March 26, 2013
Zero Plus Zero
Chris Abrahams/Lucio Capece
None of Them Would Remember It That Way
Mikroton cd 13
Palpably attempting to transform drones so that their properties can be used as sonic building blocks has long been a preoccupation of Lucio Capece. Because of this, the Argentinean-born, Berlin-based sound maker has, over the past few years, expanded his instrumental arsenal so that he is as often manipulating a sruti box, a double plugged equalizer, a ring modulator and sine waves as soprano saxophone or bass clarinet. The desired result, as these CDs aptly demonstrate, is a polyphonic acoustical environment which transcends hermetic textures to expose ones that are more open and organic.
Certainly the combination of thickened drones, friction-ridden grunts, ear-straining pauses and continually quivering pulses means a distinct program is advanced over both CDs. More to the point, individual properties of the implements at hand are undeniably subordinated to the generic sound picture. Moreover, except for a minority of audible stretches and squeaks, each instrument’s usually identifiable qualities are purposely subordinated to anonymous loops and wave forms, usually studio manufactured at a different time period. As Zero Plus Zero states, the program was organized in the German capital over a two year period from 2009 to 2011.
Most tellingly, when Chris Abrahams joins Capece on None of Them Would Remember It That Way playing DX7 synthesizer, the resulting program doesn’t appear to append more textures or be animated with a wider palate of sonic tinctures than Capece’s solo work. Although that CD was also recorded, mixed and mastered from 2008 to 2009 in Berlin, it’s most prominent tones are the same constantly juddering and looped buzzes found on Zero Plus Zero.
Among the tones Capece extracts from either his bass clarinet or soprano saxophone are a few which are circular-breathed, others which evolve in a flat line, and a majority of which sound as if they’re pushed though the horn(s) without key movement. Stretching the tessitura, occasional scrapes against metal establish some individuality among the tracks, as do protracted pauses. Moving the hand-operated sruti box to the foreground at points, Capece transforms its sounds so many times that at junctures it appears to be expelling tones that relate variously to a bagpipe’s chanter, an electric organ’s innards or an accordion’s expanding bellows, ending up with textures that could only be described as 100% drone. Each of the jerry-built, prepared or industrial electronic add-ons contributes to this overriding buzz. Overall, the blurry undulations take on properties of their own which seemingly relate more to stasis then any attempt at sequencing or narrative.
Abrahams, whose role as keyboardist – usually pianist – with Australian band The Necks is more descriptive, appears in a change of direction to have decided to limit his synthesizer duets with Capece to merely expelling tremolo washes. Because of that, except when an occasional keyboard plink or string-twang is heard from his instrument; or an equivalent peeps or burble from one of Capece’s horns appears; the effect is as if the two are both playing the same unidentifiable instrument. At the end of “Southern Patterns” for instance there’s a brief passage where what could be backwards-running tape flanges, gong-like pops or shrill metal-and-reed amplified shrills are heard, but the sequence then settles back into the same quivering looping as elsewhere.
Capece – and by extension Abrahams – has put much thought and effort into originating a sound program that reflects his ideas on these discs. It may be fascinating to some. Nonetheless though, both CDs lack enough distinguishing highs and lows for variety or protracted interest. The intonations are undoubtedly there. But movement and animation are lacking.
Track Listing: Zero: 1. Some Move Upward Uncertainly 2. Zero Plus Zero 3. Inside the Outside I 4. Inside the Outside II 5. Spectrum of One 6. Inside the Outside III
Personnel: Zero: Lucio Capece (soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, sruti box, double plugged equalizer, ring modulator and sine waves)
Track Listing: None: 1. Ring Road 2. Southern Patterns 3. All the Oceans Between
Personnel: None: Lucio Capece (soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, preparations and sruti box) and Chris Abrahams (DX7 fm synthesizer)