Stefano Giust / Lorenzo Commisso / Gian Luigi Diana

July 25, 2013


Setola Di Maiale SM2140

Fiium Shaarrk

No Fiction No!

Not Applicable NOT024

Accepting the challenge of mixing electronics and acoustic instruments – predominately percussion – into a unified program, these European trios create sessions more distinct for audacity than authority. With polyphonic permutations output by drums, percussion, a handful of guitar licks plus laptops, samplers and turntables on one CD; and a set up involving drums, percussion and expansive electronics on the other, the appeal of both discs lies in juxtaposition and synthesis rather than narrative.

Cos’Altro is, in essence. an extension of various groups organized by Udine-based Lorenzo Commisso, who plays sampler, percussion and electronics here, plus Pordenone-native Stefano Giust, who brings his drums, cymbals and objects to the session. There are also sonic contributions from Gain Luigi Diana. The last is an Italian musician who lives in New York and here adds his laptop, turntable, guitar and voice to the mix. Co-founder of the Setola di Maiale independent musicians’ network, Giust has been involved with video productions and played with saxophonist Carlos Actis Dato and cellist Tristan Honsinger among many others. Adding Diana to the duo’s work means that the CD’s seven improvisations are manipulated with real-time sound processing.

Fiium Shaarrk on the other hand is a band consisting of Austrian drummer Rudi Fischerlehner, who also works with guitarist Olaf Rupp; Italian-born, London-based percussionist Maurizio Ravalico, who has worked with everyone from saxophonist Greg Osby to Paul McCartney [!], and Isambard Khroustaliov, the alias of London-based electronic musician and composer Sam Britton, whose membership in different groups followed courses in electronic music and composition at IRCAM plus such side excursions as composing for the London Sinfonietta.

No Fiction No is obviously dominated by the percussionists to such an extent that when the two attain backbeat-centred near-Rock drumming and Khroustaliov begins shimmying his processing in a simple linear fashion, suggestions of a hipper Emerson, Lake and Palmer come forward. Luckily those are only fleeting episodes, with the trio members alternately concentrating and deconstructing their dense group sound so that blurry expansions and jagged flanges dispense with those echoes of mid-1970s freak outs.

Among the sonic smears, voltage tremolos and insistent processed thumps, the most notable tracks are those such as “Careful With Those Live Wires”, where humanness is emphasized. There, while static whooshes and ring modulator-like reverberations vibrate around the edges, acoustic percussion sounds confirm that band’s non robot-like identity. Prominent among the human textures are drum kit lug squeaks, individual stick clips and pings, maracas-like shakes, woody rim shots and shuffles. On-off switch delays and radio-processed field recordings cloud the sound, although sequences where sparse flanges moves across the sound field as if part of a 20th century notated composition stand out.

There’s no doubt homo sapiens are present on Cos’Altro, however the trio members do wears their influences a little closer to the surface. With its repetative steam-organ-like keyboard line and mumbled vocalizing, “Rudimento” could be an early Soft Machine tune, for instance. Elsewhere, there are other references to Hard Rock guitar and bass reverberations, contemporary so-called classical percussion pulses and drum beats that pulse across like sound field like an early stereo system demonstration record. Aleatoric and almost atonal, “Stratico” blends opaque modulations which include twanging guitar licks, electronically created voices, multi-directional drum beats plus shrieking metal gouges. But despite its manifold extensions, the piece appears to never reach a climax.

More evocative and tightly paced is the concluding “Storpiato”. Although here too wave-form modulations and oscillations sound discontinuously alongside organ-like smears, drum top pops and what could be mellotron vibrations. Eventually these spiraling and swelling tones reach a point of concordance.

Although neither CD attains top rank due to inconsistent bonding and preferences for tone exploration for its own sakes over coherence, both bands appear to working towards resolutions of those challenges. Whether a wholly satisfying percussion-electronic blend will eventually result from both or either is a question both musicians and listeners can explore in the future.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Cos: 1. Fluorescenza#1 2. Rudimento 3. Angusto 4. Stratico 5. Plot!Plot! 6. Fluorescenza#2 7. Storpiato

Personnel: Cos: Gian Luigi Diana (laptop, turntable, guitar and voice); Stefano Giust (drums, cymbals and objects); Lorenzo Commisso (sampler, percussion and electronics)

Track Listing: No: 1. We Advance Covered 2. Wozzeck’s Variation 3. Five Types Of Fire 4. Fear Of Mapping 5. Careful With Those Live Wires 6. My Yellow Ferrari

Personnel: No: Rudi Fischerlehner (drums); Maurizio Ravalico (percussion) and Isambard Khroustaliov (electronics)