AMN Reviews: Leo Bettinelli and Pol Nieve – Pale

Leo Bettinelli and Pol Nieve: Pale [tecnoNucleo tn035]

A well-balanced match of acoustic string instruments with electronics can make for an intriguing expansion of the colors and timbres available to the former, while tempering the tendency of the latter toward pure abstraction. Pale, by electronic sound artist Leo Bettinelli and violinist Pablo Nieva, represents just such a balance.

The release opens with the synthetic tintinnabulations of sampled bells and moves to skittering sounds and low frequency pulses. The track builds to create a psychological atmosphere of foreboding and the sense that something is about to happen. The second track starts quietly with the processed sound of struck strings, gradually followed by the recognizable sound of arco violin in looped and layered melodic fragments. After a slow accretion of sounds, the track ends in a wash of electronics. The third and fourth tracks draw on pizzicato and extended techniques for the violin as steeped in layered processing, while the fifth track returns to a metallic sound interspersed with broken melodic patterns from the violin. A brief bonus track serves as a coda for violin backed by broken chords, its subtle dissonances drifting away.

Pale maintains a fine equilibrium between violin and electronics by making good use of open space and generally avoiding a relentlessly dense laying on of processed sound. Bettinelli and Nieve work together to produce a broad range of colors and textures that may best be described as a form of electronic expressionism.