AMN Reviews: Maurizio Bianchi – Untitled 1980 / Untitled 2013 [imprec414]

414-bianchi.webjpgMilanese-born sound artist Maurizio Bianchi has been making challenging, noise-inflected work since the late 1970s. Describing himself as a non-musician, he created proto-industrial musique concrète collages and sound manipulations in a series of cassette releases issued between 1979 and 1983, when he suddenly stopped making music in the wake of a religious conversion. After a fourteen year hiatus he began again in 1998 and is once again creating sound art, sometimes by revisiting and reworking early material as he does on this recording.

The first two tracks, two untitled works of approximately seventeen and eighteen minutes each, are reissued from a cassette originally released in Japan in 1980. Both were created on a KORG MS20, a semi-modular monophonic synthesizer. Untitled A 1980 is a pulsing, industrially-tincted work containing apparently randomly placed pitches and glissandi whose tones sound as if received through radio static. Untitled B 1980 is built around an oscillating buzz that seems something like the product of the chance encounter of a jaw harp and a ring modulator on a mixing table. The remaining four tracks are reworkings of the 1980 recordings, done in 2013.

The juxtaposition of the originals with these recastings is a revealing testament to Bianchi’s ongoing commitment to working with sound, his periodic withdrawals from music notwithstanding. To the extent that he takes his own work as source material, the new pieces represent a kind of self-commentary embedded in a peculiarly reflexive form of musique concrète. As such, these new works manage to retain the salient features of the originals while rephrasing them in a more contemporary electronic vocabulary deriving primarily from drone. The anti-melodies of Untitled A 1980, for example, are recognizable under the manipulations Bianchi subjects them to in two of the new compositions. But even when the source recordings are obscured, something of a family resemblance between old and new can be perceived through the noise.

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