AMN Reviews: Massimo Discepoli & ​Daniel Barbiero – An Eclipse of Images (2016; Acustronica)

Drummer Discepoli teams up with bassist Barbiero for this series of seven duets on the Italian Acustronica label. Despite the apparent emphasis on instrumentation typically relegated to rhythmic duties, Discepoli and Barbiero provide layered compositions, with Discepoli contributing electronics and bass as well. As a result, the album does not sound or feel like the work of a duo.

Daniel Barbiero - photo by BOSSIBarbiero focuses on bowed double bass, setting forth slow-paced, sonorous lines. Discepoli’s rapid kit playing is in contrast to this nearly ambient approach. The drumming, however, is not a constant – Discepoli adds electronics to match Barbiero’s atmospherics from time to time.

The approach of this recording is also of note, because it is an avenue that is becoming more common. Rather than playing together, Discepoli and Barbiero recorded their parts in Italy and the U.S., respectively.  They shared their works back and forth, with Barbiero providing the melodies and Discepoli adding layers and edits until they were collectively satisfied with the outcome. Through this process, the music is both improvised and composed, though the listener may be unable to discern where the composition drops off and the improvisation begins, or vice versa.

Massimo DiscepoliIs this what early Popol Vuh would have sounded like with double bass replacing piano? Perhaps. But comparisons are difficult. An Eclipse Of Images is an uncategorizable treat. It combines a haunting, electroacoustic feel with spacious drones and loose percussion.  Not quite in the ambient, classical, rock, free improv, or jazz vein, Discepoli and Barbiero borrow deftly from each of these styles and combine them into new forms. Highly recommended.

Dan Barbiero is a frequent contributor to Avant Music News.

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