AMN Reviews: Daniel Barbiero and Cristiano Bocci – Non-Places (2017; Acustronica)

Bassists Barbiero and Bocci team up for their second release in three years, this one on the netlabel Acustronica. Non-Places takes its title from the concept of an atopia – a physical place that lacks a sense of specific place. The modern urban landscape is riddled with public non-places through which individuals can move in mostly an anonymous fashion.

Each track of the album represents a particular non-place. In addition to plucked and bowed themes making use of extended techniques, both performers add electronics and processing to the mix, resulting in a deliberately-paced atmospheric offering. These effects include feedback, distortion, synthetic rhythms, and voices. Frequently, Barbiero and Bocci are playing slow tempos with long-held notes, but from time to time one will contribute a more frenetic melody or motif that is juxtaposed with the other’s more gradual, drone-based approach. Having said that, it is not unusual on this release for the processed elements to dominate, providing a dense electroacoustic sound bed.

Nonetheless, the use of space is key on Non-Places (not surprising, given its theme), with each track exhibiting a unique ambiance and mood. As a result, the album does not jump out as being a showcase for a twosome of accomplished bassists – instead, Barbiero and Bocci use these traditional instruments, as well as the non-traditional ones, as a means to the end of characterizing their atopias.

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