Finding oneself in the right place by the lights of the wrong map may mean, by analogy, creating a particular kind of music that maps oddly onto its genre. This, fittingly enough, is the case with multi-instrumentalist Massimo Discepoli’s The Right Place on the Wrong Map. (Full disclosure: Massimo and I collaborated on the recording An Eclipse of Images, and I have some releases on his netlabel.)
The Right Place on the Wrong Map is a follow-up of sorts to Parallax, Discepoli’s solo release of a few years ago. As with the earlier recording, the music on The Right Place falls recognizably within the genre of ambient music, but what sets it apart from much ambient music—what makes it map oddly onto ambient conventions–is its energetic drumming and attention to melody. To be sure, the pieces feature floating electronic soundscapes and slowly-moving harmonies, but these often serve to provide a sonic frame or context for energetic drumming or the development of contentful lines on tuned percussion or keyboards. The drumming adds substance without sounding intrusive or out of place; it works largely because Discepoli is an imaginative, creative drummer who can balance color against propulsion, and dynamics against the demands of expression. Likewise the melodies, played on vibes, piano and electric piano (or their digital doubles), elaborate and add nuance to the more nebulous electronic atmospheres.
This fine recording comes out on 8 January; it’s a good way to start 2019.