The sound of the human voice in predominantly instrumental, freely improvised music is always arresting. Part of this may be because it isn’t often found there, but another—larger?—part may simply be that the warmth and directness of the voice naturally compels attention. Whatever the case, the 4! Quartet—Patrizia Oliva (voice, electronics, flute and objects); Carlo Mascolo (prepared trombone); Domenico Saccente (drums, Neapolitan cupo cupo drum, double bass and objects); and Felice Furioso (accordion and prepared piano)—artfully trade on the intimacy of the voice and its interplay with the challenging, finely honed sounds of instrumental experimentation. This interplay takes a variety of forms, whether Oliva’s voice floats dreamily over a restrained background of grey noise, or threads its way through the more skittish splatters of sound thrown out by trombone, accordion and percussion. The highlight of the recording is Sta per, which features a quite beautiful duet of Mascolo’s trombone and Oliva’s electronically delayed vocal line.
Mascolo also figures in Losca Mio Gulfos, a set of duets with baritone guitarist Andreas Fulgosi, who is credited with composition on all the tracks as well. As a general rule Fulgosi’s guitar structures the pieces with chords, rhythms or single lines; Mascolo reciprocates with gritty textures underneath or melodies above. At different points the two engage in call-and-response, parallel soloing, and irregular stop-time, giving the album an always inviting variety of ways to shape a duet.