First things first, a full disclosure: Cristiano Bocci, one half of the DuoSerpe, is a frequent collaborator and friend. That having been said — and another personal note here — it’s fascinating to listen to this set of music, which opens up a new window onto Cris’ work with a duet partner playing an acoustic orchestral instrument.
On Piovano Santi Bocci, a multi-instrumentalist from Tuscany, works with live electronics, synthesizers and voice. The other half of DuoSerpe is Paolo Acquaviva, a trombonist with a background in classical and jazz performance, who also is from Tuscany. The collaboration was begun in 2017 under the auspices of the BlueRing Improvisers Association, a collective dedicated to exploring improvised musics, and has developed since then through live appearances at various Italian events dedicated to radical improvised music. The three pieces collected here were recorded in April 2019 at the Octomusic School and Studio in San Quirico D’Orcia in Siena.
As is often the case with Bocci’s collaborative work with acoustic musicians, the electronic component of DuoSerpe’s music is an interactive agent intervening in, and transforming, the acoustic instrument’s lines in real-time. On all three pieces the electronics serve as a compositional tool by means of which Bocci—using loops, delays, live sampling and layering in depth in order to materialize structures through collage, repetition and dynamically changing densities–sculpts improvised sounds and melodies into robust structures with cyclical, timbrally-variegated features. Acquaviva’s refined sound and creative musical ideas are a fine complement to Bocci’s work with sonority and structure—the trombonist’s ability to play well-developed melodies within the constantly mutating electronic environment lends the music a linear continuity even as it undergoes shifts along its rhythmic and textural dimensions. The contrast of the unprocessed, natural sound of the trombone with its electronically enhanced doubles, some of which are traceable to their acoustic source and some of which aren’t, provides one of the set’s recurring timbral motifs. Bocci works similar contrasts using his voice as raw material on the first track, which features his dramatic reading of a text set against an elegiac trombone melody.
This is music successful not only on its own terms as experimentation with sonic qualities and structures, but as something aesthetically pleasing as well.