AMN Reviews: Attilio Novellino – Strängar [Forwind FWD28]

Strängar, by Attilio Novellino is a four-movement work for grand piano, piano soundboard, prepared piano, various synthesizers, and electronics. Novellino, a sound artist, and composer from Catanzaro in the southern Italian region of Calabria, recorded Strängar at EMS Elektronmusikstudion in Stockholm as well as in Catanzaro. Novellino’s musical concept, with its structural use of compact themes and simple elements repeated and recombined, is its own kind of minimalism, but his ear for timbre and his ability to develop richly textured soundscapes gives his music an almost cinematic expansiveness.

The core of Strängar consists of resonant piano chords or notes struck once and left to linger, and in short, repeated motifs. From that foundation Novellino layers on a variety of sounds, most notably those created by playing directly on the piano’s strings—scraping, plucking, and striking in such a way as to convey something of the instrument’s sheer materiality. With these sonic foundations thus set down, Novellino then goes on to elaborate each piece with increasingly complex textures and sweeping electronic washes of sustained chords. The end result is a finely-tuned balance of the abstract and the atmospheric.

Daniel Barbiero