Mr Cartman represents the first meeting of two elecroacoustic improvisational duos from Tuscany: Progetto No Name and Duo Serpe. Progetto No Name, from the industrial city of Pontedera, comprises Sara Fontana on electric guitar and effects, voice and objects, along with Dario Arrighi on various electronics; the group’s sound tends toward the harder, noisier end of the spectrum, with a fillip of punk’s simplicity and directness. Duo Serpe, on the other hand, combines the real-time electronic processing of Cristiano Bocci with the trombone of Paolo Acquaviva. (Full disclosure: Cris is a friend and frequent collaborator of mine.) Like Progetto No Name, Duo Serpe’s sound is very much of the 21st century, but with its interface of contemporary electronics and an acoustic orchestral instrument—the latter played with classical tone and precision by Acquaviva—it is a natural inheritor of some of the electroacoustic experiments carried out within Western art music during the postwar period.
This past August both groups got together for the first time to record a series of improvisations. The music that resulted combines a heavy ambience with a touch of lyricism. Through layers of Fontana’s primitive, distorted guitar and the surrounding harsh electronic scrunge there emerge here and there nascent melodies and arpeggios from the trombone, which Bocci records, amplifies and dresses with reverb. Bocci’s live processing of the instrument is discerning and never completely effaces its native sound, yet at the same time, it facilitates its taking its place assertively within the larger mix. To Duo Serpe’s classical intimations Progetto No Name brings something of the Dada spirit of the artfully artless readymade, what with Fontana’s use of miscellaneous objects and Arrighi’s samplings; there’s even a track named for the Dadaist-Surrealist painter Max Ernst.
The August session yielded six tracks totaling an hour and a half–a generous selection of adventurous sounds.