AMN Reviews: Francesco Massaro & Francesco Pellegrino – Double Exposure [Amirani Records AMRN068]

Like the photographic technique from which it gets its name, Francesco Massaro and Francesco Pellegrino’s Double Exposure overlays multiple images to make a complex, composite whole. In this case, the images are sonic images, provided by electronics and acoustic wind instruments set with and against each other to form sometimes sharp-edged, and sometimes blended, gestalts. Although both artists are credited with electronics and reeds–Massaro’s are baritone saxophone and bass clarinet, Pellegrino’s are tenor saxophone and clarinet–this symmetry of instrumentation seems to have been asymmetrically apportioned, with Pellegrino supplying most of the electronics and Massaro handling the bulk of the acoustic playing, at least to judge from those passages where a specific reed instrument can be identified. This would represent a natural division of labor, since Pellegrino established himself as an electronic sound artist before teaching himself sax and clarinet, and Massaro was a composer and instrumentalist before taking up electronics. Either way, the music represents an intelligent and energetic mix of disparate elements, sometimes laid out as separate but juxtaposed sound fields, and sometimes integrated through interactive programming. Sonic exploration via extended reed techniques and electronic abstraction predominates, but there also are more lyrical passages for baritone saxophone or bass clarinet superimposed against a backdrop of sampled sounds and colored noise. There is in particular an especially beautiful passage for bass clarinet and celestial electronics about three-quarters of the way through the duo’s set-long improvisation, which was recorded live in Florence in June of 2021. For their encore, Massaro and Pellegrino provided backing for a text written and read by poet Nazim Comunale.

Daniel Barbiero