AMN Reviews: Mauro Sambo & Marcello Magliocchi – …camminava solo sotto le stelle [Plus Timbre PT116]; ASA – Avoiding Sharks Attacks [PT113]

The two improvisations on …camminava solo sotto le stelle find multi-instrumentalist Mauro Sambo paired with percussionist Marcello Magiolocchi, who also brings a number of instruments to the collaboration. The tracks were recorded a year apart, the first in December 2014 and the second in the following December.

One of the instruments Magliocchi is credited with playing is sounding sculptures by Andrea Dami, which may well provide the opening moves on these two substantial performances. Magliocchi has had prior experience with Dami’s sheet metal and steel sculptures, having recorded the album Music for Sounding Sculptures in Twenty-three Movements some ten years ago, and in fact sounds from Dami’s sculptures appear to be the continuo running throughout both tracks. Sambo’s electronics, bass clarinet, and bowed double bass join Magliocchi to add a layer of largely unpitched sounds to a collective sound that plays subtly with changes of density. In addition to percussion, Magliocchi contributes electric and acoustic guitars and Sambo adds soprano saxophone, further mixing colors in the overall weave of musical texture. Still, the predominant timbres come from the various percussion instruments, which provide both background context and foreground punctuation. What’s striking and strikingly consistent about both pieces is the way Sambo and Magliocchi create a truly cooperative sound, a polyphony of timbres melding into a purposeful unity.

Recorded in November 2019, Avoiding Sharks Attacks is a compact set of four improvisations by the trio of Luca Pissavini on five-string double bass (played both “clean” and with electronic distortion), Fabrizio Bozzi Fenu on electric guitar, and Emilio Bernè sampling drums on laptop—a surprisingly effective substitute for an organic drum kit in the context of the group’s close interactions. The three play in a style that alludes, often in an oblique way, to harmonic cycles and structured themes but still manages to flow freely with the unfolding logic of the moment, whether frantic, as on the opening track, or more reflective, as in Lose Obedience.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews: Guillaume Gargaud & Eero Savela – Helsinki [Plus Timbre PT109]; Mauro Sambo & Matilde Sambo – sentieri paralleli [Plus Timbre PT112]

One of the pleasures of the long-form improvisation is that it allows the improvisers to invent freely and to explore as many ramifications of those inventions as their sensibilities demand, and their skills allow. In a sense, the long-form improvisation is, at least potentially, a fully articulated picture, in sound, of the interaction of a unique musical personality with time. The albums Helsinki and sentieri paralleli, both of which contain long, unbroken improvisations, provide just such portraits of the four musicians who created them.

The thirty-four-minute-long Helsinki Part 1, recorded in what now seems like the antediluvian pre-covid month of February, 2020, documents the first time guitarist Guillaume Gargaud of Le Havre, France, and Finnish trumpeter Eero Savala played together. That this was their initial meeting isn’t at all apparent in the music, which develops with a smooth, unbroken progression of ideas that are realized with an unhesitating assurance—not only for the entirety of the lengthy first piece but on the shorter follow-up as well. What both improvisations reveal is a strong lyricism carried along on Savela’s warm, mid-range voice, the unhurried phrasing of which contrasts with the bright, staccato tones of Gargaud’s acoustic guitar. Gargaud supports Savela’s melodies with sympathetic chords and countermelodies that evidence a sophisticated harmonic sense working in real time.

In contrast to Gargaud and Savela, who hadn’t met before recording Helsinki, it’s safe to say that Mauro Sambo and Matilde Sambo, a father-daughter duo, knew each other before recording sentieri paralleli and in fact they’ve previously collaborated on a recording. Also in contrast to the spartan instrumentation of the Helsinki set, Mauro and Matilde both bring a broad range of instrumental voices to their music. Mauro is represented by electronics, contra-alto clarinet, gong, Tibetan bells and other percussion, cello, zither and kumbus; Matilde is here on electric guitar, electronics and field recordings. Both musicians use these resources with discernment; there’s no overcrowding of textures or overshadowing of individual contributions. Their nearly thirty-eight-minute-long, single-track album begins with an electronic flourish in an echoing space and unfolds as a deliberately paced, ever-changing soundworld that pulls the listener into its nuanced, mist-enshrouded topography. All the more striking then when the mist evaporates and the lone voice of the contra-alto clarinet emerges, or an electric guitar arpeggio, or a clutch of pre-recorded speech.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews: Mauro Sambo & Matilde Sambo – …sibilava tra i denti… [Plus Timbre PT066]

…sibilava tra i denti…–“hissed between the teeth”—is the work of two generations of Venetian experimentalists. Multi-instrumentalist Mauro Sambo, here on electronics, double bass, kalimba, gong and other percussion, is joined by his daughter Matilde, who provides field recordings and plays electric guitar and electronics. Both bring sensibilities formed at the crossings of sound and various other media—videography for Matilde, and the plastic arts for Mauro. As might be expected, their collaboration shows a sensitivity to the ways sound can imply and simulate action projected into a three-dimensional space—implication being the soul of their musical wit.

The single, nearly twenty-nine minute track is permeated by an atmosphere of acousmatic mysteriousness, as the sources of Sambos’ sounds seem reluctant to reveal themselves. Until they do, in the form of clearly-shaped guitar arpeggios, a struck gong reverberating in a void, or the skittering of a hyperactive kalimba. Throughout its changes of texture and timbre, the track gives rise to an almost cinematic sense of obscure but purposeful actions performed with the help of unknown means, and all of it taking place just at the threshold of comprehension.

http://plustimbre.com/

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews: Mauro Sambo – Quel mutamento era il primo di una serie infinita [Plus Timbre PT 043]

A sound collage of understated drama and almost tangible atmosphere, Mauro Sambo’s Quel mutamento era il primo di una serie infinita (“what change was the first in an infinite series”) is a perfectly symmetrical suite made up of twenty parts of two minutes and twenty-three seconds each. Sambo deftly combines and recombines a set of recurring sounds—tolling bells, bits of operatic recordings heard from a distance, hammered metallic sounds reminiscent of a foundry or factory, the low buzz of a bass clarinet—in layers suggesting extension in physical space. The recapitulation of sounds within the suite gives it the feel of an uncannily familiar dream made up of repeating and evolving soft-edged images.

http://www.plustimbre.com/

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews: Mauro Sambo, Marco Colonna & Ivano Nardi – …non così lontano dal cuore [Plus Timbre PT029]

0292016“…non così lontano dal cuore”—not so far from the heart—is a long, uncluttered and atmospheric improvisation from the trio of Mauro Sambo (electronics, electric guitar, piano, shakuhachi and double bass), Marco Colonna (alto clarinet) and Ivano Nardi (percussion). Over the course of the forty-one minute-long piece Colonna supplies lithe, serpentine melodies that frequently echo or counterpoint themselves thanks to Sambo’s looping and electronic manipulation. The interplay between the two musicians largely centers on the timbral contrasts and overlaps of distorted electric guitar and thunderously resonant piano chords on the one side and the now rounded, now overblown and raw-edged sounds of the clarinet on the other. A high point is a brief duet for the buzzing, sustained notes of the reed instrument and the shakuhachi’s skittishly voice-like melodies. Throughout, Nardi provides sympathetic and sensitive support on percussion.

http://www.plustimbre.com/index.php/releases/112-0292016

Daniel Barbiero