Umber: the path from A to Z not at all straightforward but it’s there all right

Zero Centigrade, Umber, Observatoire, CD-r obs music 035 (2012)

Zero Centigrade is an electronic improv jazz duo of Tonino Taiuti on electric and acoustic guitars and Vincenzo de Luce on trumpet and sound effects. “Umber” is their third album together. The music is a weird if rather fragile-sounding combination of freak folk, hesitant improvisation and a naif experimental attitude. The men strum their guitars and blow their trumpets as if trying out these instruments for the first time and seeing how far they can bend their toys before they break a string or the instrument flops from the effort of trying to please these humans! Yet each and every sound has a definite existence and is not part of a cacophony of noises which the album could have easily been: a definite purpose stands behind the music through the entire album.

Although there are twelve tracks, I think it’s best to listen to the album in its entirety and view the music as one continuously developing meta-track with different chapters. The structure of the music can be quite fragile and relies on minimalist repetition, long tones and a particular mood created by the trumpet or guitar that is maintained by the deep spaces within the track. Funnily, the album starts off quite brightly and the music is playful, even mischievous, but over time the spark seems to wear off, the musicians get waylaid at times and struggle to stick to the straight and narrow path: not always a bad thing, by the way. But Taiuti and de Luce manage somehow to get from A all the way to Z even though the path is not straightforward through the alphabet: there are times where they seem stuck or might even be going backwards – and then by the next track, they’re already at the spot that they’re thought to have lost sight of.

Contact: Observatoire