The Disquieting Proximity of the Umbra

Nice to hear from Italian sound artist Pietro Riparbelli, who sometimes records as K11 and caused quite a stir in these pages around 2010. He has a slightly macabre side along with his interest in site-specific recordings and his interest in creating long-form drones of ambient shroudery. He’s dedicated most of his career to blurring the lines between philosophy and sound art. He’s here now as one half of the duo Zone Démersale, along with the producer Michele Ferretti, who is also the guitarist in Black Metal combo Gottesmorder, and may also be the dark ambient artiste Nubilum.

Their Motore Primo (BORING MACHINES BM056) is a four-track mini-album, single-sided, that’s quite a compelling episode of unsettling and semi-occult electronic mesmerism…using patterns, pulses, throbbing repeats and near-Techno beats, they want to project shaman-like fantasies and do something to transport the listener to weird dimensions, but the inference is that the journey may not be a pleasant one and there’s something slightly unwholesome lurking behind the whole proposition. Sign up at your own risk, in other words.

These short “mystical-explorative” voyages owe some allegiance to Coil and Nurse With Wound, according to the press notes, and as such they may intend to deliver transcendence through some form of semi-dangerous transgression. However, Coil at least did try to express that equation through their entire lifestyles and not just their music, with experimental drug-taking and unchained libidinous expression being an inseparable part of the deal. Zone Démersale aim to get to similar places, but mostly through name-checking their equipment and procedure (Jen sythn, Echoplex looper, radio waves, samples) and through an explanation of some quasi-philosophical stance which I found rather baffling; the very title of the work is something to do with Aristotelian thinking. However, they have studied philosophy, and I haven’t.

None of these conceptual factors are barriers to full enjoyment of this great-sounding record; the track ‘Navigazione Sommersa’ is particularly effective, both sonically and for its title which translates as ‘Submerged Navigation’. This phrase alone is quite redolent of the experience of hearing this hermetically-sealed record, very like travelling through uncharted waters in a submarine. From 17th August 2015.