Early Electronic Works – Caustic / Composite: abstract electronic drone soundscapes with a sense of wonder and adventure

NIMH, Early Electronic Works – Caustic/Composite, Poland, Zoharum, ZOHAR263-2 2xCD (2022)

NIMH / Giuseppe Verticchio is probably best known for collaborating with fellow Italian industrial music pioneer Maurizio Bianchi and other assorted experimental electronics artists, though he has a significant body of work in his own right. The bulk of his releases come after 2001 but this compilation of his early work, the “Caustic” and “Composite” series, made in the early to mid-1990s, demonstrates even at an early stage this artist’s brilliance in creating and developing distinct abstract yet dynamic electronic drone soundscapes. On most tracks of this double CD set, a vibrant spirit is present that pushes the music to the full sonic capabilities of the synthesisers and other instruments used by Verticchio. A real sense of adventure, of exploration and of wonder at the universe opened up by the sounds, both individually and as part of the droning motifs they form, is present throughout.

Without a doubt the key tracks here are the long immersive pieces “Caustic #2” and “Caustic #3” which together are worth the price of the double set. They’re both very different – “Caustic #2” may be a bit more forbidding and stern compared to “Caustic #3” – but their liveliness and the dynamics of their sounds as the tracks explore and expand the distances of their respective worlds are thrilling and captivating. The various long and short pieces that make up the “Composite” series differ in their orientation, being rather more staid ambient experiments preoccupied perhaps with generating and maintaining a particular mood. The sounds are less pointillist and lively, and in some tracks like “Composite #3” and “Composite #5”, dare I say the music can be a bit bland and boring, and in need of editing for length.

Even with the hit-and-miss “Composite” series, the music – all of it performed live at the time, with no overdubs and no later re-working – shows Verticchio’s interest and curiosity in working and experimenting with sound, mood and ambience, and in seeing how far he could go just working with these elements alone and together with just the instruments he had at hand. The sound universes created here can be stunning in their depth and complexity, and you can quickly find yourself lost in these dimensions … and content to stay there if the music were any longer than it already is.

Obviously this compilation will appeal to NIMH fans who will find it indispensable in showing where NIMH was originally coming from in his early musical development. Even if you’re not familiar with NIMH’s work – I confess I wasn’t until I heard this set – you’ll still find much of the music here spellbinding and enthralling.