Italian artist Adriano Zanni has been making documentary field recordings since 2017 at least, plus he’s also a photographer – publishing photos in print, in magazines, on his blog, and in art installation contexts too. No doubt his sound art / field recording work is part and parcel of the same process. For a glimpse of what he’s been getting up to, hear his Racconti D’ossservazione (DISSIPATIO diss010) record, six audio snapshots captured in various parts of Italy – Ravenna, Marina Romea, and Borca di Cadore. Some of them are spliced together with electronic tones, some of them served up raw – but in all cases, there’s a real core of truth at the heart of these recordings, very accurate and deep reflections of the environment, along with a certain amount of wistful thinking and philosophising. I’m trying to account for the intensity of these sounds – somehow Zanni goes deeper, or further, into the act of hearing than many instances of phonographic art, and he never settles for just recording whatever surrounds him in a passive manner. It’s as though he’s found a means of x-raying the world – he stares, he listens, and does it for so long he penetrates to a core of meaning. What he serves up is not foregone conclusions about the nature of things; rather, his process invites more questions, and allows us to perceive the world afresh. My copy arrived with a booklet of monochrome photos by Zanni, images which tend to confirm all of the above impressions – he seeks out isolated, undiscovered corners of the world, and finds desolate beauty there as he points his unblinking lens.
Dream Weapon Ritual are a trio of Italian players – Monica Serra, Laura Farneti, and the great Simon Balestrazzi, who has been regaling us for many years with his many supernatural-tinged recordings. Matter of fact this new-ish group claim to be part of a larger musical movement called “Italian Occult Psychedelia”, which is just wonderful. Strata (DISSIPATIO DISS009) comprises just two lengthy pieces, made with a combination of live electronics, percussion, vocals, and pre-recorded tapes – a good example of “electro-acoustic improvisation”, if that term still has any currency. Dream Weapon Ritual aren’t quite so formal about doing this as, say, M.I.M.E.O., and reserve the right to go into trance-like states where they can speak freely in tongues like mildly-possessed souls, or mysterious demons from the otherworld. They also claim to be inspired by an “imaginary folk vision”, which may resonate strongly with readers who enjoy the idea of “hauntological” music. DWR’s take on this rather nebulous concept is not as specific as what we get from the Ghostbox label, but wherever Simon “Magus” Balestrazzi weaves his spell you can be guaranteed of genuinely unsettling and odd episodes during these lengthy sojourns in the dark drone. The band’s name may put you in mind of the seminal 1990 release by Spacemen 3, itself a memorable workout in guitar drone drawing inspiration from La Monte Young and the Velvet Underground, while the cover photographs to Strata suggest that the three Italians have discovered the secrets of bodily levitation by way of ritual magick. Come to that, I’d suggest their wispy, unsettling music could make a good alternative soundtrack to a Kenneth Anger trance movie. Excellent.
Both the above form 29 June 2022.