Giuseppe Ielasi's first album released on Oren Ambarchi
's Black Truffle label
continues the renewed exploration of the guitar that marks much of his solo work over the last few years: a major new work from a quiet master of contemporary experimental music
Emerging in the late 1990s as an improviser working primarily with prepared acoustic and electric guitars, the instrument became less prominent in his work over the next decade, ceding to loop-based constructs that would eventually split into abstracted takes on club music and hip-hop (including his work as Inventing Masks), on the one hand, and spectral electroacoustic explorations (such as the stunning triple disc 3 pauses), on the other. Returning to the guitar in recent years, he has approached the instrument as a source of shimmering metallic glissandi (Five Wooden Frames) or as the vehicle of elegiac double-tracked lines that feel almost like Frisell playing Feldman (The Prospect). Here the focus is on electric guitar filtered, looped, and splayed out into fields of irregular echoes through a bank of pedals.
Like many of Ielasi's releases, Down On Darkened Meetings, recorded at Ielasi's studio in Monza outside of Milan over two days in February 2022, is structured as a set of short untitled pieces (here ranging between two and six minutes in length) that single-mindedly explore a single instrument or source throughout. The opening track immediately introduced the distinctive timbral world of fizzing, heavily filtered tones, chiming harmonics, and woozy looping bass figures inhabited throughout. At points it becomes near impossible to trace these sounds to the strings of an electric guitar; at others, as on the final two pieces, the instrument is unmistakable, as Ielasi builds up his shifting loops from snatches of almost unintentional sounding half-playing that give these closing tracks a hushed, private atmosphere reminiscent of Tolerance's Anonym. While the repeating chords and hanging melodic figures present on many tracks call to mind earlier Ielasi classics like Gesine and Untitled, here the music feels less meticulously constructed than played: Ielasi's lyrical guitar lines obscured by a battery of effects at times come across like a dilated take on the outer-fringe fretwork of improvisers like Henry Kaiser and Raymond Boni, and the muddy, asynchronous fields of pops and hiss at times wander into areas reminiscent of the hand-played dub techno of Vladislav Delay
Like much of Ielasi's work in recent years, these seven pieces perform a delicate balancing act: between abstraction and immediacy, austerity and abundance. Imbued with Ielasi's distinctive lightness of touch, considered approach to pacing, and subtly psychedelic approach to the stereo field, Down on Darkened Meetings is a major new work from a quiet master of contemporary experimental music.
Giuseppe Ielasi (born in 1974, lives near Milan since 1990) started playing guitar in 1988, and worked for many years in the area of “improvised music” (long term collaborations with Renato Rinaldi in the duo Oreledigneur, Thomas Ankersmit
, Michel Doneda
, Ingar Zach, Dean Roberts
Between 1997 and 2006 he has performed live with Taku Sugimoto, Jérôme Noetinger
, Mark Wastell, Martin Siewert, Nmperign, Brandon Labelle
, Nikos Veliotis, Alessandro Bosetti
, Gert-Jan Prins, Phill Niblock
, Oren Ambarchi
, and many others.
From 2007 on, his main interest has been in site-specific solo performances, still using guitars as primary sound sources but integrating microphones and multi-channel speaker systems in order to create complex networks for sound diffusion in relationship to space.
He recently started a collaboration with Austrian video artist Michaela Grill (US tour in 2007, participations at the Rotterdam Film Festival, Evolution Festival in Leed, FilmSoundFilm in Marfa,TX) and is more and more involved in performances and installations with Renato Rinaldi and Armin Linke
(ZKM Karlsruhe, Villa Romana Florence, Kunsthalle Berlin, Festival della Scienza Genova).
In 1998 he founded the “Fringes recordings” label, closed in 2005, and co-founded “Schoolmap Records” in 2006.
See also Bellows
(Giuseppe Ielasi & Nicola Ratti