Music Reviews

Artist: Ikue Mori, Simon Balestrazzi, Sylvie Courvoisier, Alessandro Olla, Maja S.K.Ratkje
Title: Treasure Hunt
Format: CD
Label: TiConZero (@)
Rated: *****
Even though this collaborative release by a strong cast of musicians coming from different stylistical fields, recorded in two different sessions in Sardinia (in TiConZero studio, with the only exception of the second track, recorded live at Signal festival in Cagliari) two years ago, landed on my desk a little bit behind schedule, I'm still in time to introduce it to our beloved readers. This ensemble, made up of Simon Balestrazzi (besides electronics, he cares the preparation of a toy psaltery), Alessandro Olla (label manager of TiConZero, which started as a cultural association aimed at the renewal of musical language through innovative compositional and performative techniques before being a label), Ikue Mori (Japanese talented drummer, which entered in the history of music alongside Arto Lindsay and Tom Wright, the line up of the seminal No Wave band DNA, which coined a number of valuable tracks of that short-lived but important artistic scene, who's dabbling in sonic researches on laptop and drum machines at the moment), Sylvie Courvoiser (skillful Swiss pianist and composer, who collaborated with a plenty of great musicians such as John Zorn, Erik Friedlander, Mark Feldman, Yusef Lateef, Butch Morris, Tom Rainey and many others) and, last but not least, Maja S.K.Ratkje (Norwegian electronic, but above all vocal performer, whose funny vocal moulding is one of the pivotal element for the outcome of this "Treasure Hunt"), sounds like the overlapping of different stylistical maps, where each sonic scout's report converge to one game, whose aim is not really the finding of some trasure, but a metaphorical and somewhat ironic and foolish representation of the dramatic plot of contemporary man and its hectic desire for fulfillment of material needs, when it's too close to forlorn treasure hunts, so that you can imagine this odissey of the mind treads paths that Sylvie's piano retraces with heavy tumbles like in "Tokyo Map" where other elements sounds like squelched while they swirl, primes and emphasizes emotional bombs such as in "So Sorry", whereas the initial tension turns into ghastly peals (wonderfully evoked by Maja), paralyzing melodies and noisy electric storms, becomes a scenic element whereas field recordings or electronics dominate the sonic space such as in "So It Falls", "Anywhere Else" (significantly placed at the end of album, where field recordings which features some children's rowdy yelling, a solitary whistling getting over some confusing crowd's noise and other sonic clues look like marking a sort of blurred arriving point) or "Solanas", or coalesces with other elements of the ensemble such as in "Alive", where the pianist's touches sound like driving any emotional transmutation, wonderfully highlighted by Maja's throat - her vocal malleability as well as some weird or offbeat gimmicks (being my favorite ones those in "So Sorry", where she effects her voice in devilish delays, peeps and suppressed shouts, and in "Alive", where you can imagine her while turning into a gargling mermaid!) are really astonishing! -. The rallying point of the various geographical and emotional provenances has been well depicted by Multiforme's design which included the reproduction of La Carte du Tendre (Map of Tendre), an allegorical map of an imaginary land called Tendre related to the virtous path towards love, which was produced by a number of different authors, just like this protean "Treasure Hunt".

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