Sunday, September 20, 2020
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Artist: Claudio F. Baroni
Title: The Body Imitates The Landscape
Format: CD + Download
Label: Unsounds
This work, compared by Baroni and performed by Ensemble Maze, was originally designed as the sonic aspect of an installation rather than a recorded work, with the idea that each of the 11 pieces named (with one exception) after body parts would, when performed live, be felt in those parts by the audience as they engaged in the space. This was part of Adi Hollander’s installation of the same name, where she designed a collection of ergonomic objects that were meant to facilitate this transformation of the music into vibrations felt through the entire body.

Neutered from this interactive experience and now presented as a standalone CD or download, what we get is a 48-minute collection of sparse, impulsive plucks, bows and bells fused with fairly relentless low-level whispering that seems intent on targeting subliminal suggestion to tell you what your body should be thinking.

Without the body reaction, it feels quite barren, almost empty at times- there are no attempts to shake your body by the old-fashioned high volume approach, and resonance seems to be the preferred technique.

In me, this release triggered an awkwardness. It’s clearly intended to be sensual and intimate at times (although the topics seem to expand and contract in scale with more gusto than the music), with the breathy talking and seductive slow musical movement, coupled with the track titles that slowly work their way down the body. But for me, I’m afraid that didn’t really work. The whispering feels more sinister, leading to embarrassment rather than excitement. It’s also at such a low level that it triggers that super-awkward situation where your lover says something very quiet and sexy to you, and you fail to hear it so you’re forced to just say “PARDON?” and spoil the moment completely. But that last point is possibly a diversion from the point.

The journey down the body does not result in the level of musical diversity that you might expect. Notable tracks, to a point, include the oddly jazzy vibes that crop up in “Heso (The Navel)”. “Uesoto (The Waist)” foregrounds the narrative slightly more and this feels more poetic and engaging- or distracting, if your engagement to the playback has been thin enough that you’ve found yourself doing other things whilst listening.

As translations of musical work for installations go, unfortunately this falls into the category of “you should’ve been there”. Without the interactive experience, this doesn’t really glimmer as an audio work.


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