Lea Bertucci’s music appears to obey legal guidelines of physics that solely apply on the quantum degree. It can provide the impression that the listener is listening to the music from a number of instructions directly, or that every iteration of a given tone exists in alternate timelines. Sounds unfold in a single path and all of the sudden shift into reverse. The New York composer and improviser has mastered a way of manipulating tape loops that creates disorienting sensations of absolute groundlessness, and he or she bases a lot of her different work in beds of harmonically wealthy drones. One second can prolong into what looks like infinity, or be looped many times in overlapping, arrhythmic coils.
Bertucci just lately launched two collaborative albums that stand in stark distinction with one another, however each revel on this uniquely playful, if typically unsettling, model of surrealism. Winds Bells Falls, which she made with multi-instrumentalist and frequent Mary Halvorson collaborator Robbie Lee, focuses solely on her stay tape-looping apply. Bertucci data and contorts Lee’s improvisations on celeste, chimes, baroque flute, and contrabass recorder in actual time, whereas Lee responds to the sound of his personal taking part in swirling and dissolving in entrance of his ears. Bertucci’s methodology for looping and manipulating tape is bodily and expressive, her fingers guiding the wheels of a reel-to-reel machine slower and quicker, typically jerking them to provide slippery spasms that ruminate and decay. She first explored these strategies in an improvised setting with vocalist Amirtha Kidambi, however whereas that duo’s work is brooding and turbulent, Winds Bells Falls is commonly vivid and gleaming, like gentle glinting in a funhouse mirror.
Lee’s broad alternative of devices means the album by no means sits nonetheless for lengthy, however every particular person piece is predicated round very particular tones and timbres: the spherical, full bodied resonance of the celeste (a keyboard instrument that strikes metallic bars or bells somewhat than strings), the breathy toots of the gershon (a fifteenth century European instrument made out of animal horns), the metallic ring of feet-tall orchestral chimes. A lot of the music is easy and spacious, regardless of the layers of tape-manipulated echoes that murmur and sputter with various ranges of opacity. On “Luggage, Packing containers, Bubbles,” layers of digital hiss seep up underneath Lee’s dissonant celeste chords, however the total temper is languid, nearly serene. Looped clacks of fingers on recorder keys pile on high of pained, moaning tones on “Azimuth” earlier than morphing into elephant-like wails and really fizzling out. When Winds Bells Falls begins to strategy chaos, it rapidly peaks earlier than settling again into an eerie, pacified quiet.
An analogous ghostly depth permeates Murmurations, Betucci’s first collaboration with veteran digital musician Ben Vida. In a reversal of roles, samples of Bertucci taking part in wind devices develop into supply materials for Vida’s modular synthesizer as they’re stretched and compressed till rendered barely recognizable. Murmurations is rather more solemn and poised than Winds Bells Falls, the continual interaction and spontaneity changed by a singular imaginative and prescient of grandeur and foreboding. Deep swells of bass drone, synthesized by Vida, typically overwhelm the combination, pushing Bertucci’s flute and saxophone to the margins as they appear to echo within the distance. The duo continually performs with spatial notion on this approach, with sure instrumental or vocal textures shut sufficient to the listener’s ear to resemble ASMR—a way Bertucci refers to as over-amplification—whereas others reverberate in some far-away digital surroundings.
Within the closing seconds of “The Huge Interiority,” a brief piece that consists of warped, half-uttered phrases by each Bertucci and Vida, the pair begin to crack up. It highlights a paradox on the coronary heart of Murmurations: The music could also be simply learn as stoic, however at its coronary heart is a dynamic and protracted playfulness. It’s the sound of two musicians on intersecting and exploratory paths, every pushing the opposite into beforehand unconsidered territories and endlessly interested in the place to go subsequent. The stress between the uneasy sounds and the playful perspective with which they have been conceived affords a possibility to query why these tones and frequencies are sometimes thought of imposing. In that inquiry lies the magic of Bertucci’s music—it permits for the emancipation of “troublesome” music into the realm of enjoyable.