Con un occhio aperto


Almost a decade on from his last full length for the label, the religiously themed Teopatia, Marco Papiro returns to Planam with Con un occhio aperto, his most challenging and ambitious work to date. Known as one of the most dedicated contemporary investigators of the potential of analogue synthesizers, the musicality and personal touch of Papiro's work stand apart from a field dominated by gear fetishism and nostalgia. In recent years, one of the unique ingredients of Papiro's music has been his use of synthesized human voices, often lending his productions a dimension of uncanniness. Here, he pushes this aspect of his work much further, presenting a suite of four pieces where most listeners would be hard pressed to trace the sounds they hear back to electronic sources. The opening title piece, "Con un occhio aperto" (i.e. "With One Eye Open"), begins with metallic textures, similar to bowed cymbals or gongs, which are soon joined by waves of percussive sound, both drum-like and metallic. Irregularly rising to the surface and receding into the background, at times reminiscent of natural rhythms of rain, wind, or sea, these percussive textures are accompanied by haunting voice-like tones, at once strikingly realistic and disorienting in their non-human patterns of articulation and attack. Perhaps the closest parallel to these overlapping waves of rattling, pulsating percussive sounds and eerie extended tones is Jon Gibson's classic "Visitations," where the line between instrumental, electronic, and natural sound is blurred in a mesmerizing drift. Threaded through this hypnotic arrangement are recognizable synthesizer figures, alongside long tones performed on alto flute and bass clarinet by Christoph Bösch and Toshiko Sakakibara (members of Basel's Ensemble Phoenix). Like Teopatia, Con un occhio aperto arrives in a sleeve bearing beautiful and comical self-portrait photographs of his father. While on the earlier release, he styles himself as a saint, here he appears as a fur-clad hunter: a fitting image for this singular, exploratory music, which, like the photographs, is at once playful and primal. Edition of 300 copies.