Fausto Balbo & Andrea Marutti "Detrimental dialogue" Reviews

On THE MILKFACTORY

It could be a decaying sound source which opens Detrimental Dialogue, and in a way, it is, except that instead of progressing, this is a regressive process which takes place during the first four minutes of this album’s opening track, as pieces of sonic dust progressively gather in increasingly more coherent electronic clusters. This is only the beginning of a recurring process during which compositions slowly break down into almost insubstantial fragments and regenerate into entirely new structures. All the way through Detrimental Dialogue, Andrea Marutti and Fausto Balbo take electronic synthesis from extremely granular to concrete universal level and back. Hailing from Milan, where he runs the AFE imprint, Andrea Marutti has released music since the mid-nineties under a variety of aliases, including Amon, Lips Vago or Spiral, and is a member of various formations, including Hall Of Mirrors, Maribor or Sil Muir. Fausto Balbo spent part of his formative years playing guitar in various rock bands before developing a taste for more unconventional forms of music, resulting in experimentation with electronics and improvisation. He has until now released just two solo albums, with his as-yet untitled third one due out next year on AFE. The two met five years ago in Vigevano, northern Italy, and rapidly decided to collaborate on a project, focusing on exploring various forms of electronic analogue and digital synthesis. Detrimental Dialogue is the fruit of this common work. The album is split into four tracks of varying length, the longest, Winter, lasting almost twenty minutes, the shortest, Set-Back, clocking at just above the six minute mark. Yet, the meticulous process of sonic dissection and reconnection remains very constant throughout. While each track works independently of the others, there is a clear narrative flow which runs like a thread from the opening moment of Winter to the distorted closing seconds of Troubled Elephant. While Winter progresses through a number of phases, some extremely granular, others wonderfully lush and melodic, Indulge Me, which follows, echoes the early electronic experiments of Tangerine Dream, especially in the first half of the piece, which sees a series of dreamy synthetic chords floating just above bubbling electronics, but as these become progressively more prominent, the astral character of the track is replaced by much more fragmented and earthy elements before taking a decidedly glacial tone in the last section of the piece. Despite its shorter structure, Set-Back is equally as complex and abstract, as the pair go through a series of refined electronic sound forms, layering abrasive textures, bleepy components and sweeping soundscapes. Troubled Elephant by contrast is a somewhat peaceful and ethereal piece, at least in its first half, where soft tones scintillates, barely disturbed by the constant criss-crossing of statics and interferences. Things become much more abrasive and harsh in the second half though as the pair relentlessly distort and distress their gentle soundscapes until they become totally unrecognisable. Detrimental Dialogue is a rather fine exercise in electronic synthesis processing, which, while referencing in part the sonic vision from which the kosmiche/krautrock movements of the seventies resulted, also embraces much more contemporary generative forms of electronic music to create a supremely confident and consistent piece of work. An album not to be missed.


On FOXYDIGITALIS

Essentially, “Detrimental Dialogue” is a conversation between two complete synth-heads, each tossing whizzes, whirs, crackles, tones and drones back and forth at each other, burying sounds into deeply hollowed-out stereo channels, and constantly twiddling their creations with effects and manipulations. The two Italian collaborators delve deep into the digital and analog, exploring tones to extended lengths and offering up a lot of them for your ears to try and track down and make some sense of. It’s not always an easy task to do so—this music, though full of very long compositions, is paced very quickly. There are sections to be followed and it seems like the two are definitely on the same page for the most part. But the overall swiftness in shifts almost encourage quicker, less attentive scans. The songs sometimes have a hard time making it all the way from A to Z. Second track “Indulge Me,” only gets to X or Y at the most…unfortunately cut short right in mid-synth-motif after 12 solid minutes. This kind of structuring keeps the music from painting full, complete pictures or telling any kind of meaningful story for you to follow along with. Less a voyage, more a ticket to the observatory, and maybe that’s what Marutti and Balbo are really going for here anyway – this feels much more like a jazz performance, be it a heavily synthy, digital noise-jazz performance. It’s an exhibit of two very highly skilled synth-noise architects in an improvisatory dialogue that remains an interesting listen despite its babbling incoherence. Also, I have to mention the artwork. The front cover posted above there is maybe the least interesting part of a much bigger, much better and more awesome poster found folded up inside the CD. Almost worth it for that alone…luckily the music’s a treat, too.


On FILTHFORGE

"Detrimental Dialogue" was born from the combined forces of Andrea Marutti and Fausto Balbo, veterans of the Italian electronic scene, the one focused on experimentalism and sound research. The eclectic duo delivers a refined, almost elitist work for delicate palates. Four very long tracks (for a total of 50 minutes) digging into the chasm of self and coiling you up into distant echoes, in which the material evaporates and condensates into deadly miasmas. The process conducting to the accomplishment of "Detrimental Dialogue" is rather particular: after the recording of the tracks in separated studios (between 1997 and 2000), the two met for the collective mixing. It's a difficult, hostile and paradoxical record, gathering an infinity of different styles, apparently undefinable, in which, however, the cosmic legacy of Tangerine Dream and of lots of kraut rock stands out. Melodies are left out in favour of rarefied ambient pads. Make way to sound experiments, filters, wave forms... It was previously remarked that this is not a CD for everyone, and not even something you can appreciate at the first listening. It's a work without assurance, or, better, a product whose only assurance is the uncertaintyf an hallucinatory journey along a mysterious way, the goal of which is equally unknown to the pilots (Marutti and Balbo) and to the passengers (the listeners). Along the sonic wake it'll happen to be disturbed by distorted mixers, coiled up by space sounds and by the winding synth vortex stretching into a soft melodic opening. And, further, frequencies wandering into deep space and caught almost by chance, telephones ringing, vintage videogame noises, metal clangours, and more. An evocative album, undoubtedly, to travel beyond the horizons of commonplace.


On CONNEXION BIZARRE

If you haven’t heard of Andrea Marutti by now, you should be a little bit ashamed. He’s not only the man behind Amon, but he is also responsible for the quite impressive roster of the Italian Afe Records. Fausto Balbo, on the other hand, is perhaps a new name for you – as he was for me, too. After fifteen years of making music apart from each other, their paths crossed in 2005, and since then they have been working every now and then on this release. Please note that “every now and then” in this case means “very intense with week-long sessions in both studios”. The album “Detrimental Dialogue” is their first collaboration, and it contains explorations of various types of analogue and digital synthesis. If you are not yet introduced to that part of experimentalism, yes, there is more then ‘just’ analog or digital. To quote from the press sheet: additive, subtractive, physical modeling, FM, phase distortion, granular, etc. The 48 minutes of this release are divided into four tracks, entitled “Winter”, “Indulge me”, “Set-Back” and “Troubled Elephant”, and with the best will in the world I couldn’t explain these titles to you. But rest assured that while listening to these tracks I have tried to figure it out. The drones and ambient parts slowly fade you in and out (of an uncertain state) of consciousness, while the intrusive experiments in minimal noise, glitch and pure waveforms rip you out of there and force you to feel the here, the now and reality; this latter in all its beautiful and confrontational aspects. Through the use of effects, the sounds that are used on this album – and then mainly those noisy escapades – are put into a really nice perspective. The stereo image as well as the depth have an exceptional extra dimension, which makes the album as a whole interesting for a) modular sound nerds (you know who you are) and b) people who want to hear proof that there is more than your mind can handle. It’s going straight into my collection, next to Robert Piotrowicz’ “Lasting Clinamen”, and the additional mini-poster with the music-making aliens and insect-shaped speakers by Stefano ‘Sicksoul’ Rossetti is getting an honorary place on my studio wall. For inspirational purposes… Or just to space out!


On MUSIQUE MACHINE

"Detrimental Dialogue" is the first collaboration between Northern Italy’s Andrea Marutti and Fausto Balbo, who exploit a wide range of sound synthesis techniques as they worked together both in tandem and isolation across a period of three years. This has resulted in an album that merges the cosmic hedonism of Tangerine Dream’s analogue experiments with the even more abstract glitch of digital synths, to form an array of auditory science fiction motifs and modulations pitched light years away from any pre-sets. These sounds the duo create and deploy are found across the whole album, making it seem more like a single work of four movements than a collection of separate ideas. Indeed, one can easily imagine it started life through free improvised sessions whose raw outputs have since been honed, filtered and edited into four separate pieces. The first, ‘Winter’, starts with scratchy, jittering bursts of distorted signals that remain random apart from the odd diphthongal utterance. These continue to fidget frenetically as warm analogue tones smoothly hover into view accompanied by the sort of bleeps and whirrs associated with futuristic machinery. Over time, the slow pulsations combine with other crystalline tones to form a kaleidoscopic synth work-out before dropping any perceived harmonic pretensions and entering a sparse, malfunctioning space station full of stuttering exchanges, engine pulses and sawmill slices. Similarly, the minimal melodic themes that float around the early stages of the next two tracks (‘Indulge Me’ and ‘Set-Back’) are also largely ditched by their mid-point giving way to more electro-acoustic-styled passages whose rhythms are more often in a state of flux than fixity. By the final track, the scribbling glitches can feel like they’re vandalizing an otherwise serene set of concentric triggers, camouflaging the gentle Kosmische sensibilities. But without them we would lose the darkly destructive drama they inject and the rhythmic potential they lend, particularly when organised by dubby delay, albeit briefly. In this way, ‘Detrimental Dialogue’ provides a curious journey of contrasts through user-defined sounds that manage to echo Krautrock’s more spacey excursions against a chaos theory of digitalia.


On BABYSUE

An intriguing collaboration created by Italian experimental artists Andrea Marutti and Fausto Balbo. The folks at Italy's Boring Machines label already had our attention because of some of the odd, obtuse releases they've been sending our way. Detrimental Dialogue is certainly the strangest and least commercial album we've heard on this peculiar small label. Marutti and Balbo don't make music that fits into any traditional format. The compositions on this album aren't necessarily musical or melodic...they're more like experiments with sound and technology. The album is presented in four lengthy sections: "Winter," "Indulge Me," "Set-Back," and "Troubled Elephant." Strangely different and decidedly otherworldly...this album will most likely only appeal to a very select and eclectic group of listeners. Features great artwork reminiscent of some of the more elusive underground U.S. comic artists in the 1990s. We love it. Top pick.


On KULTURTERRORISMUS

Mit den Italienern Andrea Marutti & Fausto Balbo fanden sich 2005 zwei versierte “Soundakrobaten” zusammen, deren erste Zusammenarbeit den Titel “Detrimental Dialogue” trägt, die die abgedrehten “Hirnströmungen” der Protagonisten offenbart, welche sie mittels einer “minimalistischen” Symbiose aus Ambient, Electronica & Drones vermitteln. “Detrimental Dialogue” erblickte als CD einer schicken Pappverpack- ung (inklusive Poster), für die sich der Künstler Stefano “SickSoul” Rossetti verantwortlich zeigt, über Andrea Marutti’s Label Afe Records das Licht der Welt. Getreu dem Motto “Space Is The Place” nahmen sich die Herrschaften Themen wie dem Winter, der Selbstnachsicht & einem unbändigen Elefanten an, welche im ersten Moment nicht besonders wild erscheinen, aber bei näherer Betrachtung eine Menge Potenzial in sich bergen. Realisten lassen von “Detrimental Dialogue” besser ab, das vornehmlich Kopfkinofreunde anspricht, welche gedanklich gerne Wege abseits der Normalität beschreiten. PS: Wieso Andrea Marutti & Fausto Balbo ihr Werk übersetzt “nachteilige Dialoge” tauften, bleibt mir ein Rätsel, da echter Wahnsinn irgendwie anders ausschaut, oder? In Punkto Tonkunst verwoben die Südländer auf “Detrimental Dialogue” avantgardistische Klänge mit “mainstreamigen” Strukturen, die im Zeitraum von 2007 – 2009 in ihren Studios aus analogen & digitalen Spuren entstanden, welche sie anschließend innerhalb einer Woche gemeinsam mixten. Wer vor allem auf minimalistische Electronica abfährt, sollte diese kurzweilige Kooperation von Andrea Marutti & Fausto Balbo unbedingt antesten, deren Ergebnis auch sehr gut auf der Ratzeburger Manufaktur Treue um Treue vorstellbar wäre, wo sich Protagonisten wie Dr C. Stein, De Frontanel, Wermut & Echo West tummeln. Besonders mag gefallen, dass die Akteure eine perfekte Abstimmung zwischen stringenten Sounds & eher atonalen Geräuschen erschufen, welche sich durch alle 4 Tracks von “Detrimental Dialogue” ziehen, weshalb Konsumenten hier eine sehr homogene Arbeit erwartet, die entweder gefällt oder eben nicht.


Su SENTIREASCOLTARE

Uno dei più sottovalutati dischi d’elettronica dell’anno appena trascorso è opera di due veterani della scena italiana e vede la luce grazie all’ennesima collaborazione tra label (Boring Machines, Fratto9 e la AFE di mr. Marutti). Le quattro lunghe tracce di Detrimental Dialogue sono tutto fuorché un dialogo dannoso tra i due sperimentatori. Concepite con un lungo procedimento di registrazione a quattro mani ed elaborazioni in solitario, sempre in modalità rigorosamente analogica, le composizioni sono caratterizzate trasversalmente da un isolazionismo di matrice kosmische limitrofo all’ambient più scarnificata e droning, e da una taratura retro-futurista che sembra la risposta al negativo delle istanze di tanta neo-new age sentita in giro ultimamente. Come se l’hypnagogic più elettronico e synthetico fosse finito sul lato oscuro della luna in mano a sperimentatori onnivori e inarrestabili. O come HAL 900 avrebbe immaginato la soundtrack per il suo viaggio di morte ai confini dell’ignoto. Passaggi rarefatti e diafani, diluiti e ovattati come in assenza di gravità si alternano in suite in cui ogni singolo suono, loop o frammento sonoro è calibrato meticolosamente e mai fuori posto. Minaccioso anche nei molti momenti di stasi, Detrimental Dialogue è la colonna sonora più plausibile per l’oscurità dello spazio più profondo e dell’assenza di vita. Da suonare a volume altissimo per apprezzare il certosino lavoro di scultura sonoro attuato da Marutti e Balbo.
Di Stefano Pifferi.


Su INDIE-EYE

Ero a un passo dal soccombere alla mediocrità dell’ennesima raccolta di brani indie-canzonettari quando sono stato folgorato dall’ascolto di Detrimental Dialogue, succulento prodotto che non a caso reca impresso il marchio della Boring Machines (casa dei Father Murphy, recentemente recensiti da questa parte). Composto a quattro mani da Andrea Marutti e Fausto Balbo, due veterani della scena sperimentale nostrana, l’album è una sorta di Behemoth industriale: 50 minuti di sperimentazioni elettroniche, suddivise in quattro lunghissime tracce. L’attitudine scostante di Balbo e Marutti è evidente fin dal booklet – giocato sui toni contrastanti del nero e del giallo – che se ne sbatte allegramente di riportare testi (quali testi?) o informazioni sui musicisti coinvolti. L’artwork, opera di Stefano “Sicksoul” Rossetti, risente piuttosto di un’estetica freak-psichedelica tardo settantiana, tanto che sembra uscito direttamente dalle pagine di Frigidaire. Musicalmente ci troviamo dalle parti di una ambient ostile e recalcitrante, che nel suo essere totalmente priva di riferimenti ritmici raccoglie tanto l’eredità cosmica dei Tangerine Dream quanto l’isolazionismo di scuola Autechre. Bando alle melodie, presenti ma limitate a rarefatti pad ambientali. Largo agli esperimenti sul suono, ai filtri, alle forme d’onda. Non si tratta ovviamente di un’opera adatta a soddisfare qualunque palato, nè di qualcosa facilmente apprezzabile al primo ascolto. Dubito quindi che verrà incensata dalle riviste di settore o inserita nella lista dei “migliori album del …” che molti recensori amano stilare. Ciononostante, si tratta di una delle cose più avvolgenti ed intense che mi sia capitato di ascoltare recentemente. Per quanto mi riguarda tanto basta. In noise we trust.
Di Federico Fragasso.


Su ROCKIT

I poli si invertono. Il sole modifica la sua natura ciclica. Una massa abnorme ed invisibile si muove nel cosmo. L'attrattore teleologico alza la voce liberando i suoi segugi. In tempi di evoluzioni epocali, Marutti e Balbo prendono la navicella e sorvolano la materia, intonando le lingue dell'ultra-passato e dell'ultra-futuro, capaci di restituire dialoghi ancestrali di cui non possediamo memoria. Che siano due fuoriclasse è una discussione che non prevede dubbi, e nel reciproco donarsi, trovano, qui, una formula subliminale perfetta: elettronica analogica che galleggia tra le stelle, intarsiata da cangianti fremiti krauti ed ambient alieno. Micro disturbi frastagliati, glitch e drone eterei che si scontrano pacificamente in un flusso diretto verso una dimensione altra, in cui cielo e terra si fondono per rigenerarsi. La grana sonora, isolazionista e totalmente libera nel suo crearsi, evolversi e spegnersi, diventa arte fisica che avvolge l'ascoltatore in una coltre nebulosa fatta di dentro e fuori. La somma delle parti, l'unione di due menti, che diventa qualcosa di nuovo senza snaturarsi, per uno dei migliori dischi di elettronica degli ultimi tempi. La definirei musica dello spirito.
Di Stefano Fanti.


Su SODAPOP

Detrimental Dialogue è il tipico caso di disco difficile da recensire, sia per l'oggettiva difficoltà di rendere con le parole la bellezza delle composizioni, sia per la quantità di riferimenti in gioco che, a citarli tutti, farebbero perdere la bussola al lettore. D'altra parte il metodo realizzativo, unito all'eterogeneo retroterra di due musicisti (hardcore e darkwave per Fausto Balbo, industrial e ambient per Andrea Marutti), prometteva una certa varietà: i due hanno registrato le tracce poi, nel corso di due anni, le hanno rielaborate in separata sede e finalmente mixate collettivamente. Come dicevo, il risultato non è facilmente etichettabile dato che entro i confini dell'elettronica viene toccato quasi ogni angolo remoto, dall'ambient isolazionista al rumorismo industrial, fino alle derive più concrete. L'unica definizione che potremmo dare, per quanto decisamente ampia, è di musica cosmica, perché del miglior kraut ritroviamo lo spirito di ricerca unito alla la fascinazione per certa elettronica sporca e guardando la grafica aliena di Stefano "Sicksoul" Rossetti, forse non siamo del tutto fuori strada. Non datevi però troppe certezze: pensate al viaggio allucinato al termine di 2001 Odissea Nello Spazio, ma intrapreso in un universo ingombro di detriti, con un'astronave scassata, dove il computer fa lo spiritoso e i due piloti hanno instaurato un rapporto che oscilla fra sfida e complicità. Lungo le quattro tracce, ognuna caratterizzata da diversi movimenti che si succedono concatenati solo dal prolungarsi di alcuni suoni, vi capiterà di essere disturbati dallo sfrigolare dei mixer in distorsione, attraversati da suoni space o incantati dalla bellezza dei synth che si stendono in morbide aperture melodiche. E poi frequenze che vagano nello spazio e vengono captate quasi per caso: squilli di telefoni, rumorini di videogiochi d'antan, clagori metalli e altro. È ozioso dire che si tratta di canzoni che non trovano la quadratura: nemmeno la cercano e ad ogni ascolto vi appariranno nuove e diverse. Spegnete la luce, mettetevi comodi e partite.
Di Emiliano Zanotti.


Su BLOW UP #153