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CD Feature/ Antonio della Marina: "Fades"

img  Tobias

In the work of an honest composer, his true personality will always shine through. Which is why Antonio della Marina hasn’t even tried to present himself as someone he isn’t, admitting his “naturally slow disposition” right away in the booklet introduction to “Fades”. It has indeed taken quite a while from his first experiments in sinosoidal sound synthesis in 1999 to the homonymous audio installation and this CD, out on the colourful and slightly Jazz-tinged “i dischi di angelica” label. In fact, this disc represents his very first release and compared to the statistics of acts like Aidan Baker or Bjerga/Iversen, who have managed to publish their music faster than the average consumer can possibly digest, the results of his seven-year plan do look quite meager. That is, until you actually start listening.

For there is a special quality about sine sounds – they are pristine and pure, very direct and yet intensely deep, dry and simultaneously shimmering and above all, they evoke strong physical sensations akin to Junge’an archetypes: Feelings of home and comfort in the lower end of the spectrum and of transcendence in the upper registers. Della Marina explores all of these different capacities and states and the result is an exactly one hour long track which glides through several different stages like a child skidding down an endless slide at the flank of the Himalayan on a clear blue-clouded day. Pitch and timbre are the focal points, but he treats them with love and dedication, not the gloves of a scientist. The musical reality shrivels to the size of a little round sphere, through which all music passes and every little detail suddenly takes on meaning. At the beginning, there is only a single tone at the surface. As glistening harmonics set in, the movement sinks deeper into the sphere’s skin, spiraling peacefully towards its centre. What at first appears to be an academic exercise has got you travelling in your seat after three minutes, as the quiet harmonies embrace, melt and dissolve again and again. “Fades” is a caleidoscopic piece, with the eyes fixed to the shining pieces of red, blue and yellow glass, while Antonio’s hand slowly turns the knob. A deep drone expands, collecting the twinkling little tonal lights surrounding it, getting thicker and smoother, before mutating into a huge silent orchestra of tibetan gongs and bells and then loosing all weight and entering a suspended phase, which is dominated by floating sounds forming whispering chords and minimal melodies for the entire last half hour. Absent-minded, this bubble drifts inside a tender vacuum, towards a dreamy finale, which brings in some rhythmical palpatations, before – pun intended – fading into the void.

All of this takes place in the slow tempo of his natural disposition, but it is all the more soothing and breathtaking for it. It is hard to imagine the work which must have gone in getting this just right, but it is not the labour which is most impressive about “Fades”, but the ease with which these sines move, morph and mutate from up-front notes to heavenly hummings and angelic ambient. “I have found in this kind of audio exploration an open field of perception the end of which is still far from sight”, della Marina promises at the end of his text, implicitely announcing more of the same for the future. Let’s hope he’s been absolutely honest about that as well.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Antonio della Marina
Homepage: I dischi di angelica Records

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