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CD Feature/ Claudio Parodi: "Horizontal Mover (Homage to Alvin Lucier)"

img  Tobias

Sometimes an album seems to come falling from the sky. Nobody expected it, nobody awaited its arrival and yet it manages to hit a spot and infect and inspire the scene like a friendly virus. “Horizontal Mover” is such an album. Before its release, the name Claudio Parodi was merely known to a few insiders. Now everybody’s talking about him, an invitation to the USA secured supportive comments by “the big names” and Parodi can sit back and relax while the labels fight it out over who will secure the rights to the next six chapters in his series of tributes to some of his favourite composers (Australia’s Extreme Music, who trusted him with this debut naturally holding the first option). And in stark contrast to other hypes, it is not difficult to see what the fuss is all about.

“Horizontal Mover” is an open hommage to Alvin Lucier and “I am sitting in a Room”, still today probably Lucier’s most relished work. After finishing his piece, Parodi sent a copy to the American master in order to gauge the latter’s approval. Lucier replied with candour, labelling it “absolutely beautiful”. He, also, however, admitted: “I will have to re-read your description of the process to more fully understand it.” After having perused Parodi’s liner notes, I fully related to that sentiment. Let’s remember, “I am sitting in a Room” used playback as its main tool, taping a vocal monologue and repeating the process in different locations, piling one recording on the next, creating a smoothed-out soundscape of “resonant frequencies” until the main characteristics of Lucier’s speach had been lost. “Horizontal Mover”, too, uses a similar method, but expands on it by introducing objects which interact with the playbacks, which Parodi divides into three categories: Diffusers (basically playback systems), Resonators (sets of percussion instruments, stirred by the music) and Hummers (amplifiers, the name speaking for itself). Twelve diffusions were recorded, each one using a new setup within the room. From each session, a specific portion of the music was cut and stretched, serving as the basis for the next transmission. At some point, the file got too big for Parodi’s PC and he had to end the compositional process at part number nine to catch a good night of sleep. What happened afterwards is impossible to say precisely, as his description is as enthusiastic as it is personal and leaves a lot of open questions. The main message, however, shines through even without understanding every single word.

Parodi regards processes in themselves as an object of consideration and importance, his fascination for certain musicians is just as much lead by the perceptive pleasures of listening to their tracks, as by the intellectual and emotional stimuli derrived from observing and analysing their methods. A definition of a composer, in his eyes, is not only made up of what we hear but also needs to take into account the “why” and “how” of what reaches the ear. In a sense, this can be regarded as a statement of defiance against contemporary popular aesthetics, which consider the backgrounds to a piece merely as a sidenote: Composing and composition belong together on “Horizontal Mover”.

It should be fitting then that we should arrive at a description of the actual music only at the very end of this text. In a single piece of almost an hour’s length, Parodi moves from a mysterious, concrete opening to more and more opaque and abstract drones and to echoes of the physical moving inside the intangible. The long end of the work seems to feed from the bustling, energetic opening sequence, thinning out more and more, occasionaly rearing up again, but always sinking back into a feeble gaze. Listening to the music slowly die out has a dark kind of voyeuristic pleasure to it and draws the listener in ever more as he approaches the abyss of the last note as certainly as we all must die. Parodi may not have succeded in revealing his methods. But his music is certainly enough of a palatable process on its own to explain why it is the talk of the town in the experimental community right now.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Extreme Records

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