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CD Feature/ Enrico Coniglio: "Areavirus: Topofonie Vol 1"

img  Tobias

Everything about this record is soft – except its opening. “Stalking Venice” kicks off with nervously scratching rhythms, alien whistlings, brazen synthesizer stabs and electric sizzlings and retains a dark, moody ambiance throughout. Is this the soundtrack to a “Venetian lagoon”, which we were promised by the press release?

Towards the end of the first track, however, the shuffling hihat patterns are counterpointed by flickering oscillations and a gradual slowdown towards a consoling finale. It is almost, as if Enrico Coniglio first needed to exorcise his demos, before allowing himself to drown in the beauty of the scenery, the nightly shades and salty smells of the city. And then the dream commences.

“Areavirus – Topofonie Vol. 1” has been named one of the ambient albums noone should miss this year and that is absolutely correct - if one allows for some explanations with regards to the terminology. Of course, large parts of this album can be listened to in the state between waking and sleeping, when the mind is still active enough to take in the audio information, but too hazy to rationally digest it. And yet, Coniglio defines “ambient” more as a music that searches to build environments itself, rather than filling existing ones with inobtrusive sound. As subtle as his pieces may be, they are always intended for concentrated listening and hold suprising twists and turns in arrangement or instrumentation:

A sizeable amount of friends and colleagues has been invited to join the sessions, making for a colourful ensemble filled with clarinets, strings and trumpets. The polarities between electric and non-amplified instruments fades in tracks like “Murania” and “Olivolo”, which swing between agitated beats and atmospheric stasis, between harmonic rest and melodic energy and between the delicate drones of Coniglio’s Synth- and Guitarloops and the concrete timbres of his collaborators.

The record is most clearly defined by its tranquil moments, but “Areavirus” keeps a sense of movement by juxtaposing them with slightly more edgey material and beat-oriented work, such as in the jazz-tinged aquatic fantasy “W&J theme”. Even then, however, everything remains dulcet and retained, each elemement carefully gauging its position in the overall composition. The result is a sonambulent style with strong visual characteristics, a music which relies mainly on moods, but builds them from very “musical” components.

The density of “Areavirus” leaves a strong impression but what astonishes most is that it manages to award a huge importance to its guests, while integrating them completely into the album as a whole. Even Krautrock legend Hans-Joachim Roedelius (who has released with Psychonavigation Records only recently) is merely one of the names among many others on the backcover, instead of appearing like a trophy on the front.

When the album’s over, the main feeling is not only one of softness, but of elevation as well – the dream is over, the body is rested and the mind filled with intense memories of what it has picked up over the last hour.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Enrico Coniglio
Homepage: Psychonavigation Records

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