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CD Feature/ Giancarlo Vulcano: "vetro"

img  Tobias
The career of Giancarlo Vulcano has gone step by step. He started off with gradually piecing together small gigs like any other guitarist in New York and made his way into the team of Hollywood composer Howard Shore. In the early years, he had three dreams: To be able to live off music, to release an album of his own and compose a soundtrack himself. With the advent of “vetro”, two of those dreams have already come true.

Of course, there is no mystery to this story, but Vulcano did not want it any other way. It also tells you a great deal about what to expect on his debut. Why, after all, should the music of this man be any different from his stance towards life?

Simplicity is therefore the keyword to “vetro” and it is so in a very pure and completely unironic way. The session to the disc took shape in the years between 2003 and 2005, while Vulcano was organising concerts with a group of befriended artists under the “Forecast Music” banner: Yvonne Troxler on piano, violinist Romulo Benavides and Clarinetist Enid Blount are all companions from that time and the intimacy and instrumentation of this ensemble lends their performance a strong touch of chamber music.

Even though “vetro” is not a live document and sessions took place in a studio environment, the approach to interpretation was one of feeling towards each other instead of following the fixed trajectory of a score. Maintaining the delicate balance between a casual exchange of ideas among friends and an exact knowledge, anticipation and reaction to what one’s partners have done, are doing and are going to do in just a second’s time from now wil be a hard act to follow for anyone who decides to try and perform this music

And that is a remarkable fact for a music which has a pronouncedly naive and playful quality to it. The three musical portraits (of Arthur Rimbaud, Richard Manuel and of Giancarlo Vulcano himself) which frame the other tracks on the album all use the same thematic material and sound as though they happened right in the moment, with a tape recorder running by complete accident. Each repetition of the main motive is different, the individual rhythms sometimes fall out of sync, the introduction of some of the players are hushed and shy.

And yet the music keeps flowing without end, loosing itself in itself like Pachelbel’s “Canon”. On the grave “Piano Death Theme” the trick is repeated at the border of unconsciousness and at the brink of atonality, while the jazzy “3 x 3” numbers one and two have a less dreamy and more physical ring to them.

What strikes me most about these pieces is that there is no hidden meaning underneath the surface, nor some surprising technical trick: This music is what it is. It neither searches for shelter underneath the roof of some intellectual concept, nor does it seek to obscure its directness in vague terminology. The nine minutes of “Portrait of Arthur Rimbaud” are nothing but an eternal repetition, sometimes fading into short stretches of silence, but then picking up the thread again right after.

The magic lies in this particular melody itself, in its inherent quality of not only surviving through the subsequent mantric loops but actually getting stronger each time and resonating more vividly inside the listener. The art of Giancarlo Vulcano is not his ability to turn his material into something intangibly beautiful through skillfull craftmanship, but of discovering material that already carries this quality in its womb from the very start.

“vetro” approaches its goal, without any deadline or hurries. Despite its accesibility, it is the perfect anithesis to Pop music. While the latter wants to speed time up to the breathless pulse of a sprinter, this album binds all beginnings and endings into an infinite circle outside of it. Never since first listening to the work of William Basinski have I been so moved by a music so self-forgotten and seemingly detached from everything around it.

Giancarlo Vulcano has lived his life step by step, forcing nothing on himself or anyone else. But it is certainly a most welcome move that he has decided to share his dream with the rest of the world.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Giancarlo Vulcano
Homepage: Innova Recordings

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