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CD Feature/ Luca Formentini: "Tacet"

img  Tobias
Schopenhauer maintained that all modern philosophy needed to occupy itself with language. With regards to „Tacet“, one could come to the conclusion that all art critique should too. Luca Formentini has doubtlessly caused some head-scratching confusion with his latest effort, confounding critics with an outwardly obvious disparity between the concept laid out in the press release and the actual music. Where he promised silence, there is sound. Where one expected gaps in texture, Formentini creates continuity. A misunderstanding?

Hardly. Luca Formentini may be a romantic, but he is not naive. His career dates back to the 80s, to the tape scene of his native Italy and includes collaborations with former CAN-member Holger Czukay. While it has become something of a trend of lately, he was already using the guitar as a textural instrument and creating links between the structures of Ambient and Rock when most of today's drone-builders were still in their diapers. „Tacet“ is not a step back or a sudden esoteric fling, it is a record which catches Formentini at a point when a strong self-confidence about one's art and a complete casualness about external expectations are no longer in opposition with each other.

With all of this in mind, one can expect a paradox to be part of the plan. „Whatever happened to Silence?“ is the question at the outset and whatever the answer may be, initially it seems to bear no relevance to „Tacet“. For the album, Formentini has invited Marcus Stockhausen on Trumpet as well as Drummer Steve Jansen of “Japan” and “Nine Horses” fame into the studio and recorded a work of gleaming and pristine clarity, which encapsulates the most diverse styles.

Billowing fields of harmonics slowly fill spaces of dry-lipped Jazz figures, smooth grooves are penetrated by majestically unfolding bass vibrations, almost inaudible sonic events scraping the membrane of the microphone swindle down a vortex of bittersweet chord cycles. Everything is woven into one big arch, a single, contiguous succession of inhaling and exhaling.

Resonance plays an essential part here. Formentini wants backwards movement to be recognisable as such and his vocal utterings to retain their humanity. But he manages to keep things interesting by the sheer strength of his motives and the depth of the production. The „New“ takes place inside the listener, he seems to say, not the notes.

This idea may well be the key to understanding the overall concept behind the work. „Tacet is silence you can feel“, the composer says on his homepage, „There is no more silence to hear.“ Quite clearly, Luca Formentini is not interested in how he can integrate lengthy stretches of nothingness into the score or building it from a black hole. Silence, to him, is a state in which the mind has come to rest, not a set of outward factors. His music aims at attaining this state through balancing very physical and completely intangible moments. He unites long and drifting passages with hushed, barely thirty second short tracks and by harmonising pure sound with artistic constructs of music.

In fact, even though each piece has a title, individuality becomes increasingly irrelevant as the album nears its conclusion. What matters is that everything progresses both along the lines of what has happened in the past and with the unprojectable surprises the future inavoidable holds for us.

Through the careful integration of these factors, the album approaches silence from the perspective of noise, lifting the contradiction some have seen in his concept. Maybe, however, there was none in the first place. „Tacet“, after all, only translates to „Silence“ for lack of better words. In fact, it merely describes a state in which noone speaks, for which the English language, in all of its richness, does not provide a synonym. Maybe Formentini was merely suggesting that silence can only happen when one leaves the stream of rationality and verbal expression behind and instead focusses on listening.

Whatever be the case, art can profit from these kind of mindgames. Confusion, as David Lynch correctly pointed out, is a very powerful emotion after all.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Luca Formentini
Homepage: Extreme Records

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