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Under the banner of a higher goal

img  Tobias

“There is always a structure and shape behind an experimental composition”, Alessandro Tedeschi says while talking about the dividing line between “serious” and “popular” music, “but for a ‘new’ listener, it’s more difficult to discover.” Alessandro is relaxed and gladly answers my questions about his stance towards some general issues, such as his approach to composing, his influences and his quality standards. He has every reason to be satisfied, with two of his albums out - one on his own, quickly growing Glacial Movements label, (“Morketid”) as well as on Canadian outfit Mondes Elliptiques (“Kall”). The conditioning of the masses towards easy digestability by the “fixed” structures of Pop and Rock need not be a dilemma, however. To overcome this situation, Tedeschi has founded his Netherworld project and reinvigorated an art fallen out of love with the general public: Conceiving albums as closed entities and as more than just a loose collection of tracks. And the works in question may well prove his approach to be a promising one.

Playing the Quietness of Silence: The beginning
2007 has been a good year for Netherworld up to now. “Cryosphere”, a sampler featuring some of his friends and like-minded artists, continues to win over listeners as well as reviewers, while French 3 inch specialist Taalem released “Hallucinations” in Spring. The material on that concisely woven disc dates back to 2005 and to Tedechi’s beginnings. Only one year earlier, he had made his debut on Umbra, the record company headed by his Italian compatriot Oophoi – who has remained a friend and also took on production duties for some of his latest output. Two more CDs on Umbra would follow suit and turn Netherworld into one of the more succesful purveyors of a style now known as “Isolationist Ambient”, which confronts the individual with forces beyond his control, while trying to mirror the beauty of epic, barren landscapes with immeasurable dimensions.” I would like to play the quietness of silence” is his way of formulating his vision.

Morketid: Music like a reindeer sweater

On “Morketid” (available directly from Glacial Movements), he tranlates this thought into a coherent statement. In accordance with his label’s name, ice and the magnetism of the poles play a dominant role. According to the press release, the album title is a “Norwegian term that indicates a certain period in the year, when the Arctic winter cold encases everything and the sun doesn’t rise over the horizon.” Sound material from the region, sometimes only snippet-sized, as well as atmospherically hidden vocal samples form the source for six compositions between seven and almost thirteen minutes’ length. All sense of time gets lost in Tedeschi’s reduced arrangements, which use a single structural idea per piece and a densely woven net of only a few select sounds to develop their charm. Interestingly, the result is never frosty or alien, but rather of a woolen coziness, just like that reindeer sweater that will keep you warm in the last months of the year. It is a paradox one often encounters, even in the genre’s eternal classic “Antarctica” by Vangelis.Maybe if more contemporary isolationist ambient masters would actually experience the ragged nature of the vast icelands for real, their music would be different. ”I think that in order to release my best work, I need to go to the Arctic area for inspiration.”, Netherworld agrees, but he never intended “Morketid” to be a perfect representation of the North Pole anyway. Instead, the album aims at a complete transformation of his source material and subsequently “a new vision of the Arctic”. In that respect, this album certainly delivers.

Kall: Ghoulish atonal cluster waves
At first sight (or on a first listen), the differences with “Kall” could hardly be more obvious. “The Abyss where dreams fall” is the subtitle of an record which sounds like a nightmare vision of its immediate predecessor. The artwork is abstract and reduced to a few needle-like lines and the production comes across as cold, distant, menacing and decidedly intimidating. In fact, the tracks transport the feeling of sitting blindfolded in a pitch-black hall with asthmatic noises envelopping one completely. And yet, there are obvious similarities: Just like on “Morketid”, rhythm plays a subtle, but exremely important role. Instead of grounding his tracks with concrete grooves, Tedeschi creates a sense of constant movement by in- and deflating his drone impulses like black baloons amidst the rumbling and scraping processed field recordings and by developping a dialogue between them and piercing feedback harmonics. The notion of inescapability is intensified by submitting all elements to the same set of rules and by not even once reducing the tension: It is almost as if he were playing the same track with slightly different parameters each time. Even the ghoulish atonal cluster waves of the twenty-two minute long “Kall Part 3” keep crushing on a shore without ebb, tide and salvation. No wonder that this encounter with what can not be put into words does not culminate in a triumphant climax, but rather floats off on the wings of a silent afterthought: In the final installment, the work drags itself towards the finish line until there is nothing more to say.

There is an element of breathing in all Netherworld-compositions, a clear sense of inhaling and exhaling, which renders them humane even under the most inhuman circumstances. But what strikes me as even more characteristic is that Tedeschi remains faithful to one mood throughout. He defines his methods at the outset, creates a pool from whence to draw his colours and then paints different canvases with the same material. In essence, that is what creating albums, not just a collection of tracks is about. And to Alessandro Tedeschi, this has a simple reason: “Behind each single sound, sibilance or noise, there is the artist… if there isn’t a specific goal, there can be no relationship between sound and composition.” In the Netherworld., the higher goal binds everything together – and makes it easy even for “new” listeners to find their way.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Netherworld / Glacial Movements
Homepage: Netherworld / Glacial Movements at MySpace
Homepage: Mondes Elliptiques

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