srijeda, 28. siječnja 2015.

Roberto Crippa - Reverse (2014)


Okrutna sanjarenja strojeva koji ne sanjaju.

This impressive debut album of monstrous electroacoustic ooze lurches through the cold mud with a jackbooted miserabilism and a penchant for cruelty. Crippa structures much of his work around crawling rhythms that are gnarled as if through genetic mutation, and he injects the blank spaces with smouldering, mutilated noises imbued with the psychological horror of bloody scratches on a crime scene wall. With the exception of a curiously unwise synth melody on “Still”, Reverse maintains a thousand-yard stare as it trudges zombie-like towards oblivion; an approach exemplified by the relentless slog of distortion, grime and thud on the finale “Helix”. - Jim Haynes, The Wire Magazine,

We Can Elude Control really caught my attention last year with Nocturnal Emissions and the guttural Accumulator. The imprint of Paul Purgas, aka Emptyset, is now introducing a new name to electronics. Roberto Crippa is a London based electronic musician with a penchant for noise and musique concrete. His debut album, Reverse, paints a cityscape of greying facades, wondrous skylines and a somewhat frightening underbelly.
Crippa, originally from Milan, is a pioneers in London’s noise scene. His performances see live recordings, library sounds and outright experimentation blended into an insular and unsettling soundscape. The album seems to remove emotion, instead the focus is on the physicality of sound. Brutalised bass rhythmically punishes in “Order,” a flyblown landscape of cement and pavement painted in broad and haunting sounds. Chords press into skin, the sheer weight of Crippa’s bars forcing air from lungs. A constant tension menaces the surface, an unease and uncertainty permeating all. Silence is the other side of the Italian’s style, pauses and scratched stillness juxtaposing the claustrophobia. An ever present paranoia stalks the LP, tracks like “Matter” carving ever tightening circles around the listener. That unnerving element is never escaped, instead it is consistently amplified. “Helix” closes, the listener being swallowed under ultra-stretched string and mounting interference.
Crippa pulls you into his sepulchral world. The atmosphere is cold, almost debilitating. A sound of late night wakings, wakings brought on by a chilling dream or a shrill distant cry. At times Reverse is difficult to digest, but this is an LP of severe scenarios and almost inhuman environments. Hag-ridden echoes from machines that don’t dream. -

We open with “Reflection” as we begin to peer through the looking glass down into the still but murky waters of what lies beyond. It’s a dark and brooding piece from the outset and it’s determined to get us into an unsettled mood ready for the journey ahead with its wet synth slaps, mysterious and shifting scuttles and scrapes and evocative drone spans. It’s a surprisingly organic piece for something that’s so sparse and menacing, full of little skittering lifeforms. It eventually crawls its way to followup “Order, which is entirely more active and driven right from the get go. A slow and carefully placed drumline sets the slow marching pace of its namesake and becomes something of the axis of the track, the distortion swirling around it and fraying its edges with chaos whilst binding together the light wafts of ethereal backing drone. Piercing shafts of synth light bring some illumination to affairs but its a stark and harsh one, revealing the hard contrast between order and chaos.
As we go on little progress is made with the soundscape; “Still” arrives on a similar platter as the opener did and evolves loosely into a wash of jittering electronic noise and glitches, menacing bells tolling and sending these restless microorganisms of sound skittering in its wake, like tiny fish in a pond. Despite my imagery its a surprisingly lifeless piece to my ears; it’s fairly content to just stay practically motionless and only in the closing moments do we hear something vaguely reminiscent of a delicate synth riff. Metaphysical references continue onwards with “Spectrum” and we’re starting to get into a sound I can get behind. Thick, buried and stilted synth lines throb in the heart of the mix as they try to burst free, encased in that stuttering glitch fuzz, those low and broad wavelengths on the EM spectrum drowned out by the background noise of the small wavelength stuff. Finally it doesn’t feel aimless and it’s got a sense of scale, of progression, clearly and slowly expanding in scope and eeriness with its twisted, inhuman sounds.
“Matter” is probably the finest work of the album, a clear and conscientious mass of lush, ordered drones weaving the fabric of reality, populated by gorgeously gritty pulses of growling guitar and spastic glitch. Much like our expanding universe the piece balloons in volume and scope and ferocity in a dark but most intimate crescendo across its duration. It’s the realisation of the scale of our universe as a child, the overwhelming anxiety of the seemingly infinite black that extends in every direction and our microscopic part in the cosmic dance. It’s a stunner for sure, and “Vector” is not bad itself, skirting “Matter”‘s coattails with a pulsating bassline and repetitive riffs, synonymous with the infinitely scalable and beautifully precise algorithms of its namesake. It’s a little unambitious for sure though, and ends rather abruptly to allow it to shift gears into the cavernous rumbles of “Curved”, whose echoic drone opener slipstreams into a complex plethora of piercing skiffs and juddering bass of epic proportion but in a kind of restrained and reserved sort of way.
Finally “Helix” arrives to close the album for us in perhaps the most alarming way possible. Whilst it’s nothing we havent already heard before, there’s something about the bent and smeared guitars in this final track that make it so much more dangerous and imposing than anything else, the music refreshing and resetting itself on every turn of the circle as it quickly cycles towards its point of origin, curling back upon itself in a dramatic and self-destructive finalé of panicked and oppressive noise. And just like that, just as we find ourselves at the terrifying yet mesmerising peak, it cuts out and we lapse back into silence.
I’m hesitant to conclude because the reality of this album is that I have no idea what it’s trying to convey as a whole. Perhaps nothing; there does seem to be something of a lose metaphysical theme and much of the sonic repertoire is repeated throughout, it’s relatively cohesive in that sense, I just dont get what I’m supposed to get out of it. That being said I’m not Noise’s biggest campaigner and I often dont understand the appeal of those records that dont have the scale and rawness and catharsis of my genre favourites, but there’s some pretty stunning tracks here nonetheless. It took me a while to get into but there’s something in the refined style of “Matter” and the brash “Helix” that I love wholeheartedly, I just wish there were a little more dynamism and progression in some of the other works. -

After a series of superb works, the first 2014 release by English electronic label We Can Elude Control, has been Roberto Crippa’s “Reverse”. The album underlines the talent of this Italian musician and reaffirms the commitment to quality this label, which is managed by Emptyset’s Paul Purgas, has shown for the last few years. Based in London, the Italian has gained both acclamation and support from many in experimental music scene. With “Reverse”, the artist has taken a firm first step into sound creation.
Comparable to other big names in contemporary electronic music scene such as Raime or Kangding Ray, with only one studio album Roberto Crippa is already recognisable as one of the key acts in the world of musical experimentation. In fact, “Reverse”, which is highly influenced by noise, musique concrète and electroacoustic composition, represents one of the most remarkable works in 2014 so far. The album consists of eight tracks that provide potential listeners with a myriad of shadowy but still solid-as-a-rock atmospheres. Due to Crippa’s awesome ability to merge organic natural sounds, such as wood or metal, with profound abrasive layers, this full length manages to transform listeners’ context into a mixture of familiar dystopia and deep hypnagogia. All the eight tracks combine formless structures and state of art distortion, which provides the LP with a highly evocative, immersive and penetrating effect. The constant slow-pace brutalised bass in “Order”, for instance, gets wrapped around a beautiful background atmosphere that increases its presence as minutes go by. “Curved” dives into post-industrial or even dark-ambient, reminding of Emptyset’s 2011 “Demiurge”. Finally, ”Helix” closes the album taking listeners to the very essence of Crippa’s personal offering, i.e., full frequency and raw power.
At first glance, “Reverse” could be seen as a non-emotional and homogenous work, but nothing is further from the truth. Full of contrasts and visceral, every track has its own imprint and should bury potential listener under a compound of drone layers, massive distorted bass sounds and obscure landscapes. Undoubtedly, what he have here is an outstanding debut album. -   

More and more sound artists are using technology to construct otherworldly environments. This is particularly prevalent in the damned and doomed soundscapes of extreme musics like drone and doom metal, who use distortion and power chords to carve out megaliths of sound, for modern pagans to lose themselves in animal abandon.
With electronic music’s inherent ability to create alien atmospheres, with no real-world corollaries, you’d think more electronic producers would take the opportunity to create fresh and strange worlds. Thankfully, there is a rising tide of dark experimentalists who are doing precisely that.
It’s funny, Crippa’s iron oxide bassweight had me thinking of Emptyset before i realized that this came out on that duo’s We Can Elude Control imprint. Reverse features similar amorphous, ominous sound shapes to Emptyset‘s Recur, which used a similar sonic architecture to explore, and recreate, the acoustic properties of a decaying Gothic villa.
Reverse employs similar tactics, and melds them with the spectral sonic psychogeography of The Stranger’s Watching Dead Empires In Decay, and Actress’ Ghettoville, along with the primordial drum machine worship of Stephen O’ Malley‘s recent collaboration with Mika Vainio, as Aanipaa. If Italian psych-metallers Ufomammut were to construct their Snail god worship with disembodied frequencies, instead of downtuned guitars, it would sound something like Reverse.
Reverse is mighty. The bass is crushing, 1000 metric tons per square inch, and will make you feel like you’re under the weight of the ocean. Are we becoming aware of the weight of gravity well? Will this pressure simply becoming too overwhelming, until we’re forced to flee the atmosphere?
Reverse is ominous and full of dread, without ever succumbing to trite tropes, meant to imply savagery. No shrieking, no blastbeats, just an oozing, sucking menace, like on “Order” and “Spectrum”, both stand out tracks, that fit in nicely next to that Emptyset record. At its best, Crippa’s music sounds like a gargantuan, jet-black slug slurping its way out of a radioactive tar pit. It’s positively filthy, in the best possible way. A baptism in the sludge of the world…
Reverse sounds like exploring a mysterious, abandoned city, crawling into its dark heart to find the titan machines that keeps its husk alive. Ghost drones and harmonics weave in and out, sounding like ventilation shafts, over the deep resonance of subterranean chambers. Reverse also sounds like ritualistic hunting music for Morlocks, suggesting you may not be alone, in this space.
Reverse‘s reluctance towards melodies, or other aspects that make this recognizable as “music” means you can play this repetitively, losing yrself in its labyrinthine corridors, again and again, and finding something new each time.
Crippa’s sound design is impeccable, with bass frequencies being sculpted into glistening, frightening new configurations we’ve never seen or heard before. This sound design is captured and refined with flawless mixing, with colossal reverbs, that inherently suggests Giger-esque cavernous chambers.
More and more, i am seeing signs that, as a species, we are becoming interested in exploration. Of course, leaving the familiar is always terrifying proposition, but staying with things, exactly as they are, may be more terrifying still. We must face the blackness of space, the hollowness of void, to inherit our destiny, and discover new horizons.
Reverse is a hell of a dark ambient dancefloor lament configuration. It will open new worlds, in your neural pathways, leading to alien visions of crumbling worlds. Try yr best not to be afraid. But when you hear that might shlurping, oozing crawl, run for your life!
For writers who are working on stories featuring alien worlds or civilizations, seeking to conjure lost and decayed technologies and primordial Gods, this would be an excellent soundtrack for your imaginations. Similarly, this would make a good score for anyone reading Stanislaw Lem, H.P. Lovecraft, or other approximations of mankind’s inability to approach the alien sublime.
Many thanks to Jonathan Lee of Disco Insolence, for the excellent recommendation.
Got something you’d like to see reviewed on Forestpunk? We take requests. You can shoot us mail at, or drop by and leave a comment on the FB page! It might take a while, but we strive to get to everything that comes our way. -

Secret Thirteen Mix 127 - Roberto Crippa

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