For nearly five years, the Italian imprint, Ivreatronic, has been issuing strange, fascinating, and wonderful artefacts by a range of artists who manage to bridge the musical underground and popular culture in inexplicable ways. Working at slow and metered pace, we heard from them since their last batch in 2021 that comprised Cosmo’s “Fermarsi”, Foresta’s “Paesaggi”, and Enrico Ascoli’s “La Manigua”. Now they’re back with three more unexpected gems of ambitious experimentalism, flowering from within Italy’s borders, Tiresia’s “Sirene”, Hawaii8 & Friends’s “Archivi 1999/2021”, and Alien Alien / Prokofiev / Foresta’s “Visioni Fuggitive”.
Spanning a remarkable range of conceptual and creative ground between them, Ivreatronic’s latest batch collectively unveils new dimensions of possibilities at the heights of ambitious music and offers further proof of Italy’s singular contributions to the global scene. All three releases are available separately, as well as in a bundled set edition of 80 copies comprising all three that culminates as one of the most singular and exciting sonic adventures of the year.
Tiresia "Sirene" (LP)
Tiresia is the Milan based duo of veteran experimentalists Bruno Dorella and Stefano Ghittoni. Both active since the 1990s, Dorella in projects like Ovo, Ronin, and Sigillum S, and Ghittoni in The Dining Rooms, Le Petit, and numerous others, each have trod a fascinating path at the borders of the underground and the popular realm.
The formation of Tiresia was inspired by a mythological character of the same name which is both male and female, fortune-teller and fugitive, and has lived multiple lives. It is also a nod to the name of one of the main characters in the movie “I Cannibali” (1970) by Liliana Cavani, drawing on some of the films police themes that were declared “out of time and inappropriate” tragic and disturbing, and too realistic” upon its premier. “Sirene” is the duo’s second album, following on from 2019’s “Estatico”, and encounters Dorella and Ghittoni. collaborating with Julie Normal on two of the tracks.
“Sirene” illuminates a fascinating territory within which Dorella and Ghittoni have worked for many years, the meeting of experimental techniques and inviting temperaments drawn from different avenues of pop. Almost presentend like the soundtrack for a film that never was, the album begins with the gauzy hazes and ambiences of electroacoustic sound, before threading in subtle rhythms, arpeggiations, and beats that carry the momentum forward at a staggered and slightly broken pace.
A moody, brooding landscape of sonority that retains a striking sense of abstraction, furthered by the textural complexity of its source material - samples, tape manipulations, field recordings, and unconventional sounds worked amongst traditional instrumentation - Tiresia’s “Sirene” manages to create an intoxicatingly inviting space to be occupied and explored, much like was done by later day Coil. Ranging from bristling electronic practice, psychedelic minimalism, and dense ambience, laced with a touch of shoegaze, it’s truly a beautiful thing to behold.
Hawaii8 & Friends "Archivi 1999/2021" (2LP)
The second release in Ivreatronic’s is somewhat mysterious. Almost no information is offered beyond the fact that the artist at the healm is Ivrea born and based, was a founding member of the band Drink To Me, and has worked under numerous aliases other than Hawaii8 - the moniker under which this release fall - including One Eye, Vülvá, Low Waves, Sui, and Bitch Volley. “Archivi 1999/2021” comprises two LPs of material - 20 track in total - created on a wide range of electronic instrumentation over the 22 years between 1999 and 2021, culled from cassettes, multitrack tapes, and hard drives.
The work encountered across the four sides of “Archivi 1999/2021” is unquestionably part of the flowering of electronic music that occurred toward the end of the 1990s, encountering the beginnings of a scene that had begun as adjacent to dance culture, moving toward increasingly more abstract and ambient realms. As we encounter it here, emerging from the hands of Hawaii8, we move across the decades from the raw thrill of early DIY to increasingly more sophisticated and refined experiments.
Ranging from bubbling ambience pieces, relaxed Balearic tinged beat oriented pieces, and bristling electroacoustic gestures which embrace a stronger sense of abstraction, “Archivi 1999/2021” is an immersion into a restless and searching creative mind, following striking pathways of electronic music over more than two decades with the dexterity of a skilled and endlessly evolving hand. Deeply engaging, and consternating stitching crucial connections that defy the boundaries of genre across its length, Hawaii8 & Friends’ “Archivi 1999/2021” is yet another crucial unveiling of the inner workings of Italy’s thriving underground scene.
Alien Alien / Prokofiev / Foresta "Visioni Fuggitive" (LP)
“Visioni Fuggitive” is yet another strange and unexpected byproduct of the Italian underground scenes to which Ivreatronic attends. Encountering the project Alien Alien - Edoardo Cianfanelli and Hugo Sanchez - working with Marco Foresta to realise a conceptual rich, electronic rethinking of the composer Sergei Prokofiev’s “Visions fugitives, Op. 22”, a cycle of twenty piano miniatures, written between 1915 and 1917, that incorporate dissonant harmonies while retaining elements of tonality and rhythm.
Drawing on their long-standing fascination with this piece / these pieces, Edoardo Cianfanelli, Hugo Sanchez, and Marco Foresta - working under the monikers Alien Alien and Foresta respectively - rethink Prokofiev’s “Visions fugitives, Op. 22” within the futuristic forms that only electroacoustic music can produce.
Intertwining a vast range of source material, fragments of piano lines, buzzing electronics, field recordings, synthesis, and a ranging of processing, the duo/ trio pushes the impressionist elements of Prokofiev’s original vision - rooted in the natural world, toward the otherworldly and deeply emotive, creating a seamless expanse that stretches to roughly 45 minutes in length, shifting and evolving with delicate subtlety as it progresses.
Incredibly immersive and deeply engaging on both conceptual and creative terms, Alien Alien and Foresta manage what so many should but rarely do, tapping the long history of Western classical music as a source of inspiration, rather than something to be coveted and maintained in its original form, which in this case manages to bring Prokofiev to life in an entirely different age and context. Highly recommended on every count.