Gigi Masin / Rod Modell
Within the solitary pathways of experimental music, collaboration can often open glimmers of light onto new realms, taking each of the participating artist to places that they might not have encountered on their own. For years, it is just this kind of encounter that the Italian imprint, Silentes and its numerous labels - 13, Oltrelanebbiailmare, Silentes Minimal Editions, Silentes Tapestry, St.An.Da. - have encouraged among its artists. Their latest, “Red Hair Girl at Lighthouse Beach”, encounters two of the most important artists in their stable, Gigi Masin and Rod Modell, coming together in collaboration for the first time. A sublime gesture of ambient minimalism, featuring two long-form compositions, it stands high among our favorite releases to have appeared from either artist in recent years. Absolutely stunning from the first sounding to the last, it’s issued by Silentes in three very special editions: a black vinyl edition of 222 copies, a clear vinyl edition of 111 copies - both with printed cover and inner sleeve, with a special transparent obi - and a six-panel digipack CD edition. It would be hard to think of a better soundtrack for the shift between the summer and autumn lights.
For an artist of his stature, Masin’s output has been relatively constrained over the last 40 or so years. Beginning as a radio DJ at the age of 18, his creative practice began not long after when he embarked upon a process of manipulating records during theatre performances. This would eventually lay the groundwork, during the late 1970s, for a body of experimental sound collages made from tape loops, field recordings and turntablism, through which Masin discovered his own musical voice, culminating in the release of his legendary debut album “Wind” in 1987. Between during '80s and early '90s, his discography only counts three releases - the aforementioned “Wind”; a split LP with Charles Hayward, “Les Nouvelles Musiques de Chambre Volume 2”; and “The Wind Collector”, his brilliant collaboration with Alessandro Monti; before leaving a gap of a full decade before his next release in 2001. Thankfully, over 20 years since his reemergence, Masin’s discography has begun to swell. Over the last five years alone, we’ve witnessed eight remarkable releases between full lengths and EPs.
Where Gigi Masin hails from Venice, Italy - drawing the many moods and histories of that town into his work - his counterpart for “Red Hair Girl at Lighthouse Beach”, Rod Modell, belongs to a very different geography and set of concerns, that of Detroit in the United States. Since his emergence onto the scene during the 1990s, Modell has divided his efforts between more experimental ambient works issued under his given name and within projects like Waveform Transmission, and his output under the DeepChord moniker, a project that has cut a wide path for more than two decades within the fields of dub techno and ambient techno, all of which have issued a continuous stream of releases on imprints like Astral Industries, 13, Silentes, and numerous others over the years.
The album’s first side encounters the pair enveloped in the experimental textural realms for which Modell has become widely recognized. Across the piece’s nearly 20-minute duration, field recordings intersect with subtle, repetitive rhythms and a slow shift of durational tones, progressively evolving toward greater density and incorporating the stronger preens of electronic processing as it goes, resulting in a composition of profoundly immersive beauty. The second side of “Red Hair Girl at Lighthouse Beach” finds the duo occupying a signature territory of sonority that fans of Masin will instantly recognize. Centered around sublime sheets of ambience spun from keyboard lines, trumpet, voice, and other instrumental sources, here Modell wields an artfully restrained hand within his creative partner’s moody pathways, enriching the reverberance with a greater sense of texture and intrigue, sculpting a form of minimalism with uncharted emotional depths that unleashes unexpected moments of joy in its final phase via an unexpected unfurling of arpeggiating notes.
A true triumph of collaboration within the field of contemporary minimalism and ambient music, we can only hope that “Red Hair Girl at Lighthouse Beach” is only the first of many encounters between Gigi Masin and Rod Modell. It’s a stunning piece of work and a high-water mark for both. Issued by Silentes in three very special editions - a black vinyl edition of 222 copies, a clear vinyl edition of 111 copies - both with printed cover and inner sleeve, with a special transparent obi - and a six-panel digipack CD edition - this one is as highly recommended as they come.