* Edition of 200 * In what might appear to be a paradox of logic, much of the history of avant-garde music - from Eric Satie, John Cage, and Morton Feldman, through the minimalists, post-minimalists, and beyond - has presented new forms radicalism through remarkable, self-imposed constraint. Sometimes structural, others tonal, temporal, or a combination of any of the three, these limitations and focus not only place demands of focus and attentiveness on the listeners, drawing the ear toward subtle and nuanced shifts, but equally have proven to open new doors in the possibilities of sonorous interaction. Since their founding in 2011, the Florence-based ensemble, Blutwurst, has dedicated themselves to this territory of creative expression, focusing their research on the acoustic exploration of sustained tones and slowly transformed patterns of sound. Their 4th full length release, Anabasi, issued on vinyl in a very limited edition of 200 by Kohlhaas, takes us deep into the realm of drone, imbuing it with a richness and depth that is a wonder to behold.
Founded by Marco Baldini, Edoardo Ricci, and Daniela Fantechi, before expanding its membership and sonorous pallet with the addition of Michele Lanzini, Cristina Abati, Maurizio Costantini, and Luisa Santacesaria in 2012, Blutwurst is a collective of musicians involved in radical improvisation and contemporary classical music. In their initial stages the group was deeply dedicated to live improvisation and implementation of open and graphic scores by composers such as John Cage, Christian Wolff, Morton Feldman, Cornelius Cardew, Alvin Lucier and La Monte Young, before, in 2013, shifting toward developing its own compositions and collaborations with other composers, some of the products of have been documented by the three noteworthy releases that proceed Anabasi; Tenebrae (Tempo Reale Collection, 2016), Yoğurt (Negative Days, 2016), and their recent collaboration with French composer Emmanuel Holterbach, Ricercar nell'ombra, released in early this year by Another Timbre.
Taking its title for the Greek term, referring to an expedition carried out from the coast into an interior territory, Anabasi sculpts a deep and imaginative sonorous path, divided in two long takes: the title track – which is itself split in two parts – for acoustic instruments (harmonium, accordion, piano, viola, cello, double bass, trumpet and bass clarinet), sine waves and tapes; and Parva Lumina, for pipe organ and electronics, which is dedicated to Fluxus artist and composer Giuseppe Chiari, and recorded on a 19th Century Tronci organ in the church of San Giusto a Ema, Florence.
A stunning rethinking of minimal durational music, across both sides Anabasi slowly evolving long tones and rich timbres immerse the listener in collectively assembled blanket drone, increasingly drawing the ear into recognition of the monumentality hidden amongst the incidental and discrete. Undeniably rigorous and challenging, while beautiful and incredibly listenable, the album encounters Blutwurst as one of the true forces in pushing drone music into new worlds. If you haven’t heard them before, there’s now better place to start. Kohlhaas has only pressed in 200 copies on black vinyl, featuring the visual concept by Matteo Castro and liner notes by Emmanuel Holterbach, so grab it fast before it’s gone.