*200 copies limited edition, black vinyl* From its very beginnings, avant-garde and experimental music has been in locked step with the march of technology, with new technologies inspiring innovations in sound and composing, and the demands of artists inspiring the development of new technologies or uses for older technologies, ranging from Conlon Nancarrow's maximization of the player piano, David Behrman and Don Buchla’s electronic inventions, Carl Stone’s entire career, and Roland Kayn’s generative computer music, to more recent efforts like Maxime Denuc’s “Nachthorn” (for midi-controlled organ), Ben Vida and Lea Bertucci's “Murmurations”, and Ragnhild May & Kristoffer Raasted’s “Institutional Critique for Kindergarden”.
The fledgling label Helical’s debut LP, Leonardo Barbadoro’s “Musica Automata”, takes a creatively rich dive further down this path, exploring the boundless expressive possibilities of electronics and robotics implemented by an acoustic instrumentation. Truly engrossing and intoxicating from its first sounding to its last, representing a significant leap in Barbadoro’s work, this stunning album is issued in two very limited editions on vinyl - respectively 200 black copies and 100, hand-numbered, on coloured wax - as well as on CD, and can’t be missed.
The Italian composer, Leonardo Barbadoro, has occupied a fascinating place at the margins of underground music for a number of years, primarily working under the Koolmorf Widesen moniker, producing singular compositions at the unexpected juncture of IDM, acid, jungle, electroacoustic and experimental music. “Musica Automata” is the first LP issued under his given given name and represents a striking departure from his previously known works, inquiring after the expressive possibilities of electronics implemented by an acoustic instrumental body in a sensory reality. To realise the imaginings of this compositional and instrumental research - and subsequently the creation of the fittingly titled “Musica Automata” - Barbadoro turned to the Logos association based in Gent, the world’s largest orchestra of automated, robotic instruments - percussion, woodwind, brass, organ, and numerous unconventional instruments - that are controlled by digital impulses.
As he worked, Barbadoro found the Logos association’s robotic orchestra, with it’s innumerable parameters - incorporating note control, dynamics, sound envelope, microtonal control and a great deal more - to be liberating, instigating the composition of what became “Musica Automata”'s twelve pieces.
Viewed as a totality, “Musica Automata” uses technology to undermine the notion of instrumental virtuosity or strict notions of genre and category, utilising timbral approaches and narrative elements drawn from avant-garde and experimental music, while also favoring harmony and rhythm over the conceptual and experimental. While entirely composed via electronic means with the robots effectively triggered by Barbadoro’s parameters, to further blur the boundaries he added no further processing of effect, allowing the final result to be entirely acoustic, incorporating everything in real time, including the reverberations and movements of the instruments and their environment into the final result.
Perhaps most similar to Conlon Nancarrow's player piano pieces and Maxime Denuc’s techno works for midi-controlled organ, the sounds that unfold across the length of “Musica Automata” culminate as a music that could never have been fully conceived outside of technological means, forced into the acoustic realm. This dynamic alone, makes each of the album’s pieces engrossing, with its rhythmic and tonal elements imbued with a sense of human touch by the nature of the instrumentation, while often feeling beyond the realms of possibility. Deeply rooted in their structural make up to Barbadoro’s long history with IDM, these pieces reframe rhythmically driven electronic music within the modern classical realm, providing a joyous listen that challenges everything we think we know about each.
Pushing experimental music in fascinatingly uncharted realms and upending how we tend to aesthetically frame within genre, Leonardo Barbadoro’s “Musica Automata” is issued by Helical in two very limited editions on vinyl - respectively 200 black copies and 100, hand-numbered, on coloured wax - as well as on CD. Huge tip and not to be missed!
All tracks composed, recorded and mixed by Leonardo Barbadoro from
2014 to 2019 at Logos Tetrahedron Hall (Ghent)
Artwork - Lorenzo Arioni
Photography - Luca Nicolao
Musica Automata logo - Cesare Bignotti
Mastered - Niccolò Caldini
Published - Helical Records