Regardless of which geographic region or country they reside, improvising artists continue to push the envelop of originality and musicality by exploring the endless possibilities of sound reproduction. The Italian electronically infused quartet I/O is on just that sort of mission. Drummer Paolo Benzoni ignites the staccato music with abrupt thrusts while guitarist Luca Mauri plays with similar disconnected phraseology. Paolo Romano handles the jarring bass work, and Andrea Reali contributes throaty voice utterances as a fourth instrument of this most adventurous group.
The quartet sails on a sea of cacophony. The music is spontaneous and contains no overdubbing. I/O experimented over several months with live electronics, yielding a series of seven songs that combine broken lines with a minimal amount of sustained flow. Each member gets the maximum amount of production from the sound of the moment. Groups on notes are articulated by Mauri on guitar, Reali picks up on the concept and transforms it into voice improvisations, and Benzoni and Romano set up a droning, repetitive arrhythmic front to sustain the hypnotic pulse.
While reoccurring phrases are stock in trade for I/O, the band encounters endless possibilities along the strange avenues it chooses to trespass. Mauri makes his guitar sing out with reiterative sequences designed to put one in a trance-like state. The spell casting works its magic on Reali, who produces guttural groans or high-pitched squeaks in conformity with the whir of buzzing that abounds.
Stress on the beat also pervades this music. For example, “IOBISB” uses a four-beat backdrop where one note of the series is heavily emphasized by Mauri on a rotating basis. On “IOBIS2,” Romano takes a similar approach with arco injections that build in intensity but continue the original sequence at magnified tempo.
Benzoni splatters this unusual soundscape with cymbal crashes and interrupted strokes in keeping with the band’s philosophy. Each selection takes a different disjointed stance but promotes a consistently crisp motif. The result is a recording of unique tonality highlighting the efforts of one group in search for newness. This music will grow on you but only after sustained exposure.
The first record I bought was Miles Smiles. Having been a drummer since age two, hearing a young Tony Williams opened up so many possibilities for a 14 year old church drummer. My life changed that day and I've never looked back!