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Osvaldo Coluccino: Oltreorme

John Eyles By

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Osvaldo Coluccino's debut album on Another Timbre, Atto, was one of 2012's more pleasant surprises. Despite Coluccino's history of composing for conventional instruments—his release immediately preceding Atto was String Quartets (NEOS, 2012)—for the composition featured on Atto he opted to only employ (unspecified) acoustic objects which he struck, rubbed or blew into. Using no electronic manipulation, the end result was an intriguing overlap of ambient, electro-acoustic improvisation and modern composition in which it was impossible to identify the sources of most of the sounds.

Now, for Oltreorme (appropriately, the title is an invented word meaning "beyond traces") Coluccino reprises the winning formula which gave rise to Atto; recorded between August and December 2012, Oltreorme's fifty-three minutes consist of four tracks which fit seamlessly together as one piece without any difficult transitions, making it very easy to listen to and enjoy at a single sitting. In his sleeve notes for the album, Coluccino is very specific about how it should be played: "Listen to this work at normal (low-mid) volume i.e. almost imperceptible, impalpable, elusive and whispered....Hear this work only when there is absolute silence around."

Unfortunately—particularly for those of us who are city dwellers—beyond those instructions Coluccino gives no hints about where we can expect to find absolute silence! Even listening on headphones, enough external noise leaks in to rival the volume of the music on the album. As Oltreorme opens with sounds—white noise, rustlings, crackles—at volume levels low enough to be compatible with ambient city sounds, it really does not need to be heard in isolation. At its quietest, it complements the sounds of the city (or modern life, elsewhere) and is complemented by them, the two achieving a happy symbiosis.

Despite his use of non-instrumental sounds here, Coluccino demonstrates a composer's ear for the ingredients that combine to make dramatic listening—contrasts of volume, texture and duration, periods of stability or repetition are offset by occasional surprise elements thrown in (but no great shocks). Altogether, Oltreorme is as successful as Atto and the two together form a well-matched pair. There can be no higher recommendation than that.

Track Listing: Oltreorme 1; Oltreorme 2; Oltreorme 3; Oltreorme 4.

Personnel: Osvaldo Coluccino: acoustic objects.

Title: Oltreorme | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Another Timbre

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