Review: kNN – Alta Moda Animale (Pseudomagica, Mar 28)

Although Italian composer and sound enthusiast Renato Grieco has an impressive resume in the world of contemporary sound art—his musical and artistic ventures include Double Goocher Shop, whose self-titled tape on Regional Bears was one of my favorite releases last year; countless collaborations with improvisers and electroacoustic musicians such as Giovanni Lami, Valerio Tricoli, Olivier di Placido, and Elio Martusciello; and the founding of the Phonurgia association with fellow artists SEC_, Giulio Nocera, and Andrea Bolognino—his solo offerings are surprisingly few and far between. Other than a short cassette on Falt last year, Alta Moda Animale is Grieco’s only studio release on which he is the sole composer. And considering how amazing it is, I hope it will be the portent of many more. The word that primarily comes to mind across the seven adventurous pieces is “deconstructive”; Grieco breaks down recordings of anything from musical performances, in which he plays double bass with several other musicians, to abstract electronic cut-ups and mysterious vocal samples both organic and synthesized. My favorite moment has to be the end of “Matta Nettipattam,” where a robotic text-to-speech voice mechanically imitates a drum beat with disjointed utterances of “kick… snare… snare… kick snare…” The ceaselessly eclectic LP recalls the surreal machinations of classic musique concrète, the indiscriminate dada collages of LAFMS heavyweights like Le Forte Four and Joseph Hammer, and a host of other notable influences, but ultimately Grieco carves out a niche that is all his own, finding unmatched beauty in the disorientingly disparate.

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