Review: Giovanni Lami – Raw (Cloudchamber Recordings, Jul 15)

With his uniquely total approach to reel-to-reel manipulation—the sounds of the manual actions themselves are presented alongside the dark, spectral sonic manifestations of his tape abstractions—sound artist Giovanni Lami has accomplished something very special: he has created an entirely singular musical language. I first saw this on 2016’s Bias, an all-time personal favorite that I’m pretty sure I bring up every time I review Lami’s work, where decayed tape extracts form the basis for a series of indescribable sound environments shrouded in shadow. The opening track of Raw, the Italian artist’s most recent release, recalls this distinctive palette used to create Bias; “XXXXXX,” and later “180807,” outline a fragile structure of distant, cavernous yawns surrounded by muffled clatter and stifled scratching. But though this is the longest track on the album, the remaining pieces aren’t constrained by that nocturnal atmosphere. “180824” is a much more neutral fragment and brings the disorienting sounds of reel speed finagling to the forefront of the mix, introducing an invasive tactility that carries over into “160506.” With In Chiaro / In Guardia last year, Sinalefe in February, and now this (not to mention the Hysteresis series) it boggles my mind how well Lami makes use of compact album durations. Raw is an unexpectedly colorful release despite its short length, spanning the staggering range of sonorities and headspaces that Lami is able to hop in and out of with aplomb.

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