Review: Melting Mind – Melted Mind (self-released, Apr 21)

a2841316764_10It’s impossible not to fall in love with the music of Italian reeds maestro Virginia Genta once one listens to The Live in Lisbon, a perfectly lo-fi recording of a 2008 performance with drummer Chris Corsano that’s nothing short of magical. It’s one of very few releases under Genta’s own name (her eponymous discography comprises a small handful of ensemble live LPs and a smattering of solo 7″s), but she certainly stays busy with other projects, which include the many iterations of the Jooklo collective, YADER, and Melting Mind. The latter, an ongoing, loosely structured collaboration with an array of electronics tinkerers, namely Michele Mazzani, is among the most abstract material from Genta in which she still utilizes her trusty supply of winds. The group’s latest offering, the partly self-titled Melted Mind, is an enthralling, difficult chunk of dusty atmospherics that keeps the listener at an arm-and-a-half’s length. All of the tracks besides “Frenzy Partner” were conjured by the core duo of Genta and Mazzani, the former switching between tenor and soprano sax and the latter contributing real-time synthesis as well as post-production processing. Anyone who listens to even a few seconds of the tape would hardly be surprised to learn that the Genta/Mazzani pieces were recorded in a barn; it’s not just the swathing analog hiss or appealing scruffiness of the recording itself that evokes a sense of confined removal or isolation, but also the music itself, which more often tends toward patient, brooding drones and atonal squawks and squeals rather than conventional jazz improvisation (with the exception of “SITB Pt. II,” a well-placed smattering of gestural scalar runs). With the lengthy “Bellatrix” Mazzani gradually begins to assert his presence, and the murky, garbled ephemera that begins “Through the Rusty Gates” and the B side—presumably created via on-site synth sludging, after-the-fact assemblage, or some combination of both—sounds like something right out of a Michael Barthel tape. Even with the added complexity of three additional musicians and a new recording location on “Frenzy Partner,” Melted Mind never abandons its refreshing, sublime removal; it’s a deep, buried hibernation both comforting and cloying.

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