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Boccardi/Mongardi/Bertoni, "Litio"

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cover imageThe three artists that make up this trio:  electronics expert Alberto Boccardi, drummer/percussionist Paolo Mongardi, and double bass player Antonio Bertoni have performed alongside renowned artists such as Bill Laswell, Eraldo Bernocchi, Mika Vaino, and many others, but Litio is the first release that brings them together.  That is not at all apparent, since the band’s work on this record is that of a well oiled machine, drawing from industrial, krautrock, and the avant garde, among other elements, resulting in a gripping, dark piece of taut rhythmic music.

Boring Machines

The trio waste no time establishing their sound on this record.  Immediately, "Vento Solare" is a quiet passage of electronics, soon met with forceful, but erratic drumming and cymbal work.  With its rhythm section locked in (Bertoni’s double bass playing sounds nothing like the jazz inflections I expected), Boccardi's synthesizers are weaved in.  His electronic work is somewhat conventional at this point, with the more traditional styled playing fitting in well with the harsher rhythmic backing.  The drama builds and the piece transitions into more sinister spaces, with the focus shifted to percussion pounding through the echoing dungeon ambience.

The following "Chimera" is structurally similar, but overall less intense in sound.  Mongardi immediately leads things off with a big, galloping drum passage that is augmented by the driving double bass sound.  The rhythm is taut, but varies and makes for an overall dynamic piece of music.  Throughout, electronic melodies make their appearances here and there, but for the most part they are intentionally secondary to the driving rhythms, and the piece ends the first side of the record on a comparably lighter note.

On the other side, "Red Stone Floating" is another instant piece of musical intensity.  While not overly bleak or dark sounding, it is immediately a blast of sustained electronics and metallic rhythms that is quite forceful.  Electronic melodies are snuck in, underscored by abrasive crackling noises, as the whole mix becomes richer and heavier as the piece keeps going.  By the end it is just a wonderfully heavy rumble as the melody slowly melts away.

The closer, "Reconfigure. Matter_Energy_Space_Time" at first has more of a free improv feel, with the double bass strings first creating some unconventional rhythmic start as the more conventional drumming is blended in as an accompaniment.  The structure is free flowing and diverse, but the whole time generating a strong sense of tension that just builds and builds until it eventually relents a bit in the closing moments.

On the whole, Litio is a heavily percussive album that really showcases the rhythm section of Paolo Mongardi and Antonio Bertoni.  It is within these strong, occasionally oppressive rhythms that the more subtle work of Alberto Boccardi really shines:  his electronics range from suitably dissonant noise treatments to strong, warm melodic passages that offset the driving beats extremely well.  Bleak without being dull, and intense without being overwhelming, the album comes together as greater than the sum of its parts, staying fresh and captivating from beginning to end.

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