Luigi Archetti / Bo Wiget - "Low Tide Digitals" (2001, Rune Grammofon RG 2019, distributed by ECM Records)
Luigi Archetti / Jan Schlegel - "Silent Surface" (2003, Unit Records UTR 4138)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: January 2004
Two precious treasures are to be introduced that should appeal to Aural Innovations readers with an interest in improvisational as well as electronic music. Both CDs stand for some of the latest developments in the genre of improvisation duos which they partly extend. Though filed under Jazz at times and reviewed in Jazz magazines, in both cases you rather not receive what you might expect as contemporary Jazz productions. Both CDs use electronics means as improvisational elements that are known from Ambient and even Techno productions, but you can be sure that this music will not appeal to Ambient and Techno listners. If you might think that you know the name Luigi Archetti somewhere, yes, he’s the current guitarist with the legendary German Krautrockers Guru Guru, but you won’t hear this on one of these CDs.
Low Tide Digitals features Luigi Archetti on guitar and electronics and Bo Wiget on Cello and electronics, and the eleven tracks on this CD are called track one, track two et cetera until track eleven. Quite "democratically" there are no stand outs and all of them transport the "almost nothing" principle to modern music, minimalism on its highest level. You hear modulated pulses, fragments of ethnic music, ultra deep basses, scratch noises produced with the help of the guitar fretboard, the cello and the guitar as such, clicking electronic percussion, drones, thunder, sound snippets of undefinable origins, and all this in homeopathic doses. But, astonishingly enough, once you get used to these presentations of almost silence, they turn out to be perceived as sonic revelries, a little bit like delicious small dishes in the French nouvelle cuisine or like one drop of water after having been thirsty for a while. Going a bit deeper, we’re dealing with concepts of perception, attitudes and behavior. You need the time to do nothing else then listening to this music. You have to be patient, and may not expect any superficial sensation.
Silent Surface features Luigi Archetti on guitar and Jan Schlegel on bass (and both of them on electronics), and goes even further in this respect. Here the tracks have names, and these are the Latin names of minerals like tagilit, nephelin, milarit, chalkolit et cetera. As a listener you’re completely free to choose your own frame of reference and perception, and this makes listening to music a completely new experience. Like a baby you hear new sounds and noises from the world around you for the very first time and will like to file them into your very own sonic library, being uncertain whether they might rather belong here or there or somewhere else. And this again will radically challenge your perceptive habits and put them to a test. Some of the tunes sound like laboratory like constructions, others play with seducing sonic surfaces, and even more literally than in Low Tide Digitals what you hear on this CD is set into a relationship with silence. If you happen to listen to this record on a CD player with a level meter you will notice that in some tunes signals are indicated on the meter when you simply hear nothing as these "sounds" are not perceptible for human beings. With this record the term "music that challenges your senses" gets a completely new meaning.
Both CDs are clearly not designed for everybody’s pleasure and entertainment. But who are the "experts" for whom they are made? This may actually be everybody, any person who has preserved his or her childlike curiosity and is willing to make lots of new sonic experiences. If you’re willing to do so, the order of the CDs in this review is recommended as the order of listening. Regarded as rather marginal within the Jazz scene and not standing in the centre of the contemporary (semi-) electronic music you should not think in limited musical categories before you put on either of them. Clear your mind from any musical prejudices first, then listen.
For more information you can visit Luigi Archetti’s website at: http://www.luigiarchetti.com.
Reviewed by Frank Gingeleit