Reviews by Massimo Ricci

The A23H chronicle


7K OAKS - Entelechy

The music on Entelechy was recorded in 2008 at the Open Circuit-Interact Festival in Hasselt, Belgium. That it remained unreleased for three years, regardless of its vibrant energy and out-and-out extraordinariness, tells a lot about what the masses seem to prefer and/or demand in the view of a contemporary label. Better late than never, the CD has finally been issued and those who manage to grab it are going to be delighted. The lineup of 7k Oaks is exactly the same of the first, and equally special debut album: Alfred 23 Harth (tenor sax, bass clarinet, pocket trumpet and electronics), Luca Venitucci (keyboards), Massimo Pupillo (bass) and Fabrizio Spera (drums).
“Seon Avalanche” starts the group’s powerful engine with an assault that might cause someone to secretly wonder “who needs Last Exit?”. A seriously charged “welcome-to-hell” improvisation where communal guts are exalted despite the possibility of watching the single elements at work, as in a continuous shift between a collective camera shot and a series of close ups. Harth manages to extract bits of minimal melody and the occasional howl from the tenor, fusing those visions with the incinerating crunch generated by Pupillo’s viciously overdriven bass and Spera’s now-funky-now-rambling percussive virulence. Venitucci makes himself noticed via irregular stabs of organ-ic dissonance and abrupt intrusions of ungracious arpeggios.
Harth’s trumpet is a galvanizing listen whenever he utilizes it during the performance. However, it is the clarinet that defines – in a somewhat chimpanzee-like attempt of communicating primary impulses – the beginning of “Soziale Plastik”, a piece defined by a looping electronic figure upon which Pupillo’s string and pick-up tampering and Spera’s rubbing and bowing of his set construct a whole castle of uncertainty. Silence almost falls at one point, yet we’re as distant from Wandelweiser modishness as a prosperous porn star is from the hundreds of bulimic models seen walking expressionlessly in Dolce & Gabbana’s parades of human poultry.
“Labor Anti-Brouillard” begins with an electro-trance substratum, soon accompanied by a rather absurd Latin drum pattern which, incredibly, is perfectly functional for the scope. Buzz, hum and iridescent pulse maintain a firm clutch, Harth’s reticent muttering and hiss-and-kiss activities interspersed with droplets of shining light by Venitucci, whose electric timbre is also peculiar and totally effective in its naked minimalism at that precise juncture. The growth in the tension level is palpable: fixed pitches increasing suspense, Pupillo’s macho-ism moving things quite a bit in the low frequency region. However – contrarily to what one could have expected – the quartet does not push the listener back to the initial mayhem, preferring instead to baptize a new version of Chic (and Cassiber)’s classic “At Last I’m Free”, introduced by the most contemplative, quasi-EAI solo by A23H that I’ve heard in a while. Spera , Pupillo and Venitucci flow in with a mix of dissonant piano, metallic harmonics and all-inclusive rumble, turning the atmosphere into avant-noir at the flick of a switch. It remains sort of suspended – the final surge notwithstanding – and leaves us wanting more, a trait which is typical of great records and bands. Both Entelechy and 7k Oaks are unquestionably definable as such, and we need additional recordings of the latter’s blazing interplay to get excited with. Possibly without waiting for so long.

in Touching Extremes