“Chiodi” (Italian for nails) is the third album of Italian improvising duo of Francesco Covarino and Alessandro Incorvaia following from “Granada” (Whitelabrec) and “Perugia” (UK label Preserved Sound, which is the same label as is “Chiodi”). The album once more is a guitar and drums improv duo. However, this time they set about creating an album with small predetermined ideas.
“The only idea we discussed before starting the recording was to play less notes and leave more space, and to play quietly in order to let all those unpredictable room sounds come out – the click of Alessandro’s foot pushing on a pedal, the drum stool creaking,” says Francesco Covarino (drums). “The sound engineer put a couple of microphones in the room below the studio we were playing in and left the door open, looking for some extra reverb,” says Alessandro Incorvaia (guitar). “But these microphones ended up recording all the noises on the street outside – a rooster, a dog, a car passing by. We loved it all and kept it on the final mix. All the noises you can hear were recorded live, not field recordings that were added later.”
“I” usually you get a variation on themes when it comes to improv music that I have been exposed to it. There can usually, due to a limit in time, a “finding your feet” stage which involves testing the waters with texture, tone and sound, followed by a “kitchen sink ” stage where everything is thrown in to create this maelstrom of sound. The noticeable thing about this track, other than the post rock-ish sounding guitar, is how the duo, alongside recorder José Alberto Chamorro, how the duo have let space and natural sound be an important contributor to the track. The release being mastered by Taylor Deupree expands on this to give a depth of sound and a multi dimensional feel to the music. It is more than the sum of its parts and is rather ambient in its nature due to the rawness of the recording. A note should be mentioned of the pace which helps reveal the qualities of the instrumentation.
“II” sounding more like a collection of field recordings than the random snatches of percussive sound, the opening is paired with this distant droning guitar sound which alongside the relatively quiet opening, almost sounds like dawn is rising. Over time the track begins to take more of a conventional shape and leans into the territory that the Dirty Three side project of Mick Turner and Jim White aka Tren Brothers takes, with the meandering post rock meets folk meets near country tones. On this track Covarino becomes more expressive in his playing than the opener (which is merely an observation, rather than criticism) and shows the duo in sync together in a slightly more “rock” setting.
“XI” the shortest track on the release at just under 7 minutes in length (“I” is over sixteen minutes and “II” over 14 minutes) sounds like a piece of religious infused music with the church organ like sound which comes from Covarino’s glockenspiel paired with a collection of gritty percussive elements and phasing ambient drones of guitar. There is a sense of innocence that pervades through the track with chimes intermittently flitting about as the track becomes this swirl of sound as instrumentation is put through loop builds that build a pulsing, but never threatening sound pallet. While the other tracks have utilized space and separation in their tracks, this one is about filling that space with a nice and soothing collection of sounds that float along.
It is easy to have preconceived opinions when it comes to a style of music, I know I can be guilty of forming an idea based on something that I have read. When I read about improv music, I guess I am imagining in a way the similar sound that say, free jazz can come up with, the kitchen sink approach that I mentioned above. Thankfully Covarino/Incorvaia wipe out any such preconceived conceptions and have put out a release that sounds fully formed and realised. Over the case of three albums together, the duo have worked out how to interact perfectly and make their instruments symbiotic to each other. “Chiodi” is a relaxing, enjoyable listen with a rich sound to delve into. “Chiodi” is released on CD/Digital by Preserved Sound on September 28.