I have spent the last couple of weeks on and off getting my head around this album. Maybe what threw me was the difference in sound to what I would sort of expect from n5MD (whose 2019 roster of Bvdub, Ex Confusion, Proem, OKADA, Zahn | Hatami| Mcclure, Suumhow and the forthcoming Hollie Kenniff release all sound different). Or possibly I was trying to narrow down what sort of style the music from the album is. The album was preceded by the single “Ma” which highlights just a fragment of what the album entails.
“Attraverso is the debut album of new ambient trio PCM. The band consists of Francesco Perra (P) who also records solo as Perry Frank, Pop producer and symphonic ambient composer Matteo Cantaluppi (C), and sound designer/engineer and PCM creative director Matteo Milea (M). The album was conceived after a brief studio session exposed that each member brought something unique to their collaborative take on ambient’s many sub-genres. Attraverso, in concept, is meant to mimic four long-form journeys through human inner consciousness utilizing an amalgam of drone, modern composition, guitar ambient, and Koyaanisqatsi-eque arpeggiated kosmische musik. Each track title is the word “Attraverso” with three of the four being represented in different languages.”
It’s interesting in looking into the background of the three members. Francesco Perra is a prolific Ambient arrist under his Perry Frank pseudonym, Matteo Cantaluppi is noted for his pop production background as well as am Ambient musician, while Matteo Milea is a sound designer responsible for the visual aspects of the trio. After having a brief listen to some of the back catalog of both Perra and Cantaluppi, you can see where the pieces on this album get their feel from. The music of the four pieces on “Attraverso” : “Attraverso” “Atraves”, “Durch” and “Par” (all translate to either “Through” or “By”) exist in the darker realms of Ambient music without ever dwelling too long in Dark Ambient territory. The feeling of something that is Post Industrial, equally rooted in music of the past and present, symphonic in places and with a feeling of searching out and discovering new terrain. The music slowly unfolds allowing the trio to emphasise their sound components and to build monolithic pieces such as the title track and opener which has a swell of sound that is built upon layers of textural components which feel as if, for instance the more noisier, stormy qualities were removed, would result in a totally different sounding piece. The scattershot electronics add to the uneasy feeling that permeates the track and, as the title of all the pieces is felt, the trio are taking you “through” an aural environment which is sometimes unsettling as it is mysterious.
An aura of intensity and mystery will continue with “Durch”, but first ” Atraves” which provides the listener with some minimal synth pads and (light) stormy ambience. Pace wise everything is intact, but the feeling of this is the musical equivalent to a picture or a real life setting, where there is a sense of loneliness and introspection. The synth sounds and ambience have an edge to them that is cold and somewhat traumatic, while the occasional field recordings hint at isolation. Almost getting their capes on , the track veers ever so slightly towards a more proggy synth ambience and while I am unsure of guitar work being there, there is a motif that reminds you of 70’s guitar based ambient. The track is rather consistent in feel through out until the final two minutes were it becomes a cascading collection of sounds and synth textures that remind me of the previous track and hint as to where “Durch” takes us.
As mentioned above “Durch” takes us back into intensity with a rapid fire synth loop opening that builds incrementally with this granular sound that eventually explodes through a slight IDM territory that label mates Suumhow could have come up with. As PCM reach the two minute mark the ever building sound begins to threaten to flow. The synth throbs come close to over flowing, guitar rings out, squelchy electronics bubble underneath as well as a multitude of other sounds like drones, percussive sounds, so as by the half way point of the track we are close to the eye of the storm. The noticeable thing for me is the construction. It would be quite easy for the track to fall over under the weight if all its parts, but instead there is this constant puling apart and pushing together motion which allows for the piece to build and retreat, but always exist on or close to the edge of falling over.
With “Par” I would initially have thought it might have followed a style similar to “Atraves” in the case of the trio varying the intense tracks with the more laid back ones and in ways I was right and wrong. The opening features swathes of synth ambience, gritty guitar lines and a bass like throb or electronics, but unlike “Atraves” there is still an underlying feeling of detritus and dread. PCM don’t do sweet and happy ambience, the pieces on this album are almost like a soundtrack to an abyss or you could imagine them being used in a documentary about underwater cave explorers as the music has this sort of exploratory feel as if you don’t know what’s behind every corner and also gives you the feeling that it might not be all good as well.
Acccording to the press release “The concept behind Attraverso is that is meant to mimic four long-form journeys through human inner consciousness. The trio utilizes an amalgam of drone, modern composition, guitar ambient, and Koyaanisqatsi-eque arpeggiated kosmische musik in their sonic excursions.” If this is the case then it changes everything you think about the music as when you apply it to discovering or exploring mysterious territory it makes sense. But when you apply it to things like Human Consciousness it adds an extra layer of unease to the pieces which makes you question exactly what type of consciousness feels this way. “Attraverso” is available on limited clear vinyl (250 copies), gatefold CD and Digital.