“”Aix” is an outstanding piece of work by Italian electro-acoustic savant Giuseppe Ielasi, originally released in 2009 on Taylor Deupree’s 12k label, the follow-up to 2007’s “August” (12k) and Ielasi’s first collaboration with Nicola Ratti as “Bellows”, also out in 2007 (Kning Disk). Originally only released on CD (12k), the album got a very limited vinyl issue on Czech label Minority Records in 2010. Keplar presents this extraordinary and timeless collection of 9 evocative minimalist soundscapes on vinyl again after 10 years.
“With Aix we see Ielasi building his layered, atmospheric music around rhythmic grids. Most of the time these are quite irregular and the pulses are not necessarily stable or clear. Where his previous work approached sound in a linear fashion Aix imposes a strong vertical development with the aforementioned grid and a production consisting of ons and offs, employing as much improvisation as Ielasi’s previous work, but in a different way. Despite the self-imposed grid structure, Aix relies heavily on randomisation. Not in the traditional sense of sound placement but instead of the spatialisation of sounds, echoes, reverbs and the stereo image. As a result, Aix has an amazing sense and clarity of space as the small fragments of sound breathe and find their own place in the mix, thanks to Ielasi’s sublime skills as a mixer and engineer.”
“Aix” is an album I have been familiar with for years purely because of it’s stunning cover. I also have the same experience with Ielasi as an artist, so I come to this re-issue of this album with fresh ears. From the outset I am swept up in sounds that I would not have originally envisioned as the album and it’s history with the 12k label led to me to consider it more experimental and less groove orientated than it is.
Reading some of the press at the time of its original issue in 2009 gives a hint to it’s positioning in Ielasi ‘s career and the important effect it had on his music. Traditionally a guitarist, Ielasi’s experience with working with improv artists led him to start developing his own sounds with an emphasis on more rhythmical pieces. This is shown on “Aix” which has all the experimentalism and rhythmical structure of, say an early Oval release meets Jazz meets sound art and then some. “Aix” is the kind of album that satisfies both your experimental and structured tastes. Sonicly dynamic it never gets too ahead of itself and too cerebral, nor does it not challenge the listener. It finds a nice balance between the extremes of accessibility and non conformance.
The nine “Untitled” tracks (the difference to the original track listing being the change from the titles number 1-9 with them now being divided into two halves of an album A1-4, B1-5) remove any cues from the artist for you to ascribe to the music. This approach certainly allows you to approach it without the idea of seeing if the title matches the pieces themselves. In some ways the pieces on the album are as contemporary as they are snapshot to a time where cut up micro sounds were a more explored terrain. The main identifier with the pieces on this album is you can detect the artists’ stylistic origin by the nature of sounds chosen. As well as the material being melodic there is also this tensile nature to the pieces that sound like they are stretched to breaking point, as heard on A1 and B4.
The noticeable feature of the music is the gathering of influences from various genres such as Jazz, Post Rock and the classic clicks and cuts of the late 90’s. Sometimes with music that has this cut up nature it can feel cold, which is not the case with “Aix”. The material has a well thought out feeling with only “B3” being quite obtuse in it’s sound. While “B2” demonstrates the Jazz element, “B5” has a nice melancholic pastoral like touch, demonstrating a moodiness not heard before on the album and “A1” has this shuffling almost dance like sway to it. The pieces on “Aix” eleven years on still retain a power to impress the current day listener, while sounding also like a snapshot in time.
“Aix” is the second release in the revived Keplar label’s Keplar Rev series of important electronic re-issues, following from Vladislav Delay’s “Multila”. You can by the physical edition here or get the Digital version from 12k.