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Saturday, August 21, 2021

Lucio Capece & Ben Vida - Umwelt (Bocian, 2020) ****½

By Ron Coulter

Umwelt” is a 2020 release by the Argentinian performer/composer, Lucio Capece (currently based in Berlin) and New York-based performer/composer, Ben Vida.

'Umwelt' is a German word meaning 'environment' and it has use in semiotics, ethology, and psychology, generalized as the relationship or perception of an individual to the world.

The album consists of four tracks totaling just over 38 minutes and it was recorded over a period of five years from 2016 to 2020 in Brussels, Berlin, and New York. Capece contributes bass clarinet, slide saxophone, cardboard tubes, analog synthesiser and filter, while Vida provides synthesis, sampling, and digital arranging.

This is music of gorgeous, rich textures built with delicate sounds. Development is slow-moving and careful, drawing the listener inside the sound world of each track, and the album as a whole, where they can get lost and lose their sense of time. The welcome use of repetition in many of the tracks is a key factor in this entrancing music.

Track one, “Umwelten” is built around a slippery microtonal melodic loop, accentuated with key clicks, breath sounds, and waves of long tones weaving in and around. The track has an acoustic sounding quality while the following track, “The Three Graces” has a noisier electronic quality, with glissandi (sliding pitches) being a focal point.

The final two tracks share the same title, “Asmodea”, and similar durations of 9:18 and 9:39 but are quite different in their sonic character. “Asmodea”, track three, presents a brittle, rhythmic, digital soundscape that still retains a richness of character. The second “Asmodea” is slow microtonal waves of sound that remind the listener of the opening track, “Umwelten” and give the album a circular, rather than linear quality.

Overall, the timbral and textural environment this duo creates has homogeneity and depth. What is acoustic and what is electronic is not always clear, with the two blending in a natural and nearly indiscernible way. This is one of those albums to put on repeat for hours. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp.


Gary Chapin said...

I've been enjoying this one, too, and I think you captured the reasons why pretty well. What I find is that I've reached a stage where I think of every piece of music I listen to that's not for dancing to try to discern the story that it evokes. (And maybe that's true for dancing, too.) "Umwelt" is a great name for this as it evokes weltabshauung.

Richard said...

Never heard of either artist, but I'm liking this on first listen. There's something wrong with the link you provided. Here's the correct one.

Steve said...

Your link to bandcamp actually goes to another site.

Stef said...

Thanks for notifying about the bad link: it's rectified in the meantime.