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Monday, December 27, 2021

Diaphane - Paris (Neither Nor, 2021) ****½

By Stef Gijssels

Italian percussionist Carlo Costa has managed to create his own musical space within the free improv environment, using a pointillistic angle of attack, with simple sounds creating dramatic and intense landscapes. Bands like "Natura Morta" (Natura Morta, 2012, Decay, 2014, Environ, 2017) and "Earth Tongues" (Rune, 2015, Ohio, 2016, Atem, 2019), Carlo Costa's Acustica (Strata, 2015), Carlo Costa Quartet (Sediment, 2014) all have the same approach. Even if built up of unusual acoustic sounds coming from regular instruments, the music evolves in a linear way, developing its own narrative and logic, creating an intense atmosphere in the process. The performance is restrained as in minimalist music, but it's far too agitated and often too dense to be called minimalist, and it has the freedom of free improvisation without the nervousness or extravertedness that often qualifies the subgenre. The real distinguishing factor is the attention to a coherent total sound, with narratives constructed with sonic bits, instead of various instruments playing in an ensemble. 

Carlo Costa also released solo percussion albums such as "Oblio" (2018), followed by this year's "Silos". 

Other artists active on the label are Frantz Loriot, Sean Ali and Flin Van Hemmen, whose albums were also reviewed on our blog. 

Diaphane is a new ensemble with Frantz Loriot (France/Japan) on viola, Raphael Loher (Switzerland) on piano, Carl Ludwig Hübsch (Germany) on tuba and Carlo Costa (Italy) on percussion. From the start they take the listener on a fascinating 36 minute journey of musical surprises. Regardless of the instruments used, all sounds are fresh, unexpected, and - like often in Costa's music - they have an organic or natural quality. Loriot and Costa have performed and recorded often before, and the match with the two other musicians is perfect. Carl Ludwig Hübsch's tuba is not only a fantastic addition to the ensemble, but his view on the flow and continuity of the development of musical narratives is really close to what the label has produced so far. Raphael Loher we did not know, and his piano work is a real discovery. 

"Diaphane" is a French word that means something like "translucent", meaning that light can shine through a window without being able to identify the objects behind the window. In English "diaphanous" means "characterized by extreme delicacy of form" (Webster's). Both are adequate to describe the music, even if not everything is fragile. 

The performance was recorded live at the Café de Paris, in France on November 23, 2019. 

This is another winner in the label's catalogue. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp