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Saturday, March 5, 2022

Osvaldo Coluccino - Absum (Inexhaustible Editions, 2021) ***½

By Ron Coulter

Absum is the March 1, 2021 release from Italian composer and poet, Osvaldo Coluccino . The album was recorded in 1999 with Coluccino utilizing electronics, violin, and “objects.”

This is composed electronic and electroacoustic music of low volumes and copious use of reverb and panning. Although, tracks four and five, “Absum IV (for blown objects and processing)” and “Absum V (for two violins and magnetic tape)” use acoustic source material as described in their titles. The treatment of the acoustic material is such that it is not always recognizable as acoustic in origin; it is most often processed and blended homogenously with electronic sounds.

This is subtle and detailed atmospheric music; some might even categorize it as ambient. Because of the low volumes, particular timbres, and use of panning as a significant compositional element, it is best enjoyed through headphones.

The album grows in complexity from “Absum I” to “Absum VI”. The first three tracks are barely audible, low-frequency fog-like textures emerging from, and evaporating into, silences; sounding like field recordings from a dystopian, digital future. Tracks four and five continue this ambience but at higher frequencies and more noticeable activity, or development, thanks in large part to the introduction of the acoustic material. The final track continues the Absum qualities of “not being there, being absent, being distant, being far away, being alien” but with a more tangible quality in the more complex timbres and the greater variety in activity/development.

This album is unusually organic and austere for composed electronic and electroacoustic music, where often there can be a focus on the technology, a twisting of the knobs, if you will, absent of a fully formed aesthetic. Here there is a concise sound world with an intense focus, requiring a similar attention from the listener. This isn’t driving music, or casual background music, this is listening music that requires effort to extract its abstract beauty.