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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Cupis - ànemos (Objet-A, 2023)

By Stef Gijssels

Every few years, the duo of electroacoustic composer Giovanni Verga and saxophonist Gianni Gebbia reconvene to create a new work under their name "Cupis". This is their fourth album - if we do not count the 'Cupis Remixes' from 2021 - after “Logismoi” (2018), “Avoiding the Sun”(2015), and “Prelogical Institutions” (2013). 

We've mentioned our appreciation for Gebbia's music before, especially for his very idiosyncratic sound, the quiet resolve and spiritual depth of his sonic universe, that borrows deeply from European classical and folk music to create his own quiet and gentle modern soundscapes, defying genres and expectations. 

Giovanni Verga lives and works in Berlin, but hails from Palermo, Sicily. He is a composer of electroacoustic and acousmatic music active in the fields of music, theatre and performance.
After obtaining his master's degree in Italy, he moved to Berlin where he studied at HFM Hans Eisler completing a Master of Electroacoustic Music.

The result of their collaboration is a wonderful listening experience. Verga's sinewave drones create a long and stretched sonic horizon over which Gebbia's 'soprano mutant ophicleide saxophone' soars, weeps and sings, resonating with strong reverb in a broad open space. The duo's musical aesthetic is extremely powerful: even if deeply emotional, it stays far away from any cheap sentimentalism, and at the same distance from 'new-agey' spiritualism. 

The album consists of two tracks, each around 18 minutes long. The first seems led by the saxophone, that arises almost organically out of a more basic voiceless primal sound of air blowing through a tube, a possible reference to the album's title 'Anemos' is the Greek word for 'wind', evolving into a stretched more human howling sound. The sinewaves increase in volume and the horn gradually strengthens and consolidates its initial hesitant existence. There are images of wideness, of spaciousness, desolation and silence. 

The second piece takes the sound even further, building on the first track. The space of the music contrasts with its introspective power, as if you're alone in the universe contemplating infinity. I wrongly assumed that some parts of the music were not improvised and that post-production added layers afterwards, yet I receive the confirmation that the entire album is improvised in real time, which makes the discipline, the incredible balance and pace even more exceptional, resulting in a calm intensity from beginning to end. 


Listen and download from Bandcamp.