Andrea Belfi – Wege

Wege is a tactile and elemental record, one that is sensual; not really looking to jump out at you but it’s incredibly charming nonetheless

 

 

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One of those really great records that still needs some explanation – outside of anything I say review – so you can make up your minds. Which we will come to in a minute. What I must say now is don’t be put off by the idea that this is a difficult piece, it’s not. Wege is a tactile and elemental record, one that is sensual; not really looking to jump out at you but it’s incredibly charming nonetheless – a sweeping and broad-backed experiment in sound that is an incredibly beautiful listen if only you allow it to engage on its own terms.

 

Four tracks present a mix of cut up vocals, drum patterns, acoustics and synth modulations that create a very pastoral record. It never feels rather like the accompanying music at an Indonesian street theatre or a Japanese Noh play, its mission is to present lots of sensations and musical hints rather than anything too linear. That’s not to say there isn’t a structure, there is, but one that soundtracks a journey into the unknown rather than a trek on a well-worn path.  Funnily enough, Wege translates as ‘path’ and it does feel like you are mind-mapping some new musical plateau. There are elements of musique concrete too: especially in some of the later passages of A (which also nod towards the hazy abstraction conjured up by, say a beat-less DJ Krush) and the beautiful mesh of viola and electronics on B which have a feel of early T -Dream albeit a very relaxed, “Sturm und Drang”-less T- Dream.  At times B becomes sparse in the extreme; driven solely by a hyperactive cymbal tap. C is a strange and ghostly amalgam of a voice and some crackly noises. The combination of drum brushes, church bells and simple taps and beats in D give the very strong feeling of walking through a frozen landscape. It’s an incredibly sensual piece.

 

So there you have it, a record full of sensations and one that may take a couple of listens but you really need to hear this work.

 

Postscript - the bit that I really can’t describe - the LP’s history so to speak.

 

Wege is culled from what must have been two very inspiring artist-in-residence projects in Austria (Hotel Pupik) and in Brussels (Q-O2 Werkplatz). The album is built around a cyclic electro-acoustic system, influenced in part by Steve Reich’s ‘Pendulum Music’, Wege’s four pieces revolve around spiraling interconnections of synthesizer, feedback and drums. Belfi explains further:

“This device creates feedbacks on two drums on my drum kit, and I can modify it by stopping and stretching the drum skins with hands and various kinds of sticks, mallets and brushes, and/or by filtering the feedback with an a modular synthesizer.”

Edited in a quiet apartment on the shores of the Baltic, “the record bears marks of the stillness of the surroundings in which it was finalised. There is a sense of hushed awe and a subtle reference to the wind swept coldness of the landscape in these pieces.”