Tu m', Pop Involved [Version 3.0]
Rossano Polidoro and Emiliano Romanelli take the name Tu m' from Marcel Duchamp's last painting . Of course, Duchamp is one of the true visionaries of modern art-and that includes music (a collection of Duchamp musical pieces is available via Sub Rosa). So there are ample reasons for these two Italians to pay homage to Duchamp's legacy, not only by naming themselves after a work of his but by creating music that embodies his desire to push his audiences to reconsider not only what art is but what life is as well. That's what these two Italians are doing on Pop Involved [Version 3.0], released as part of Fällt's "Ferric" series. As far as I can tell, they are using many of the same ideas, sounds, and techniques currently in vogue in the electronic music world (glitches, fusion of acoustic instruments with digital processing). However, they manage (like Duchamp did 80+ years ago) to take these common elements and create something fresh, interesting, surprising, funny, and entertaining out of them.
The work begins with an acoustic guitar playing a soft, repeating melody that quickly merges with what sounds like a static-filled recreation of that melody. But the guitar remains throughout, repeating that first, simple melody over and over again, while the digital noise blows up and expands and does all sorts of other, weird things. It's a song of contrast-silence with chaos, calm with confusion. It's an interesting way to begin a disk, and, structurally at least, it's very representative of the other works. That is, most of the works combine opposing forces: simple sounds or simple melodies that either are fused with more complicated doppelgangers or slowly build into bigger, louder, more confusing versions of the original melody. Each track is different, of course, but they all maintain this basic structure.
And this repetition would be a problem (would become boring) if each of the individual songs didn't sound so fundamentally different from one another. In some ways, what Tu m' has created here is nothing short of a lexicon of electronic music, only a lexicon that has been culled and arranged to suit its own, unusual aesthetic. "The End of the Summer," for example, sounds like the remnants of one of the softer moments on Fennesz's Endless Summer, repeated over and over, growing more distorted with each repetition. By contrast, "What Time Is It?" sounds like an early ISAN track, with the repetition growing from a simple alarm clock melody, adding acoustic piano, guitar, digital noise, and other fun tidbits to create something that, while still retaining the original melody, is beyond chaotic by the end. And then there's "I Can't Get Started," which sounds like the beginnings of some Radian or other Mego artist's industrial electronic enterprise, only in these Italian hands, the industrial sounds are not ground into noise or meat but taken apart, stripped and rearranged as digital melodies and rather odd trombone solos that grow and mutate and expand in unusual, entertaining ways.
And that's really the key to this group's work: entertainment. Even when their music is at its most obscure or dissonant, it's always centered on a melody, there's always a hint of humor in the choice of sounds, and there's always something unexpected lurking around. It's a lot of fun.
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