Bridging La Monte Young and Sonic Youth, and some recondite sources besides, Archetti and Wiget´s work is an almost scientific exploration of low Hertz noise, but pitched at a poetic level. Sometimes it can even sound like Brian Eno in a particularly bad mood. Archetti and Wiget are pursuing their own extremist aesthetic, which I would compare to classic AMM. Play loud. Or, then again, very quietly.
Archetti and Wiget present a dark humanity with their crafty, sombre and exciting soundimages. Said to be improvised, but comes across both thoroughly prepared and reflective. The acoustic guitar moves away from traditional European improv, in a real attempt to find new paths. It´s the playfulness that carries the seriousness through the music. The frames are wellknown, but the content offers variation and an approach that lift the duo out of the avantgarde mainstream.
”Low Tide Digitals II” is a subtle, slow burn of an album that has one of the more unique tonal palettes that I've heard in some time. The release opens with "Stück 12" (continuing where their first release left off) and the track opens with some warm cello strains before a rumbling low-end pulses into the background slowly as backwards loops of the cello are layered to fill in the chasm of mid-range. "Stück 13" is just as dramatic, dropping sub-bass bombs as filtered cello strokes paint a soft opening before dissolving into a clicky, buzzing second-half. At times, the duo finds an almost blissful ground with their experimentation, as "Stück 16" mingles warm bass guitar strums with subtle gurgling electronics for something that sounds like Tortoise on a massive amount of narcotics while "Stück 21" drops sticky and stuttering guitar notes onto one another over a low guttural tone for something that sounds like what you might get if you crossed ultra-low Gregorian chants with a broken windchime made from an old guitar. "Stück 17" drops more deep bass hits with backwards swirls of cello and strummed guitar bits for something dynamic and delicate at the same.
The first track, noted as “Stuck 12”, owns to the fact that these works are meant to continue where the previous album of the same name left off. Like a swirled scar, raw and ever-changing, both works are beautifully rendered smears of fragmented sound; it is a trait which situates the events of the albums in a twilight neverland mapped by margin walkers such as Taku Sugimoto and Kaffe Matthews. This second effort, however, bears movements more pronounced and articulate, while electronics and organic instruments engage in a communal project.
On the whole, ”Low Tide Digitals II” shows the duo having processed their source material to an even more unrecognizable extent. Archetti's guitar and Wiget's cello seem pushed, nay tortured to their harmonic limits. At times the middle ranges seem to have been squeezed out of the music entirely. There is also a more distinct emphasis on electronic programming and synthetic sounds on their newest outing, producing the general effect that ”Low Tide Digitals II” is a more self-consciously extreme effort.
The music moves effortlessly from pretty, finely detailed Brian Eno-esque soundscapes and grainier soft-noise assemblages reminiscent of Rune Grammofon's Deathprod/Supersilent axis. Tracks like “Stuck 21” and “Stück 22” sound like they were tailored specifically for the label's aesthetics, they also work wonderfully well, especially “Stück 22”, with its wailing guitar notes and tortured atmosphere.
There aren´t many that manage to make electronics sound warm, to dress the listener in warm clothing of fuzz and quiet noise. Often the more clinical sound of digitalisation will take over and you risk to lose some of the human elements behind the music. The duo master this task very well and on ”Stück 23” we hear a warm stream of sound that can melt the coldest of ears. This feeling of a human hand and a grip of details can not be produced by defaulted parameters from a factory. They change between a current free drive not unlike Sigur Ros when Wiget pulls out the cello, while they crackle closer to Fennesz or Deathprod when the electronics are put forward.
The mood of these twelve improvised compositions for cello, guitar and electronics is that of seafloor music - alive with clicks and pings, ominous hull knocks and so many pounds of pressure per square inch that your eardrums buckle under the weight. As objective observations, they are compelling, what with all of their percolating details and scrabbling textures. Crafting contrast, Wiget and Archetti contextualise theses sounds next to profoundly ugly electric field disturbances, painfully loud digital explosions and gut-churning low-end frequencies. Like a swirled scar, raw and ever-changing, this work is a beautifully rendered smear of fragmented sound; a trait which situates the events of the albums in the twilight neverland mapped by margin walkers such as Taku Sugimoto and Kaffe Matthews. On the majority of pieces, Wiget melts the source material into a fluttering spray of sine waves that's all but beatless, displaying his characteristic sensibility for miniscule variations in tone. Archetti, meanwhile, whittles material down into a splintered rhythm section, snagging the melodic midrange on its heart-emblazoned sleeve. Now and again one finds pieces in which blasts of noise are relatively tempered while shrill siren gurgles and astringent chords are nursed by someone squeezing lemony textures out of a guitar and fashioning quiet beats from raindrops. Throughout some forty-four minutes, this effort establishes that human emotion can remain quite distinct in quite abstract settings. For this reason, Low Tides Digitals II is made radiant with wraiths of electronic tone, drug-slurred cello and rustic harmonies that twine like smoke.
The sounds are at once captivating and elusive, graven images flashing intermittently across every surface of a blackened theater. Like Brian Eno's ”Apollo”, a soundtrack to visuals of NASA's missions to the moon of the same name, ”LTDII” maps a remarkable environment. But unlike Eno's work, which tends to proffer spaces stretching into infinity without discernible differentiation, a road we can all follow forever, Archetti and Wiget mark each passing moment with sounds that are as singular and diverse as the landscape of the moon itself, while maintaining that lunar hue. Rather than a soundtrack for a collective (national) dream, ”LTDII” is procession of sound images, the half-formed recollections of events that shape our own landscape, as well as the belated imagining of them: precisely deployed hums and hisses, ghostly radio frequencies and elegiac organ chords blur the line between the moon landing and its subsequent TV memory, while pristine low-frequency cannonballs and distended masses of dirty electric guitar further roil the slideshow.
It´s not everyday that you hear an album of improvised experimental guitar, cello and electronics, but then again legendary Norwegian label Rune Grammofon isn't in the business of putting out common or garden music. at times disturbing, at times hypnotic, this, like the Murcof album i reviewed a few weeks back, is no easy listen. But it is never less than a thrilling experience listening to musicians who feel their instruments, and who improvise from a place inside themselves that so many artists rarely tap into.
On Rune Grammofon, who, by my estimation, have only released one not-amazing record, ever, this is an accomplished and elegant thing, with just the right mix of beauty and cruelty, smoothness and crackle. I listen to it when I want to be in the safe hands of abstraction, indoors and alone, remembering a summer of whale gravestones and sacred geometry, a summer soundtracked in my heart by shifted pitches, radio static, atmospheric oscillations and bat-detector blips.
The dereliction of ”Stuck 18”s plucked strings and the protesting scrape of Wiget´s cello suggest Ry Cooder´s soundtrack to ”Paris, Texas” re-recorded by Tom Waits. At other times ”Low Tide Digitals” bleakness evokes memories of Simon Fisher Turnes´s accompaniment to Derek Jarman´s film ”Caravaggio”. This is beautiful, lonely music that hovers on the boundaries of improvisation and ambience.