1. Absum I (3:19)
2. Absum II (5:51)
3. Absum III (4:04)
4. Absum IV (for blown objects and processing) (9:06)
5. Absum V (for two violins and magnetic tape) (10:35)
6. Absum VI (9:34)
“Absum” is a Latin word that has various meanings, including: 1) not being there, being absent, 2) being free, 3) abstaining, opposing, being alien, 4) differing, being different, 5) (regarding places) being distant, being far away, 6) being inferior.
· Osvaldo Coluccino: electronics, violin, objects
All music by Osvaldo Coluccino (SIAE)
Played, processed, recorded and mixed by Osvaldo Coluccino in Italy in 1999
Sleeve notes and photos by Osvaldo Coluccino
Graphic design by László Szakács
Produced by László Juhász
©+℗ 1999 Osvaldo Coluccino (SIAE), all music and recording copyright reserved
Presence of the work, absence of the author
So muffled, vapor escaping from an old coffer, so dusty and apparently, in some ways, timbrically “primordial” and yet elusive, the first three compositions of the album unfold. The following three increase the dynamism and openness of the timbre.
As always in my albums, also in Absum a journey takes place along the tracks that, joined together, make it up.
Even in this “raw” timbre paste, emblem of adherence to the roughness of life (or death), there is multiplicity and mutability: the carpet is perturbed by rivulets of inserts, wave shifts and degrees of spatial depth. The first three pieces have a more intimate, dark, slow, melancholy character; Absum IV presents asymmetrical weaves and movements mainly generated by altered puffs and airy doughs in three-dimensionality; Absum V bewitches us with metamorphic mixtures in space created by two violins that expressively and ineffably “sing” at the two opposite wings of the hall and in the distance, and by the related processings; Absum VI would seem a development of what was previously sown, it expresses a wealth of intent and then takes leave with a whirlwind closure, as if it were the final movement of a symphonic composition in which the themes or, as in our case, the stylistic elements, return, but in a fragmented way, mix each other, and then close the work in a dizzying way.
In the prevailing harmonic indeterminacy, or along this texture of the noise, it is also possible to detect a couple of “interference” according to traditional harmony, eg. in the opening of Absum II an interval of perfect fourth appears (B flat-E flat), and in the closing a repeated descending minor third (D flat-B flat). This same last interval (minor third) is repeated, but ascending, at the end of Absum III. Obviously this should not be interpreted as a retrograde (wink to the tonality) or manneristic event, but on the contrary as an emotional necessity.
“Absum”, a Latin word that would mean: “despite all this, the self has nothing to do with it”, “the self has ‘gone out’ for a moment”, “there is something else that is more entitled to attend or to stay than the self“… As if to say, aiming for a sort of resistance to the centrality (arrogance) of the author and, consequently, for a certain ontological dissipation… in favor of the work itself.
It is an album that had its gestation in the mid-90s of the last century, then not so distant, in terms of aesthetics, from a certain charm of “early electronic” nor many years away from some rare high-profile electroacoustic research by classical composers in the mid-1980s. Two conservatory students, in the course of Analysis of Electroacoustic Music taught by Maestro Antonio Doro, in 2005 presented their diploma thesis on two of Absum‘s pieces.
“A man and composer of uncommon sensibility in an Italian scene depressingly founded on the terminal cancers of political alliances and rampant falsehood, Osvaldo Coluccino gets straight to the point when he talks about Absum, published some 22 years after its conception.
‘The premise is (…) the hope that the work, in its purity, speaks for itself and of something that concerns what goes beyond, making use of the artist (the human being) as a sounding board, but limiting his presence as much as possible – that is, his exhibitionism and virtuosity, his existential supremacy over the instances of art.’
For context, please read the complete interview.
The Latin word ‘absum’ is indeed the root of ‘absent’. Those accustomed to reasoning in terms of ‘maestro’, ‘conductor’, ‘harmonic laws’ and whatnot might perceive a record like this as anathema. Only the universe’s main component – the sound – is present in variously altered/processed forms. The one who turned it all on is, in this case, practically invisible, though we can distinctly feel his spirit behind the whole.
We ought to be grateful for these six movements, at once representing a valuable teaching and, in the opinion of this reviewer, a sizable sample of Coluccino’s finest artistry.
The following are personal sensations jotted down track by track, over a cycle of listening sessions. By definition, they are extremely limited as far as the capacity of attributing the correct connotations to such an intangible inwardness is concerned.
1) Trembling electronic frequencies, almost shy in their manifestation, yet rich in subsonics substantiating their effect on our perception.
2) My overall favorite part. The music breathes, touches deep inside, unravels between distant murmurs containing harmonic embryos and more vivid manifestations. Noisy apparitions immediately vanish in the dark, or transmit signals that cannot be decoded via normal analytical processes. Awesome ghostly resonances place the listener in a transcendent meeting of pasts never really identifiable. There are faint lights in the apparent decline of shapes. The instinctive attraction to them must be trusted.
3) Coluccino is here at his highest level of ‘galactically insightful’, so to speak. The slowing down of the vital pulsations broadens the inner visual field, at the same time subtracting a little anxiety from the set of reverberating auras. We’re aware of having now reached the centre of a psycho-mnemonic cage, built by no one.
4) The concreteness, however seemingly ethereal, of the composer’s insufflations through unspecified objects and instruments adds a dramatic dimension of sudden awakening. In between, quasi-carillonesque cues and unexpected eruptions from nowhere, at times of metallic descent, create a sequence of psychoacoustic frames that conceal rather than reveal. Still, the truth is, to some extent, intuitable. The most profound ‘why?’ should ideally remain unanswered, until the next stage of evolution.
5) Coluccino superimposes two violins, both played by him, with a magnetic tape of electroacoustic ectoplasms. The result is a kind of abstractionism that, nevertheless, possesses several figurative attributes. We detect the struggle of the ephemeral earthly vessel to stay afloat amidst a thousand doubts of diverse origin. The mind, potentially corruptible by stupidly esoteric formulas, finds itself facing what is wonderfully pure, which in turn would be described by the ignorant as ‘dangerous’. Or, at least, misleading. But this, like it or not, is the right path to follow.
6) We are not granted the commonplace of ‘well-deserved rest’ at the end of the journey. The concluding movement is a reminder of what is harsh, uncomfortable, unclassifiable for one’s own convenience. More abrupt cuts, silences as long as a freeze-dried eternity, openings on interpretations of a vibratory future that won’t take into consideration the selfishly intellectual needs of mere human beings. For they continue to believe in fairy tales narrating an anthropocentric trip towards the demise of intelligence.” / Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes, 31 May 2021