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EKG & Giuseppe Ielasi - Group

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Artist: EKG & Giuseppe Ielasi

Album: Group

Label: Formed

Review date: Apr. 20, 2007

EKG and Giuseppe Ielasiís 2005 tour fell on hard times when Dean Roberts, the relatively big name who was supposed to accompany them through the Eastern US, bowed out at the last minute due to visa concerns. Nonetheless the (then) Chicago-based electro-acoustic duo and their Italian partner in altered sonics soldiered on, playing a series of concerts to small audiences. But while the crowds werenít big, the endeavor can hardly be termed a failure; it yielded this attractively elusive recording, which doesnít really sound like either an EKG (Ernst Karel ó trumpet, analog electronics; Kyle Bruckmann ó oboe, English Horn, and synth) record or anything Iíve heard by Ielasi (electronics, guitar, piano).

Group is not your ordinary live record. Instead Karel and Ielasi took raw recordings from the tour home and treated them as malleable raw material. On the first of the latterís two unnamed tracks, a fine digital mist sprinkles over field recordings of some undefined activity. It could be someone cooking dinner, the group plugging in their gear, whatever; the open-air activity coexists with persistent hums and the dissenting voice of a forlorn piano. Then the environmental sounds give way to oscillating drones, but the piano continues its oblique commentary. The piece feels more like sound design for a film than music; to steal a phrase from Metamkine records, a cinema pour líoreille.

Karelís ď(Providence-Middletown),Ē by contrast, is electronic but for a detuned guitar thatís as blurry and unreachable as some desert mirage. Itís probably an edit of live performances, but some wavering backwards loops and hard edits scramble any sense of linear time. The ďgroupísĒ synergy thus manifests at the organizational level, conflating EKGís aural still lives and Ielasiís more filmic sensibilities to manufacture a seemingly inevitable narrative flow that makes for a thoroughly rewarding listening.

By Bill Meyer

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