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Radu Malfatti / Klaus Filip - Imaoto

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Artist: Radu Malfatti / Klaus Filip

Album: Imaoto

Label: Erstwhile

Review date: Mar. 17, 2010

Electronic musician Klaus Filip enters the Erstwhile catalog on this disc of duo improvisations with pioneering trombonist and composer Radu Malfatti. While the two have performed together and recorded in a group context, Imaoto is their first duo recording -- and it’s a winner.

A large part of the album’s success comes down to a first-rate recording. For the few familiar with either musician’s work, they’ll recognize the importance of each detail. The recording is typical of those made at Amann Studios, in that proper attention is given to each point and gesture, no matter where on the sonic spectrum. Malfatti’s low-register trombone tones sing or purr while his exhalations pour forth as myriad crystalline birds. Bell-taps and other softer percussives are captured with equal fidelity and given just the right accent. Similarly, each sinewave Filip generates soars, the multiple pitches deeply resonant and vibrating in an Alvin Lucier fashion. Higher utterances are never shrill, and hearing these multiple resonances move around the soundstage is a nice touch.

Then, there is the sense of interaction. It’s constant throughout the two long pieces and contributes to constant but mild tension and release, despite the music’s calm atmosphere. There are numerous instances when one musician will complete an idea posed by the other. During the opening moments of “Oto,” Malfatti’s pithy low rumble is answered by an equally gorgeous sinewave dyad around the same pitch roughly an octave higher. Malfatti then responds with a torrent of those bells, or maybe its falling broken glass. The piece continues in a similar fashion, amazingly pure intervals in peaceful communion with gentle slopes of sound and tone that plateau and disappear. These slow swells and fades place the intermittent percussive timbres in stark relief.

Best of all is the discipline involved in attaining such a wealth and variety of music from two sound sources. The many pitch and timbral variations ensure that there’s hardly any silence while maintaining plenty of open space. Each musician brings a restrained but orchestral aesthetic to the table, with all of these factors merging to create 50 minutes of richness and beauty.

By Marc Medwin

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