Review: Emiliano Romanelli – Tabulatura (Volume 1)

coverRomanelli holds his sounds in place and asks me to look closer. Each of the guitar drones sways like the branches of a tree, shifting slowly through different volume levels and harmonic profiles, veering back and forth over a central point. The movement is enough to gift the album a soft, respiratory warmth – reshaping gently in response to certain directives of the environment – yet doesn’t undermine the perception of Tabulatura as a selection of solid objects, designed to be admired for their sculptural handiwork rather than their navigation through time. The longer I spend contemplating these seven pieces (each referred to as a “Pattern”, and each crafted from 16 guitar recordings and custom computer software), the further I dive into the creases between notes, where overtones are massaged out of the rub between two harmonised drones, and pulses emerge in the careful amalgam of frequency.

I seldom hear the guitar in its recognisable form, save for a few moments where the plastic of the e-bow casing scrapes against one the strings, creating a brief metallic buzz within the wall of sound. Other than these jolting reminders of process, I’m left to examine these tones as vibrations dislocated from their source, hovering in the air as if of their own ghostly volition, waiting patiently for me to pick out shapes and secrets within the constellations of pitch. Within “Pattern #25”, I start to hear a dead-air hiss in the upper frequencies, which wanders nonchalantly across top end of my hearing. During the organ-esque resolve of “Pattern #49”, I seem to develop a sort of sonic x-ray: the foreground notes fall back to reveal a set of new, softer frequencies tucked just in behind them, like the raw circuitry powering the major chord that beams at the surface. Persistent listening brings greater understanding, with compositional development germinated not from within the recordings themselves, but from my evolving comprehension of them.