All three of them play accordion on Sei Ritornelli and not much else, although ‘objects’ are mentioned on the sleeve. This isn’t accordion as we know it, though. Recorded live in Switzerland at the back end of 2011 and mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi, the instrument’s familiar pump-and-wheeze is manipulated to such levels as to come out sounding totally alien. Essentially what I suppose one would call a ‘noise’ record – and there are definitely noisy tracks here – the collective augment proceedings by heightening the impact of natural sounds. The magnificently slow-moving ‘Fuoco Fatuo’ creaks as though taking place on an ancient boat, with what I guess are the musicians’ chairs providing the gently percussive click or perhaps the dusty folds of the instruments themselves. The drones coaxed out of the accordions are deep, menacing ones that prowl around the edges of the performance space.
Sei Ritornelli is a remarkably varied album considering the limited means with which it was made. From the regal creep of ‘Fuoco Fatuo’ emerges the screed of ‘Abbandonato’, a tortured series of metallic scrapes and high-pitched howls that sound more like damaged violins than accordions. The closest the album comes to a ‘classic’ accordion sound is ‘Gira Bile’, a woozy seesaw of tired air that could ostensibly soundtrack a back-street Parisian horror, but for the most part the album is given over to a more jarring set of sounds that hide their lineage. ‘Mala Carne’ is a growling, writhing beast; kind of a migraine made audible, accompanied by rattlesnake crackles to increase the fevered terror. It rolls over for ten minutes before being put suddenly out of its misery. The eight-minute blackboard screech of ‘Maledetto’ (translation: ‘Damned’) is the most typically ‘noise’ track on the CD, like a stripped-back Merzbow or less filthy Kevin Drumm piece.
‘Fantasma’ is a relatively relaxing track to close on, but again represents a change in direction. Here the accordions’ keys are held down and the resutlant drones are a kind of sonic spaghettification. A strange buzz – like a fly caught inside the bellows – flits around it all, providing the air of dissonance required to lift the music onto a higher, more interesting plain. The album as a whole is a restless, slightly fragmented piece of work but one that presents an oft-unloved instrument in new and refreshingly contemporary light.