Sunday, June 16, 2013

Listen The Cinema Show by Adern X & Tiziano Milani

We’re all familiar with the admonition to hush our voices and silence our cell phones before a show. But what about the time before the show ~ the gathering time before the previews? In the U.S., the average preview time is now 23 minutes, prefaced by perhaps ten minutes of pre-preview features. Any sense of anticipation is sublimated by advertisements; gone are the days when one could enter an empty theatre and gauge the excitement of the crowd as the seats slowly filled, listening to the bleed-through from adjoining auditoriums. The Cinema Show captures this sense, along with echoes of post-film conversation, standing in the cold while a friend lights a cigarette, discussing dialogue and diners. The album is a love letter to the cinema as opposed to movies: the entire experience, the love affair of the event from gathering to post-coital glow. The Cinema Show‘s cinematic antecedent is 2003′s “Goodbye Dragon Inn”, a tender film that unfolds around a film being shown on the last night of a beloved theatre. A marriage of plundered soundtrack and field recording, The Cinema Show inspires a similar sense of melancholic gratitude.

The album contains four reels and an intermezzo. Adern X & Tiziano Milani created this project by recording sounds within cinemas and augmenting them with laptop loops and explorations. On the cover, one sees a man lurking above what we assume is a theatre, excluded from the crowd, yet privy to its sounds. One cannot help but imagine the artists, not where they are supposed to be, but on the roof, behind the curtain, pressed against the corners of the lobby. When hearing conversation, trains and mechanical windings, we are not entirely sure if these sounds are “pure” (for example, the subway that runs beneath the Angelika), recorded directly from movies, or added in post-production. Specific identification is difficult. According to the artists, the catlike screech in “Intermezzo” is likely a mangled theremin from an old sci-fi film.
“reel 3″ contains the sounds of crickets, vinyl scratches and an elevator lift, but is noteworthy for its musical development. As the track unfolds, it turns an elegiac meditation on cinema scores and their impact. The strings rise, the heart soars, muffled fireworks explode in the background. ”reel 4″ uses wind chimes and light crashes to create a sense of disturbed timelessness; this time, when the strings arise, the effect is more dramatic as a result. The classical sounds melt into a bed of shortwave static and electronic beeps, setting up the final reel. The pit orchestra swells, competing with high-pitched frequencies for attention: the old and new colliding, neither surrendering an inch. Will the modern overtake the traditional, the flash consume the subtle movement of the heart and mind? The artists imply that the residue of cinematic ghosts is as powerful as the modern multiplex.

Review by: Richard Allen (

Adern X is the nom de guerre of Andrea Piran, who benevolently pointed me towards two of his creatures – 2011′s Polaroid and 2012′s Ink Spots Called Words – in which he deals with computerized modifications of antecedent sources. The material’s extent mainly encompasses processed field recordings and manipulated/reassembled samples. Piran is deeply involved in the development of a sub-metropolitan poetry of sorts inside these treatments, letting us visualize barren landscapes and melancholic flashes in an electroacoustic craquelè that leaves no space to immoderate irony or manifest fun. This is to say that the man appears as a serious operator, not someone who limits the scope of “creativity” to gathering a hundred splinters and meshing it nonchalantly to generate chaotic diversions. There is a noticeable search for the recondite implications of cyclical reiteration, and also a definite inclination to framing the unhappy factor springing out of antediluvian idealism into contemporary settings without carbon copies of other people’s glories (you know what we mean, when decaying loops are concerned; but there’s no authentic risk of plagiarism in this case). Most of all, Adern X’s conceptions seem entirely taken by a process-to-valid-result, A-to-B logic that should ideally represent the foundation of the finest consequences in current computer music, with over-average humanity for good measure. Sporadically, the acoustic appearance might not be enthralling. But the aroma of a total commitment to the “communication” of something important is clearly perceptible.
That said, Polaroid was generated from two lengthy portions of previously occurred live performances, whereas the beautifully titled Ink Spots Called Words collects tracks that were released from 2007 to 2012 on various compilations and projects. Although the obvious differences in atmospheres and core substances render the outcome rather uneven, the coherence that unifies this pair of statements is evident (they even share a few segments). Amidst the growing tensions and the everyday routines symbolized by some of the episodes, Piran always tries to find methods to let us stop and reflect on what we’re listening to. And – please take note – the listening act means “concentration”. Don’t let the ceaseless machine-like rhythms (occasionally recalling Esplendor Geometrico) and the extreme vocal cut-ups fool you into thinking about an asinine potpourri. The wholeness of the combined shapes, the nearly grotesque resonance of certain fragments, the peculiarly emotional aspects of the “smoother” pieces; all of the above contributes to magnify the details of extremely specific macrocosms where introspection, neurosis and – ultimately – the release of copious doses of dynamic energy weigh the same. I cannot guarantee that you will consider everything adorable but – sure enough – the immediately discernible identity of Adern X’s sonic fauna is a feature that not many Italians can expose, for in this depressing country the preference usually goes to striding along the beaten paths of imitation/modeling, whatever the ambit. At the end of the day, Piran is a reasoning human specimen, and those thoughts translate into challenging and often truly dazzling music.

Review by: Massimo Ricci (