K11: Metaphonic Portrait 1230 A.D. (Actual Noise Records)


Posted on Sep 8th 2010 11:52 pm

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K11: Metaphonic Portrait: 1230 A.D.

Metaphonic Portrait: 1230 A.D.
Actual Noise 2010
04 Tracks. 41mins00secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: DLD

Behind the rather enigmatic K11 moniker is Italian experimental musician Pietro Riparbelli, who has released a number of haunting works under various names, and also recently collaborated with French multi-instrumentist Philippe Petit on the superb The Haunting Triptych album which was published on Boring Machines earlier this year.

Two years ago, Riparbelli released Voices From Thelema, an album built from sonic components and atmospheric noises recorded on short-wave radio receivers in the ruins of Thelema Abbey, in Sicily. These signals were later processed into stark instrumental pieces. Metaphonic Portrait 1230 A.D. follows a similar idea. For this project, Riparbelli set up camp in the lower basilica of Assisi Cathedral, in the Italian province of Umbria, feet away from the relics of St Francis Of Assisi, recording a vast array of ambient noises and sounds, which were then processed into the dense soundscapes forming the basis of the four tracks collected here. Voices and organ  were added to accentuate the emotional scope of these pieces.

Riparbelli’s work is in essence dark and deeply textural. The four pieces making this album all evolve on similar grounds, or at least appear to do so, when they often are in fact  poles apart. While the overall appearance is that of stark introspective sound forms, they are in fact made up of extremely minute components, some barely audible, which are layered, like geological strata, until they become something entirely different. At times, these are deeply scared by added processed sounds, like is the case straight from the opening moment of 300=TAU as electrifying stabs of guitars tear through the silence, before progressively dissolving into a distant drone over which ghostly voices echo. Voices are also intrinsically part of the monumental 888 which follows, especially in the first half of the piece. Here, Riparbelli uses the particular acoustic of the church, especially the multiple reverberations, to emulate the ethereal choral intensity of monastic formations, but these are gradually overcome by much harsher sound forms, turning the piece into a visceral epic as the noise becomes almost too fierce to bear, almost returning to the opening sequence of the preceding track, before the ethereal choir is once again exposed, but somewhat in the distance, as if it had drifted away seeking cover from a storm.

Again, Riparbelli appears to concentrate on a blend of greatly distorted guitars, distant vocal elements and flickers of textures on 18=IH, but here, it is almost as if he’d taken scraps of some discarded My Bloody Valentine session and stripped them of pretty much everything apart for dense guitar layers. Toward the end, these entirely withdraw to reveal a delicate flourish of organ. Despite relying on many of the components used on the three preceding tracks, 318 appears much softer and gentle, its harsher angles smoothened drastically, while a dense background organ drone floats in between various noises throughout.

What Pietro Riparbelli creates with this album is totally fascinating. His deeply organic sound, at once beautifully intimate and extremely vast, never appears twice in exactly the same light. Equally, the music, while meditative in most parts, is fueled by intense discharges of energy which do very little to lighten up the mood. This album constantly threatens to collapse into cataclysmic chaos as Riparbelli pushes forever more into dark and inhospitable territories, but he very cleverly negotiates his way through the stark soundscapes he creates to keep the tension going throughout.


Pietro Riparbelli/K11 | Pietro Riparbelli/K11 (MySpace) | Actual Noise Records
Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: DLD

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