Luigi Archetti

(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Das Ohr (1993), 6.5/10
Adrenalin (1994), 6.5/10
Cubic Yellow (1999), 7/10
Hulu Project (2000), 6/10
Transient Places (2004), 6.5/10
Februar (2005), 7/10
Tiere Der Nacht: Krauter & Weltmeister (2005), 6/10
Lava (2021), 6.5/10

Luigi Archetti, born in Italy (1955) but raised in Switzerland (since 1965), specializes in music that borders on ambient, droning and microtonal. His first solo album was Das Ohr (ATM, 1993), which includes 35 brief vignettes, notably the dilated, Hendrix-ian guitar-solo of Outer Ear the android-exotic ballet Hammer and Ambass, the robotic folk dance Trommelfell, the tense strumming of Gehorknochelchen, the closing drone of Ohrtrompete, the industrial-metal nightmare of Paukengang. Archetti's dissonant guitar miniatures (the instrument is mostly unrecognizable) explore a territory that extends from Fred Frith's noise-rock to Derek Bailey's noise-jazz.

Adrenalin (Recdec, 1994), his "rock" masterpiece, assembled 28 deconstructed, cubist songs of a dissonant post-psychedelic music mutating into a wild variety of styles. The "band" (Archetti on distorted guitar, Urs Blochinger on cacophonous reeds, Martin Gantenbein on creative percussion effects, Hubl Greiner on disorienting samples, Der Volz on the rare vocals) was subjected to all sorts of sonic torture in the remixing stage. Virtually each piece was born at the intersection of abstract electronic music, tribal folk music, convoluted prog-rock, loose free-jazz, demented chamber music, with one or the other element prevailing over the rest.

Archetti's third and boldest solo was Cubic Yellow (Captain Trip, 1999), credited to the Hulu Project, that added sampling, electronics and drum machines to Archetti's eclectic and surreal guitar soundscapes. The collection opened with the atmospheric dance piece Yellow Notification that could not be more misleading, as the rest of the pieces (except Yellow Lullaby) were in the abstract, dissonant vein. Some of them toyed not only with texture but also with rhythm, thus achieving the most disorienting effects: The Yellow Sign, an eerie blend of cosmic music and drum'n'bass, Yellow & Grey, a similar amoeba of drones, reverbs and syncopated beats, Yellow Greenland, halfway between Brazilian carnival frenzy and galactic signals, Fall Back on Yellow, drum'n'bass punctured by volleys of dissonances. Other pieces sounded ominous portraits of future life (or death): The Yellow House, a shapeless post-industrial noise that coalesces into a rapid-fire miasma, Yellow Pellet, an assembly of ghostly echoes from another world, Yellow Hotel Bill, a series of electrical shocks, an well as the assorted noise collages of Get Into Yellow water, Yellow Lunar Vehicle and How About Yellow?.

He played guitar on, among others, Guru Guru's Shake Well (Zyx, 1993), Moshi Moshi (Think Progressive, 1997) and 2000 Gurus (Fuenfundvierzig, 2000), and for avantgarde vocalist Ellen Christi's Alienstalk (Sargasso, 1998)

He has also released a few collaborations with percussionist Mani Neumeier under the moniker Tiere Der Nacht, namely Hot Stuff (Recrec, 1992), Wolpertinger (Recrec, 1994), Evergreens (Captain Trip, 1997), Sleepless (Captain Trip, 1998); the free-noise improvisations for rock quartet (Marin Gantenbein on drums, Max Oliver Schmid on drums, Jan Schlegel on bass) of Erbsline (Mass & Fieber, 1996); the improvisations with drummer Martin Gantenbein and cellist Bo Wiget credited to Affront Perdu on Fin de Siecle (Mass & Fieber, 1997); Low Tide Digitals (Rune-Grammofon, 2001) and Low Tide Digitals II (Rune-Grammofon, 2005), which were further collaborations for Archetti on guitar (and electronics) and Bo Wiget on cello (and electronics); a collaboration with bassist Jan Schlegel, Silent Surface (Unit, 2003). The two volumes of Low Tide Digitals, in particular, were (untitled) studies for Eastern-inspired distortion-laden chamber electroacoustic music (the second track of the second volume) and ominous black holes of "musique concrete" (the ninth and the eleventh tracks of the second volume).

The shamanic music of the Hulu Project (HBL, 2000) was born of a collaboration with electronic musician Hubl Greiner and Siberian singer Stepanida Borisova. The singer dominates the proceedings. Her voice occupies the higher layer and gives each piece its dramatic quality. Below it, the second layer is taken by the percussion, that are played in a non-rhythmic fashion besides the usual timekeeping fashion. They "embellish" the harmony. The electronic background is actually the lowest layer, and rarely intrudes in the dialogue between the human voice and the percussion instruments. A few tracks try to jump on the transglobal dance wagon, but they are the minority.

The 15 Transient Places (Unit, 2004) are electronic vignettes mostly in the droning/microtonal style. tones are created, floated around, slowly mutated or made oscillate, sometimes detonated or disintegrated. Sometimes they achieve the symphonic intensity of Gordon Mumma's installations, sometimes they decay into quantum void, and sometimes they mumble and chatter like a council of tiny animals. The nine-minute eighth track embodies the psychological aspect of Archetti's research, as the sounds are manipulated and sequenced in such a way as to generate maximum suspense and terror.

One of his most abstract and intense works, Februar (Unit, 2005) is basically an atonal "concrete" symphony in 14 movements. The original sources are scientifically decomposed by the electronic manipulation and the resulting extreme audio range is used to sculpt a narrative stream of sound.

The core of Tiere Der Nacht's Krauter & Weltmeister (Captain Trip, 2005) is hypnotic, mildly dissonant and highly percussive pieces (Falling Streamheater, All Yomo). Occasionally danceable (Krauter & Weltmeister) and occasionally romantic (Zap Love), the ritual culminates with the dilated and introspective jazz-rock of New Kabuki.

Null (Die Schachtel, 2010) and Null II/III (Die Schachtel, 2012) compiles a massive electronic work.

Silent Surface II (2012) documents a collaboration between Luigi Archetti (on guitar and electronics) and Jan Schlegel (on bass and electronics).

Weltformat (Schachtel, 2019) documents a collaboration with Bo Wiget (on cello, electronics, and vocals).

The two-disc Lava (2021) contains 25 austere essays on deep listening. 1.1 begins slowly, with meditative guitar plucking, focusing the attention more on the interval between the notes than on the notes themselves, but suddenly the overtones overlap expanding into a magniloquent drone. The subdued minimalist repetition of 1.2 feels like it's coming from a mechanical carillon, then other, languid voices appear, evoking a peaceful ecosystem. Several compositions with minimal movement, like 1.3, are the musical equivalent of still-life paintings. The stately funeral music for gongs 1.6 is one of the most intriguing creations. When the music finally coheres into the semblance of a song, like in 1.4 and 1.7 and 2.5, the effect is like an ambient, deconstructed version of Leo Kottke's rhapsodies. Another relatively organic song, 1.12, is a bluesy concoction attacked by a fluttering metallic butterfly, whereas 2.8 has the flavor of a Mediterranean mandolin playing to the rising sun. The album rarely repeats itself. The rest contains the subliminal tribal dance 1.5, the ear-splitting radio signal of 1.8, the industrial dance of the first three minutes of 2.11, the pulsating, hammering 1.13 and 2.2 (ending with the ugliest decomposition of the album), the the extraterrestrial beep of 2.7...

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(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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