When I first saw the announcement for this collaboration, I was very, very excited to say the least. Although I wouldn't consider myself a completely steadfast (his earlier work veers towards the too-harsh side of the spectrum too much for me) fan of Fennesz, I admit that in a world cluttered with glitchy electronic music, his patient releases still stand out. Ryuichi Sakamoto holds a somewhat similar place in my mind. His earlier work often veers into almost cheesy world-music at times, yet his Dischord release is outstanding and even groundbreaking.
The Sala Santa Cecilia EP finds the two artists each on a laptop, working together to create a piece that was originally done for the Romaeuropa Festival in Rome late last year. It's a standalone piece running almost twenty minutes long, and sort of a taste of things to come from the two, who have planned to also release a full-length down the road. Oh yeah, I suppose I should talk about the actual release now.
Musically, the EP traverses quite a bit of ground over the fairly modest running length while at the same time not veering too much tonally. It opens with intersecting patterns of filtered tones (one of which sounds like bells, the other like data-crunched guitar) before the two elements slowly melt into one dense wall before splintering out the other side again. After a repetitive tone flickers over a feedback drone, it drops off for a slight moment, only to build and break down into squelched bits of data. Over the course of the track, the duo repeats this process several times, focusing on more harsh elements at certain points while lofting pillowy clouds of ambience at others.
Upon first listen, it's one of those strange releases that doesn't seem to reveal a whole lot new, simply because digital processing has been pushed so far by so many people over the course of the past couple years. At times, it sounds like something that could have been spit out of any number of laptop fiddlers, but at times (like during the near-brilliant final five minutes) it really does sound like some next-level electronic music created by a couple well-renowned artists. Given that this was a live performance and their full-length will possibly be more "composed," here's hoping for an even higher level of overall quality on it.