There are many presumptive angles from which Sei Ritornelli, the fascinating new record by Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Jonas Kocher and Luca Venitucci, might be misjudged, not the least of which would be considering it a record by an accordion trio. It is, but that knowledge might raise either sentiments or hackles, depending on one's associations with the instrument. Either way, the concern would be misguided.
Other likely misapprehensions might include: thinking that it fits too squarely into the minimalist improv mode that Potlatch, the label that released it, frequently falls into; indeed, thinking that the pointillistic star map design of the cover promises something Spartan and neo-classical; thinking that the name of the band — 300 Basses — applies to the music in any discernible way; or even, upon listening to the first of the six tracks (or choruses, as the title — in Italian — frames it) thinking that the rest of the tracks will follow suit.
In fact the final of those useful-only-by-example-of-omission suggestions hints at what is so fascinating about the six choruses that make up Sei Ritornelli. The 10˝ minute opener is as ethereal as the air inside the instruments' bellows, bringing to mind the vogue of internal sound-making among the more outré of current horn players. It's not uncommon for experimental audio artists to set an agenda and work strictly within its constructs. But 300 Basses sets six agendas and explores each concisely. After the opener, the group launches into a fascinating eight minute feedback montage. That's followed by a wonderful five-minute exercise in repetition with the most accordion-y sounds on the album. The next 10 minutes are almost animalistic in their noisiness, followed by 15 minutes (over the final two tracks) of near-drones.
Thinking about what can be done with an instrument that hasn't been done already is a common strategy in experimental improvisation, but 300 Basses goes beyond that. The trio faces six very different self-imposed challenges in a brisk 48 minutes, making for a wonderfully rewarding listen.
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