Italian composer Dario Buccino is obsessed with an incredibly strange and unique tool to make music/ sound from. Steel. It’s an obsession that more than likely stems from hearing the sounds of thunder from radio plays or theatre performances during childhood and he creates the music on this one DVD, one cd set by beating large thin sheets of steel. What’s interesting is the range of tones he can obtain, based on where he hits it, how he hits it or what implement or part of the body he uses. With only one instrument you’d think that the cd, without the visual context would face the danger of being too similar, yet he’s achieved such mastery over this unique instrument that he’s able for example to isolate and reduce the attack on the lower end frequencies or make each hit reverberate emphasising the mids. Whatever he likes. It’s most effective such as on III where he begins softly with the low end rumbling before increasing in volume and frequency to a crescendo only to dip away again. It’s like an intense evil monster was coming for you and only veered away, narrowly missing you at the last minute. The audio pieces are obscure sound pieces, quite experimental, non musical, at times a series of abrupt gestures which even include voice. In fact the suite is a composition for steel sheets, voices and plasterboard walls and some of the things he does with his voice is truly remarkable, these non verbal wails sounding like nothing I’ve ever heard before. It’s also quite composed despite some degree of improvisation. Buccino having developed a notion system for this curious device. He’s even given instructions on how to best listen to his music. In short he suggests to listen to it on a very high volume, even using the 7th track as a means of determining whether the album is being played the way Buccino intended.
On the accompanying DVD disc during an interview he speaks of wanting to create “hypnotic excitement and numbness,” two states of being that he views integral in altering consciousness. The disc also contains a busking session where he encourages volunteers to have a crack themselves, and excerpts from some live performances, demonstrating his virtuosic range on this peculiar instrument. “It’s very odd how he disregards harmony,” comments an excited percussionist, as we go behind the scenes to view how this extraordinary work was put together.
This is the kind of single minded, maybe slightly insane dedication to his craft that we want our composers to possess, with Buccino earnestly devoting himself to one of the most curious and bizarre sound practices I’ve seen in a while and becoming something of a virtuoso in the process.
Bob Baker Fish