Italian guitarist/composer Giuseppe Ielasi is unquestionably one of my favorite musicians from the past several years. His collaboration with Renato Rinaldi, titled Oreledigneur, was one of my favorite albums of 2004. He showed that improvised music, if done attentively, could possess a sort of tangible quality that is often lacking in improvised music. Nevertheless, it's this attribute and Ielasi's careful attention to detail that make his work valid and worthy of perusal.
As a prolific electro-acoustic improviser, Ielasi has spent a good portion of his time in both the collaborative and soloist environments, but his latest release, Gesine, finds him returning as a solo performer to offer up his first bit of material on the Swedish Häpna label. Gesine fits in well with the other artists on Häpna (see Stephan Mathieu, Sagor & Swing, and Tape) and suggests once again that the quality of their releases just keep getting better with each successive year.
With Gesine, Ielasi utilizes only two instruments, guitar and drums. However, upon closer inspection, we see that he has taken these instruments and electronically enhanced them to incorporate a sub-level of sound and texture, including beautiful drones and ethereal soundscapes. The true life of the songs come after this enhancement; but even if these songs were left in their organic state, I'd still be willing to bet they'd be nothing short of captivating.
The first track is a simple acoustic performance that has been given extra life with a gentle ringing of electro-acoustic guitar drones and a few obscured cymbals hidden beneath the surface. The pace of the track gives it a daydream effect that shows Ielasi's ability to make music that is unobtrusive for the listener. Quickly after this, the second track, which is also the longest and most distinctive, takes us in a much darker direction. Its main focus is on a dense drone that moves leisurely along while subtle noises and guitar plucks are lushly positioned around it.
Throughout the rest of the album, we hear songs that are similar to the first track and less like the second. That is until we are met with a high-pitched tone on the fifth track, which coincidentally enough, lacks the depth of the others. The fluidity of the album can only be marred by this slight variance, which if left off, might make Gesine come a bit closer to having a more cohesive result. With that said, though, the basic concept is the same throughout the album, and Gesine never ceases to impress, nor does Ielasi circumvent his abilities to force his songs along.
Once again, subtlety is the key factor with Ielasi's work, which ultimately shows him in true form. With his already impressive catalog, including collaborative works from other artists on his Bowindo and Fringes labels, I expect to hear many more amazing albums in the future from this great contributor to the Italian electro-acoustic movement. And as long as Ielasi continues to hone his improvisations while acknowledging the materiality of the instruments, I can't see him doing wrong any time soon.