Despite the omission of Valerio Tricoli’s name on the cover of Thomas Ankersmit’s Live in Utrecht, Forma II sounds like a proper sequel to that 2010 release. There, Ankersmit employed tapes composed by Tricoli, mixing them with his live saxophone and electronic manipulations to form one of the year’s best drone and improvisation albums. But as opposed to his passive presence on Live in Utrecht, Tricoli’s role in Forma II is far more active, pushing the duo’s sound into territories unexplored on their formative release.
While Live in Utrecht and Forma II focus on the relationship between live performance and pre-/post-production, both yielding equally compelling results, the sonic rhetoric of each differ. Live in Utrecht found Ankersmit reinterpreting concrete sources, enacting the live performance as re-appropriation and rebirth. Forma II once again finds Ankersmit augmenting Tricoli’s pre-composed tapes, but these sets were subject to significant post-production and dubbing. The album could then be seen as an extension of the ideas built upon during the Utrecht affair, with an emphasis placed on the post-, not pre-, production done by Ankersmit and Tricoli.
Both Ankersmit and Tricoli have an interest in aural deformation, but Tricoli’s resonates strongest on Forma II. As described in Pan’s press release, Tricoli has a “radical interest in how reality, virtuality and memory relate to each during the acoustic event.” And indeed, this description best captures the prominent process at work here. Although neither I nor most were present at the sessions between 2008 and 2010 during which the album was recorded, these five pieces offer the listener the possibility to contemplate not only how they sounded in situ, but also the filters through which the duo are presenting the refurbished sounds.
Each piece sounds layered and synthesized; the post-production plaster is just discernible. “Takht-e Tâvus,” the track most similar to Live in Utrecht’s highlights, is an incandescent drone of over-dubbed saxophones, as well as an array of electronic editing I couldn’t begin to distinguish. The piece invites awareness of its origins through the clarity of sax dubs yet nonetheless confounds with its electronic components, simultaneously generating and distorting an acoustic reality.
While Live in Utrecht largely comprised a sole drone and the dynamics surrounding it, Forma II is segregated into five distinct pieces that can be appreciated independent of one another. As such, they stand apart as unique releases, both with much to say and full of resplendent sounds.