Carlos Giffoni Adult Life

[No Fun; 2008]

Styles: electronic, noise
Others: early Tangerine Dream, early Cluster

The opening minutes of Carlos Giffoni’s 2008 album Adult Life begin with a grainy synth drone, which is elaborated on with the addition of another synth to create a pulsing, rhythmic element to the piece. From somewhere in the background, another instrument appears that sounds not unlike a rubber band being stretched out and played like a guitar string. This is gradually foregrounded and then subtracted completely in place of letting the remaining synths continue to shift back and forth against one another, like the slow grinding of tectonic plates.

The next track, “Comfort and Pleasure,” uses a similar tactic, beginning with one synth and adding a low, whooping bass figure. Space noises straight out of The Jetsons play in a circular pattern, looping from left to right speaker and back again before disappearing. At the end, Giffoni drops it all in favor of the bass figure, which seems to repeat ad nauseum. The results are something like a far less enjoyable version of early works by Tangerine Dream and Cluster.

The pattern in song structure I described above is either repeated exactly or in some variation on all three of the remaining tracks. With not much in the way of development or interaction, most tracks are made up of little more than two or three distinct parts that play alongside one another in the stereo field for varying durations before being eliminated. It isn’t until the fourth track, “This Is How You Pull the Trigger,” that the listener is treated to a familiar blast of white noise. Indeed, the curtain has been pulled back on his signature synth-noise in an effort to reveal more basic textures, but they end up sounding more like the starting points for the aesthetics of previous albums such as Arrogance or Welcome Home.

Consequently, Adult Life is sure to be pegged as Carlos Giffoni’s “minimal” album. I don’t expect that he wants to continue making vicious noise albums for the entirety of his career, but I was expecting something a little more involved. While minimalism can be a wonderful way for artists working with "pure sound" to challenge themselves, Giffoni doesn’t take full advantage of that here. It isn’t a bad work, per se -- some will certainly find it engaging -- but it isn’t among the hallmarks of his catalog. Hopefully it’s just the starting point of another avenue for him to explore.

1. The Endless Mirror
2. Comfort and Pleasure
3. A Son With No Father
4. This Is How You Pull the Trigger
5. A Permanent Choice

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