Giuseppe Ielasi Giuseppe Ielasi

[Häpna; 2006]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: electro-acoustic improvisation, avant-garde
Others: Renato Rinaldi, Alessandro Bosetti, Tape, Annette Krebs

In the world of experimental guitarists, Giuseppe Ielasi's fundamental identity is not tethered as tightly to his instrument as those of other artists of his caliber. The electro-acoustic frames he creates — patchworks of looped percussion, sampled stringed instruments, tape hiss — leave as deep an imprint as the six-string improvisations that color them. In fact, on this release (his second for Häpna), Ielasi's guitar work is not often recognizable as such, aside from perhaps the raga drones that open the record. Otherwise, the guitar tones are so translucent and weightless that you could easily mistake them for keys, synths, or electronic effects. The most crisp and recognizable notes come from acoustic instruments or samples thereof: steel drums, trumpet, and upright bass flavor the album more than guitar.

Ielasi's use of folk instrumentation places this record close to the most recent work of fellow traveler Ekkehard Ehlers in both technique and effect. Ehlers's A Life Without Fear runs blues and jazz improvisations through a Ted Macero-esque series of calculated studio edits, replacing human error and highly physical group playing with smoothness or at least a smoother, controlled roughness. This album relies less heavily on lengthy jams, as almost everything except Ielasi's guitar is looped, but there's the same sense of raw, kinetic energy being harnessed, retransmitted, contained. And like all of Ehler's albums, this self-titled outing remains very accessible, despite its avant-garde underpinnings. Cinematic and tonally pleasing enough for most Sigur Rós or My Bloody Valentine fans, this album demands an audience beyond those who would most concern themselves with its theoretical or technical elements.

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