Luigi Archetti Low Tide Digitals II (w/ Bo Wiget)

[Rune Grammofon; 2005]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: avant garde, experimental electronica, abstract minimalism, noise improv
Others: Kevin Drumm, Sachiko M, Merzbow, Throbbing Gristle

Low Tide Digitals II is the long-awaited follow-up and companion piece to Rune Grammofon's widely acclaimed 2001 release Low Tide Digitals (natch), the debut collaboration from Luigi Archetti and Bo Wiget. Archetti, an Italian-born guitarist, composer and seasoned multi-media artist, has been a resident of Switzerland for over 30 years, while Wiget, a lifelong native of Switzerland, is a composer, programmer, and classically-trained cellist. Both artists have an extensive background in experimental improvisational music, and each has also played in a series of psychedelic and otherwise rock-based bands. Furthermore, it's worth mentioning that the two were the first non-Norwegians on the Rune Grammofon label's roster. Though both Wiget and Archetti are accomplished musicians, it's been stated by the artists that they use their instruments on the Low Tide Digitals series as "noise sources"; eschewing their natural sounds in favor of digitally and acoustically manipulated tones. Low Tide Digitals II is even further evidence that there is apparently no end to the string of envelope-pushing and technically innovative records being issued by the illustrious Norwegian label.

On their 2005 release, Archetti and Wiget have created an album that serves as a happy medium between the two types of music for which Rune Grammofon is most commonly recognized: experimental minimal electronic and moody traditional music with a postmodern sheen. Low Tide Digitals II contains enough experimentation and surprises in these atmospheric soundscapes to keep the listener on her toes, while still adhering to the fundamental characteristics of Scandinavian minimalist electronic music. Experimental though it may be, however, repeated listens to Low Tide Digitals II betray the fact that this album is considerably more conventional than it initially appears. Unlike the more brazenly experimental releases from the Rune Grammofon catalogue, the record has plenty of melody and classical musicianship to be found amidst its more improvisational leanings, particularly in the form of Wiget's masterful cello playing. Yes, the record contains traces of the usual microtonal meanderings that are endemic to so many Norwegian electronic releases, but Low Tide Digitals II is a record that demands the listener's attention, challenging her to mentally deconstruct the music, separating it into its constituent, often baroquely melodic elements.

Like they did on their debut release, Archetti and Wiget have chosen to list their tracks as a series of pieces or movements ("Stück 12"-"Stück 23") that, together, form a cohesive, single work. Additionally, Low Tide Digitals II, to an even greater extent than its predecessor, weds high frequency electronics to extremely low frequency sub-bass rumbles on many of the tracks. A good example of this juxtaposition of high and low frequency tones is evident on "Stück 17," a vertigo-inducing piece that sounds even more maddeningly disorientating on headphones. This time around, the highs seem higher, the lows seem lower, and overall, it's simply a more expansive record. Archetti and Wiget have moved even further away from acoustic instrumentation, though buried deep within the electronic dissonance is the occasional melancholy musical phrase. But on the whole, Low Tide Digitals II shows the duo having processed their source material to an even more unrecognizable extent. Archetti's guitar and Wiget's cello seem pushed, nay tortured to their harmonic limits. At times the middle ranges seem to have been squeezed out of the music entirely. There is also a more distinct emphasis on electronic programming and synthetic sounds on their newest outing, producing the general effect that Low Tide Digitals II is a more self-consciously extreme effort.

1. Stück 12
2. Stück 13
3. Stück 14
4. Stück 15
5. Stück 16
6. Stück 17
7. Stück 18
8. Stück 19
9. Stück 20
10. Stück 21
11. Stück 22
12. Stück 23

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