Lino Capra Vaccina – Metafisiche Del Suono (2017)
Note: This is a modified and expanded version of text, originally published by SoundOhm
When addressing work of the percussionist and composer Lino Capra Vaccina, it’s almost impossible to avoid lofty, souring statements of devotion and praise. He is a near perfect emblem of Italy’s lasting legacies of avant-garde practice, and a singular voice with its extraordinary movement of musical Minimalism. Vaccina first gained note during the early 1970’s as a member of Aktuala, a project which laid the groundwork for a entire generation who following in their wake – creating a hybrid of rock, avant-garde, and ancient musics, incorporating a diverse number of sonic traditions from across the globe – African, Middle Eastern, Indian, etc. Over the last forty years, his career as composer has been marked by two distinct features, an incredibly high bar of quality and ambition, and a tragically slim amount of recorded output. Following his departure from Aktuala, he worked extensively with others – Juri Camisasca, Franco Battiato, etc, and within the short lived super group Telaio Magnetico, but his solo efforts have been slow to emerge, appearing as carefully considered statements which are so remarkable and singular, that they pull the rug from beneath the entire world of experimental approach. In 1978 he privately released his first LP, entitled Antico Adagio, which would gain legendary status with the passing years, remaining the sole offering by the composer until 1992’s equally extraordinary L’Attesa, again followed by more silence.
When glancing over Vaccina’s recorded output, like many of the more ambitious members of the 1960’s and 70’s avant-garde, it’s easy to spot the fortifying presence of a new generation’s interest. In 2014 Die Schachtel issued Frammenti Da Antico Adagio, the long neglected second half of the recordings intended to be released on Antico Adagio, rapidly followed in 2015 by Arcaico Armonico, the first solo effort of new works by the composer to be issued since 1992, on Dark Companion. Early this year Die Schachtel issued Echi Armonici Da Antico Adagio, an LP of further recordings from the Antico Adagio sessions, and now before us we have Metafisiche Del Suono, the latest installment in Vaccina’s astounding cannon of work, returning once again on Dark Companion. In three short years, we’ve been treated to more material than any other point in the last forty, every moment as stunning as the next, sculpting a vision of the composer as among the most important of those working today.
In moments like these, it’s worth taking a momentary step back. We live in an era of reappraisal and resurrection, pulling countless neglected albums and artists from former eras into the present day, offering long overdue attention and praise. While noble, worthy, and great, this movement often carries the paradox of historical fetishism – its interest focused on efforts which come with the validations of context and the passage of time. To vary degrees of consciousness, we’ve all witnessed this again and again – reissues met with resounding praise, gobbled up, while contemporary efforts by their creators are met with the same indifference with which the earlier (now reissued) work was initially faced. Sadly, I expect this will be the defaulting fate of Metafisiche Del Suono, an album which is elegance and constraint personified – a crown jewel in a remarkable composer’s long career.
Metafisiche Del Suono is among those rare albums which is defined by its silences – what is said by the unsaid, as much as it is by interventions of resonance, texture, and tone. Like all of Vaccina’s work, it rests in an undefinable realm, defying definition and category. The product of decades of focus and investigation, it is a body of music from a higher plane – the transcendence of art through sound.
Across Metafisiche Del Suono’s six compositions, unfold expanses of ambience – sheets of sound – physic wonders, which, while feeling entirely singular and personal, mange to crystallize a confounding range of human emotion and experience. Largely executed by the composer on a range of instruments – vibraphone, chimes, bells, various percussion, piano, strings, gong, and metallophone, the album also features remarkable contributions on oboe and English horn by Camillo Mozzoni, psaltery, dulcimer, guitar, and autoharp by Michael Tanner, and viola by Alison Cotton, on a handful of its works, vastly broadening the world of tonal interplay set forth by the composer.
An unquestionable a high point with in Vaccina’s long and remarkable career. Metafisiche Del Suono is a reminder of the power which comes with sustained ambition – depths which take decades to explore. Astoundingly beautiful and challenging – a consuming cry from unknown realms, standing among my favorite releases this year. Both the vinyl and CD editions are available in limited editions, so check it out below and grab it fast from Dark Companion, SoundOhm, or a record store near you.
Lino Capra Vaccina – Metafisiche Del Suono (2017)