Giuseppe Ielasi
Untitled, 2011
CD (E129)

Produced in Spring/Summer 2011

See also
Bellows (E128)
Out of print

Interview with Tokafi (April 2012)

Edition of 350 copies
Out of print

Reviews (in Portuguese)

Giuseppe Ielasi used to be known as an experimental
guitarist. If that statement were ever even true, it is
surely false now. Over the last decade plus of work,
starting with Plans in 2003, Ielasi has made a string
of beguiling, unclassifiable solo albums that have very
little to do with the guitar and even less to do with
improvising, two approaches he’s often associated with.
While the guitar does figure on some of his recordings
(such as his two releases on Häpna), on his most recent
work it’s barely present at all. His Stunt series focuses
exclusively on combining pulse and micro-sampling for
a raw, live feel, while on his 15 Tapes series he invest-
igates the textural and rhythmic possibilities of reel-to-
reel tape recorders.

Untitled, 2011 is a solo outing that feels like an
extension of the Stunt pieces, as pulse and samples
are again at the fore, but now the sound is more
diffuse, less about rhythmic push-and-pull and more
about hypnosis and gradual unraveling of reference
points. Loops with long periods overlap, intersect and
then separate. There’s plenty of air between the
notes, leaving room for both slow and quick pacing,
and space for Ielasi to introduce a huge variety of
near-inscrutable sources: field captures, voices,
slurred horns, screwed and chopped strings, metallic
percussion, all thickened by mounds of tape hiss and
other ambient noises.

Ielasi focuses listening by, somewhat perversely,
distracting you from the sounds. In the brief sleeve
notes, he recommends a moderate playback volume,
which only makes his collage of altered sounds all
the more puzzling. It’s as if by pushing the sounds
toward the periphery of perception and then muting
their presence, he’s heightening our awareness.
We hear more by hearing less. All the bits of scrab-
bling percussion, swirling concrète samples (Medical
devices? Supermarket check-out readers? Some-
thing more mundane?) and chiming, bell-like tones
emerge separately and equally. Nothing is back-
ground and everything is.

Matthew Wuethrich at Dusted

The pieces here start as measured, almost austere
repetitions of tones and textures that are gradually
added to by layers of sound — traces of noise, faint
wisps of other musics, the crackle of dusty records.
These are collections of concrete sounds, some tonal,
some familiar from the fringes of electronic music,
but what is masterful here is the way the tracks
retain a sense of space and depth throughout —
the spaces and silences in the gaps between repeats
and layers of activity, and the depth created by the
placement of the sounds in the stereo field.
Play this “at moderate volume”, as the [liner] notes
instruct us to, and the level of detail and spacious-
ness in these recordings is amplified. Play this on
headphones, and some of the sounds will have you
reaching round the back of your skull, looking for
the speaker embedded there.
The album gradually moves from sparse studies
to more grainy textural pastures – track seven is
invaded half way through by clusters of clicks and
throbs that almost have a shuffle — perhaps the
clearest link here to earlier works like Aix, though
these are studies in restraint — Ielasi is content
to let the sounds slowly accumulate over minutes,
and many of the pieces simply fade out without
ever feeling rushed — less immediately rhythmic
that Aix, less frenetic than Tools, Untitled, 2011
creates simplicity and calm out of the complexity
of electroacoustic and concrète textures.
The ringing radiophonic tones of track four and
the marimba-esque loops of the following track,
allied to squelches and resonating ‘cut bell’ sounds,
suggest an almost ‘classic’, Pierre Schaeffer-in-
1948 approach to musique concrète, and while
record crackles might hint at some of the
sources for this material, Untitled, 2011 has to
be approached solely in terms of its mastery of
assemblage, form and the sound world it proposes.

John Boursnell at Fluid Radio

There are eight tracks here, each of them utilising
really quite beautiful arrangements of varied samples.
We hear everything from what sounds like a needle
skipping on a vinyl groove to animal calls to various
percussive instruments, pipe organs and probably
none of those things at all. For each of the pieces
these sounds are arranged in slowly looping struc-
tures that grow and retract as they progress. The
urge to describe the music as the aural equivalent
of a children’s kaleidoscope is too strong to dismiss.
That’s exactly what these works feel like, a kind
of clockwork tumbling of sounds rotating slowly,
knocking against each other, setting off vaguely
hypnotic patterns. Its all very slow, and (thankfully
for me) there is no sense of a beat here, no
attempt to create anything even close to dance-
able, but certainly a continual sense of motion,
albeit a dizzily circular one.

The dilemma for me then, is that, oddly, what I
really like about this music, the way that the broad
scope of different sounds tip and slide against one
another probably wouldn’t be possible in quite the
same way if the rhythmic element to the music
wasn’t there. In fact, this music just couldn’t really
work at all without the churning pulse, which is
the glue that holds it all together and keeps the
music from just existing as a series of disparate
elements. So I do enjoy this album. A big part of
me really wants to hear a new solo album by Ielasi
without the rhythmic form, as I suspect it would
be something I would enjoy immensely, but Untitled,
2011 still sounds very fine to these ears, a kind of
gently rocking, yes even soothing pulse yet full of
sparkling, vibrant detail.

Richard Pinnell at The Watchful Ear

lelasi’s Stunt trilogy contained some of the strongest
work of his career. As did 2010’s 15 Tapes, Untitled
2011 extrapolates on it cleverly. Fragments and indi-
vidual sounds — muted synth blurts, needle-on-vinyl
scratches, snippets of what might be field recordings
— are delicately worked into looping patterns and
quizzical collages, which lelasi subtly tweaks and
tinkers with. Most are lightly dusted with analogue
hiss, creating fragile ambiences imbued with just the
right amount of volatility. His ear for sound relation-
ships and textural contrasts remains as sharp as
ever. It's not all warm glow, though. The sixth track
(all eight are untitled) stretches what I’d guess are
samples of Improv trombone into a discordant

Nick Cain in The Wire

The eight unmarked tracks were produced in Spring/
Summer 2011 and, much like [Ielasi’s] other work,
would appear to be concerned with the minutiae and
textured infidelities of the recording process as much
as they are with quietly reflective melody and tiny,
fractured rhythms. We're not given any hints to the
provenance of the source material; it may be vintage
shellac, guitars, synths, and/or field recordings —
at a guess all of the above and more — and that’s
probably, purposefully, part of this sound's enigmatic
appeal. But what really gets us about Giuseppe’s work,
and this one in particular, is the way he renders those
sounds, creating nano-fine layers of dusty space in
their cracks and allowing the detritus to organically
seep forth, enriching the atmosphere with an almost
supernatural presence. And for all the experimental
techniques and minimalist aesthetic, there's a real
warmth and soul to his music which is far from
academic and while certainly not pop, it's got evolv-
ing structures and arrangements which spell out
hypnotic tales more intriguing and involving than
most folk who operate at this depth and quietude.