TU M': Just One Night

Had provocateurs Rossano Polidoro and Emiliano Romanelli lived eighty years ago, they might have been dada figures performing alongside Hugo Ball at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, Switzerland (it's hardly coincidental that in 1998 the Città Sant' Angelo duo christened themselves TU M' in honour of Marcel Duchamp's last painting and that Mr. Mutt, the name of their CD-label, also references Duchamp). Just as they would have adapted with consummate ease to the collage strategies of the earlier era's designers and artists, so too do Polidoro and Romanelli evidence a similar mischievous bent in their current work. Yet while the experimental spirit is very much alive on Just One Night, TU M' parlays it into a rather sober and melancholic travelogue that begins in the afternoon and extends through the night before ending the next morning.

Song titles clearly suggest a programmatic dimension. The opener “An Afternoon in the Country,” for example, presents a jaunty wonderland of tinkles and pulsating hiccups, while the closer, “The First Rays of the Sun,” awakens to bright guitar flutter. Night-time pieces like “Lonely as a Cloud” and “The Moon on the Sea” are meditative by comparison, with fragments of alto sax, flute, toy keyboards, flugelhorn, and harmonica looped, processed, and edited into somnambulant ‘scapes. Exhibiting an especially strong talent for transmuting acoustic sounds using digital tools, TU M' turns a jazzy fragment of acoustic bass, piano sprinkles, and drum brushes into meditative stutter (“Blue Blur”) and slices acoustic guitar strums into glitchy skips that recall Oval (“Strange Sleep”). While only tangentially dada-like, Just One Night nonetheless impresses as a memorable nocturnal excursion.

October 2005