Mem1 + Stephen Vitiello: Age of Insects
Listeners familiar with the respective works of Mem1 (the cello-and-electronics-based duo of Mark and Laura Cetilia, whose fourth full-length album, Tetra, recently appeared on their Estuary Ltd. label) and electronic artist Stephen Vitiello (currently on the faculty of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University) will already have some idea of what to expect from their collaborative effort Age of Insects: highly textured electro-acoustic sound sculpting of the micro-detailed kind. That that turns out to be the case won't diminish the recording for such listeners, as they'd presumably have it no other way.
The recording's seven pieces (all of them titled after extinct insects) grew out of visits the Cetilias made to Vitiello's Richmond, Virginia studio between May 2009 and January 2010 that involved the three improvising and working with analog electronics, field recordings, digital manipulation, and instrument sounds (Laura's cello most notably) to produce the recording's fifty-seven minutes. Sounding as much like deep space transmissions as anything else, “Ektatotricha” immerses the listener within an ultra-detailed universe of insectoid warble, flutter, sputter, and chirp, and so too do the recording's other settings. Smears of grainy sound and gaseous emissions dominate “Protophasma”; “Vosila,” on the other hand, embeds the skeletal creak of Laura's cello within a crackle-infested spectral drone, resulting in an appealing marriage of natural and electronic sonorities that characterizes Mem1's work as a whole. Though the material generally hews to a low level of volume and unfolds with patient deliberation, there's nevertheless an ample amount of activity in play at any given moment moment (never more so than during the long-form closer “Electrinocellia”). Post-production and editing were kept to a minimum so as to preserve the natural interactions that occurred during the trio's sessions together, and the material truly does sound like material being created in the moment, with the individuals involved telepathically engaged in a symbiotic creative endeavour. The recording is available in an edition of 200 copies so fans of Mem1 and Vitiello would be wise to investigate the project sooner than later.