Lucio Capece est un monstre. Son premier album solo, après d'innombrables collaborations - Lee Patterson, Toshimaru Nakamura, Birgit Uhler, ou encore Chris Abrahams - est monstrueux. Au dos du disque, la liste des instruments, monstrueuse, effraie : shruti box (une espèce d'harmonium), soprano saxophone with preparations, ring modulator, double plugged equalizer, bass clarinet, sine waves, cardboard tubes, … On reste sceptique. Le premier titre démarre, et on la boucle. Si, dans ses collaborations, toujours teintées de drones acoustique, la présence de Capece est toujours furtive et fantomatique, l'espace qu'il peut ainsi occuper en solo, est peut être ce qui lui convient le mieux : sa discrétion et ses silences font exploser sa présence. Les longs drones hypnotiques à la shruti box sont tout bonnement magnifiques, et là où on pourrait craindre la rupture, la longue pièce au saxophone préparé arrive à créer, on ne sait comment, une continuité (oui!), dans les tons, les ondulations, à tel point qu'il apparaît (le disque) comme une espèce de progression, en témoignent les titres plus électroniques, la trilogie Inside the Outside, franchement plus frontale, épaisse, massive. Là où Capece ne réalise pas un disque de drone de plus, c'est qu'il arrive, encore une fois sans tout à fait savoir comment, à transformer l'ensemble en long poème, en opposition avec le cérébralisme exacerbé des productions du style, un poème fait de respiration, de souffle, de chuchotements, de bruissements, de murmures. Transformer la matière sonore en peinture pour enfant, la pâte à modeler en œuvre d'art : ce n'est pas tant un voyage qu'une altération des capacités de raisonnements, la concentration sur un point de l'horizon qui semble bouger, mais qui en réalité ne bouge pas. Ce disque n'est pas immersif, il est hallucinant.
Saïmone l Guts of Darkness l Août 2012
Troisième disque de ce créateur apparaissant dans les colonnes de Revue & Corrigée. La première fois, il s’agissait en 2007 d’une aventure en trio avec Axel Dörner et Robin Hayward ; la seconde, en 2009, lors d’une confrontation avec Sergio Merce. J’aime écouter ce nouveau disque, et j’aurai pourtant beaucoup de mal à dire pourquoi. Il recèle cette dimension indéfinissable issue d’une technologie mixte où les instruments à vent alternent leurs interventions avec les générateurs d’ondes, en toute tranquillité. Six pièces et autant de climats qui se complètent, s’interpellent. Hildegard von Bingen est convoquée dans les notes de pochette avec un texte sublime sur la lumière. Cette position mystique semble correspondre aux intentions de Lucio Capece. Il n’y a qu’une solution : se laisser porter par cette masse molle et puissante, ces longues vagues. La musique industrielle du futur, assurément, avec tensions parfaitement maîtrisées, un certain romantisme aussi. Post-industrielle, alors ? Quoi qu’il en soit, très belle réalisation.
Dino l Revue & Corrigée l Juillet 2012
Lucio Capece. Premier enregistrement solo. Une surprise considérable, un disque majeur.
Tout commence avec une pièce relativement courte pour shruti box (Some move upward uncertainly): plusieurs bourdons se superposent durant une lente nappe minimaliste ponctuée de rares évènements. Les notes s'emmêlent en un accord harmonieux ou se frottent en une sensible et délicate dissonance. Mais l'écoute reste agréable et le temps semble comme suspendu par cette courte introduction à une suite qui nous réserve encore pas mal de surprises. Parallèlement à cette pièce, on trouve sur la cinquième piste une pièce qui peut faire écho, Spectrum of one, de la même durée et également pour un seul instrument, les ondes sinusoïdales. Moins linéaire, celle-ci nous plonge dans un territoire ouvert où les sinsinusoïdes de différentes fréquences sont entrecoupées par des silences. Une pièce simple, belle, reposante, qui s'insère dans une sous-totalité assez monumentale, et amène parfaitement à conclure ce solo.
Mais reprenons dans l'ordre, la suite, c'est tout d'abord Zero plus zero, une pièce pour saxophone soprano avec préparations. Une pièce peut-être moins minimale et radicale dans la simplicité et l'utilisation du silence, où les notes s'évanouissent dans des souffles auxquels répondent des préparations motorisées et métalliques, activées ou non par le saxophone, ce qui la rend plus extrême par contre dans les textures réductionnistes utilisées. Il s'ensuit une confusion étonnante entre un instrument acoustique et des objets industriels, une confusion entre des bruits très sensibles, qui ne ressemblent à rien, joués très doucement et avec poésie. Une poésie de l'espace et du temps, qui produit un espace sonore surprenant et singulier au sein d'un temps étendu et linéaire, sans être lisse pour autant, dans la mesure où ce temps est tout de même divisé en plusieurs parties et toujours ponctué d'évènements minimalistes. Un voyage étonnant à travers des paysages inouïs et poétiques.
Vient ensuite une pièce divisée en trois parties (Inside the outside) qui se distinguent de par leur instrumentation, la plus longue, la plus riche, et la plus dense, mais qui fait tout de même pleinement partie de cette œuvre monumentale et épique. Faisons d'ailleurs la liste des instruments utilisés sur chaque partie: shruti box, double plugged equalizer, ring modulator, clarinette basse (corps du haut seulement), baladeurs cassette et MD pour la première partie; double plugged equalizers, tubes en carton préparés et amplifiés pour la deuxième; et clarinette basse avec et sans cartons préparés pour la dernière.
On commence avec un long bourdon, grave, dense et riche, sur lequel se greffent des phrases à la clarinette qui semble mourir ou se lamenter. Des pleurs graves, retentissants, puissants, dans un espace désert et lisse, froid mais organique. La linéarité du drone est constamment brisée et mise en relief par ces irruptions instrumentales où l'émotion des glissandos à la clarinette se confronte à la froideur du continuum sonore dans les graves. Une pièce puissante jusqu'aux ultimes gémissements de la clarinette, entrecoupés de silence durant la dernière minute. Une fois de plus, l'ambiance comme les textures ne ressemblent à rien et sont inattendues, cette première partie de presque vingt minutes, la meilleur pièce de ce disque à mon avis, a de quoi retourner n'importe quel amateur de musiques improvisées, de noise et de musique électroacoustique, aussi bien que tout amateur de Wandelweiser.
La deuxième partie de Inside the outside se base également sur un drone produit par le double plugged equalizer, un drone sur une fréquence très basse et instable, sans cesse modulée et toujours vivante, selon un rythme et des cycles qui semblent précisément prévus et calculés. Ce n'est qu'à la moitié de la pièce que des fréquences aiguës, stables et corrosives, pointent le bout de leur nez pour encore élargir la densité de ce volume sonore déjà extrêmement puissant. Une masse sonore dense et continue, toujours plus forte et puissante, qui s'arrêtera trop brutalement par des enregistrements de l'environnement avant de laisser place à deux pistes où la saturation n'a plus de place: Spectrum of one et Inside the outside III. Cette dernière, qui remplit les vingt dernières minutes de ce voyage d'une heure vingt, est une pièce beaucoup plus calme et silencieuse que les deux précédentes. Ici, Lucio répète des notes tirées du registre chalumeau de se clarinette basse et les mêle à son propre souffle, tout en les modulant en relâchant la pression des lèvres. L'ambiance est plutôt austère, mais le son chaleureux de l'ébène vient vite redonner de la couleur à cette pièce. La conclusion de cette suite demande peut-être pas mal d'attention et de disponibilité mais une fois qu'on les donne, le voyage devient excellent. Car une fois les répétitions amorcées, c'est un dialogue avec le silence qui commence à pointer et à entrecouper chaque évènement. Un silence qui devient de plus en plus fort à mesure que les répétitions sont monotones et minimales. Simultanément, un souffle active des tubes en carton et des notes aussi graves s'entremêlent. La confusion entre le carton et l'ébène règne, on n'arrive plus vraiment à se repérer à travers ces sons abyssaux répétés de manière mécanique et machinale, qui ne se démêlent que grâce au silence. Et comme avec les shruti box qui ouvraient le voyage, les sons se mêlent aussi bien harmonieusement qu'ils se frottent avec une délicate poésie. Petit à petit, les évènements se font de plus en plus courts, de plus en plus calmes et subtils, le silence prend de plus en plus de place, et enfin, le voyage proposé par Lucio peut prendre fin. Enfin, nous pouvons lentement sortir de cette œuvre monumentale et envoutante, complètement nouvelle et originale, magique et intense.
Ça faisait bien un an que je n'avais pas été aussi surpris et à ce point touché par un disque: Zero plus zero est juste une merveille, le résultat d'un travail de recherche et de composition fantastique! Évidemment hautement recommandé.
Julien Héraud l Improv Sphere l Mai 2012
Musicien d’origine argentine, installé à Berlin, Lucio Capece a aussi bien croisé les musiciens de la scène réductioniste (Toshimaru Nakamura, Axel Dörner, Radu Malfati…) que ceux de l’esthétique minimaliste (Kevin Drumm, Phill Niblock…)
C’est à un voyage dans le temps que nous invite Lucio Capece dans ce disque. Le temps de la technologie, d’abord, avec un panel d’instruments des plus simples aux plus avancés technologiquement. Quel point commun entre une Sruti Box – sorte d’harmonium rudimentaire utilisé dans la musique indienne – , un saxophone soprano ou une clarinette basse ou bien encore des equalizers et des sine waves ? Ce point commun est le temps justement, un temps étiré au maximum – jusqu’au maximum de la capacité d’un CD.
Ce disque nous permet de voyager dans le son, dans le bourdonnement, grave ou aigu, vibrant ou à la limite de l’audible. Chacune des six plages a sa propre couleur sonore, mais au bout de 78 minutes, on ressent un sentiment d’achèvement d’une construction à part entière, une tentative d’esthétique du drone, en se concentrant sur de micros-événements auxquels il donne relief et étendue (ce qui est finalement assez proche du travail de Phill Niblock). Des citations reproduites dans la pochette, je retiendrai celle de Durkheim comme étant la plus descriptive à mon sens de ce qui se joue ici :
“(…) nous sommes toujours dans un certain état de distraction, puisque l’attention, en concentrant l’esprit sur un petit nombre d’objets, le détourne d’un plus grand nombre d’autres (…)”
Freesilence's blog l Avril 2012
Si le premier coup d'œil au dos de la pochette de ce disque laisse craindre la dispersion (et tout particulièrement à la lecture de l'instrumentarium convoqué : « sruti box, soprano saxophone with preparations, ring modulator, double plugged equalizer, bass clarinet, sine waves, cardboard tubes », etc.), l'audition intégrale de l'enregistrement écarte cet écueil supposé ; mieux, elle convainc que, dans la conduite du projet solo de Lucio Capece – on a déjà apprécié le musicien aux côtés de Radu Malfatti, Sergio Merce, Lee Patterson ou dans le quartet SLW– cet attirail ne sert qu'à la continuation, par tous les moyens, d'une recherche originale.
Ainsi passe-t-on d'une pièce à l'autre sans perdre la cohérence du cheminement esthétique, atteignant des plateaux (de matières, de fréquences) successifs qui dessinent, au fil du disque, une progression assez fascinante : subtilement, Capece ménage des accès à ces états modifiés de concentration qui permettent de percevoir le son dans le son – et, pressent-on, peut-être aussi dans une sorte d'au-delà du son. Ondes à empreinte, jeux d'harmoniques longs jusqu'à l'hallucination, puissants drones à halo : un impressionnant travail !
Guillaume Tarche l Le son du Grisli l Avril 2012
Spent the last couple of days with this, the first solo CD by Capece (out over a year ago by now). A fine enough album for sure, six tracks exploring insidious nuances and powerful droning with technical cognition and good taste bathed in decency. You look at the instrumentation on the cover – more on that later – and perhaps can create the contents by mental act (well, reviews already exist so there is no actual surprise for those who are adequately curious).
Slowly shifting clusters fix the whole of Some Move Upward Uncertainly (For Harley Gaber); a sruti box’s renowned vibrancy is increased by a continual inherent undulation, harmonic precariousness generated by involuntary suspended 4th chords towards the end. The title track exploits a prepared soprano saxophone without the snore-inducing aspects of a large part of today’s reductionism; metallic ringing and rolling around (…within?) the sax’s bell, a sort of motorization obtained… heaven knows how, unvoiced (or distinctly audible) pitches and exhalations representing an endurable mix throughout, a welcome “water-ish” reverberation adding a different dimension to the sonic perspective.
Inside The Outside I introduces a “double plugged equalizer”, a ring modulator, the neck of a bass clarinet, cassette and Minidisc walkmans. The drones are interspersed with silences, the close throbbing still an aurally exciting lineament; a sense of unperturbed observation of the evolution of an existence materializes while listening, at least until the subsonic muscle grows: the humming becomes really sturdy, strange short curves are delineated by the reed in the meantime, progressively mutilated and dirtied.
Inside The Outside II is a compellingly hypnotic electronic study ending with beautiful echoes of “tuned backyard” (practically speaking, the environment’s circumstantial sounds captured through variously sized cardboard tubes), whereas Spectrum Of One is a roomy interlude for sine waves. The conclusive Inside The Outside III seals the envelope with possibly the most inward-looking music here: Capece’s bass clarinet – alone or, again, with artificial conduits – roams mysteriously in the realm of ultra-low frequencies and debilitated upper partials, rendered as if coming from the body of a giant whose pulmonary mechanisms are about to stop.
In spite of a length of almost 80 minutes, Zero Plus Zero never manages to bore or annoy an assimilative listener, its procedural correctitude and structural understandability the ultimate winning cards. Not an all-time masterpiece, but definitely a solid release.
Massimo Ricci l Touching Extremes l March 2013
I have a permanent challenge...to make alive, enjoyable music. We can have a strong tendency to fit too well in the separate boxes people are divided in...I think that our lives are more vast and beautiful than those boxes. Lucio Capece
Though there are many features in the dusty world, you see and understand only what your eye of practice can reach. In order to learn the nature of the myriad things, you must know that although they may look round or square, whole worlds are there. It is so not only around you but also directly beneath your feet, or in a drop of water.
In December of 2010, I wrote bout three duo projects Lucio Capece released in the prior two years with playing partners as varied as Lee Patterson, Radu Malfatti and Sergio Merce. The unitive principle in Capece's approach, as I heard it then, was his measuring out his sound, whatever the instrumentation, by breath-lengths. Capece's work on the bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, and the shruti box limned, laced and buoyed each duo, often serving as the meridian to which the music returned and settled. Whether sounding out the origin-point for his collaborators, or, as he does so brilliantly with Malfatti, disappearing into the whole, Capece has snuck onto my short list of current musicians (and high atop those who are principally reed players) who I want to hear, whatever the outing.
Earlier this year, Capece released Zero Plus Zero, going solo this time, as he has done increasingly the past couple of years in concert settings. Capece still metes out gorgeous drones with measured breaths, but Zero Plus Zero includes works concerned with spatiality and resonances of a different sort. While his instrumentation remains rigorously simple (a quality he says he admires in the work of Alvin Lucier), several pieces here use multi-tracked reeds, electronics and Capece's ongoing experiments with cardboard tubing as a filter and resonator, producing variegated tones and timbres that wobble and warp. Capece affects a lovely, oxymoronic unstable droneage, revealing a further development in his exploration of the effects of space, and our ears, on what we hear. His sound placement is impeccable, whether setting dual sine waves into woozy counterpoint, or thickening the rue of his low-fi electronics and shruti.
Referring to collaborating with others, Capece has said he considers whether to oppose, to disappear, to ignore, or to cover the other. These same choices obtain here, as Capece, an admirer of Barnett Newman, weaves his vibrant, vital lines in primary colors, drawing multiplicity from the simplest starting points, sometimes disappearing, sometimes opposing his own point of origin (check Inside the Outside I, in which a ring modulator, bass clarinet, and sundry other rising and falling pitches of alien origination circle each other in a continuous state of near-collision).
Capece is always about revealing the whole worlds that are there. Simplifying his materials, approaching music with an impressive acuity of listening, patience and openness, Capece makes alive music - it's in the room when the record ends, it's beneath your feet, and in a drop of water - it is like a hammer striking emptiness, before and after its exquisite peal permeates everywhere.
Jesse Goin l Crow with no mouth l November 2012
Clarinetist Lucio Capece has been a key contributor to a number of records over the last decade, a strong but spare voice in the area of music once called "reductionist" or "eai." Zero Plus Zero is a simply fantastic solo recording, which to my ears is similar in spirit and methodology to Marc Baron's triumphant Une Fois, Chaque Fois.
Like Mark Wastell, Rhodri Davies, Burkhard Beins, andothers in a roughly similar area of music, Capece now uses multiple sound generators to realize his vision. After the opening Some move upward uncertainly (where he uses a Sruti box to generate huge stack of tones midway between Charlemagne Palestine or Pauline Oliveros), the title track finds him expertly controlling breath and multiphonics, layering differently articulated tones at long intervals (some very close-miked to the point where feedback seems likely, others nearly disappearing, others deep wet gurgles inside the soprano) ar doing so with "applied objects used as preparations", like a wobbly top on a metal table or a marble rolling, inside an inverted cymbal.
With Inside the Outside I Capece returns to the Sruti box. But on this piece things get even thicker and more resonant (other instruments used for this effect include double plugged equalizer, ring modulator, bass clarinet neck, cassette and Minidisc walkmans) as a way of thickening the drone and expanding it, with a plunging low end and chiming bowed metal everywhere. But on all of these pieces there is considerable space and regular drop-offs, never simply suffocating sound. As an example, Capece uses one of these rests to dig into some mouthpiece glissing, peeking out from the low rumble Iike a coil of energy through the top of your skull, skirling up and down through mouthpiece, ring modulator, warp and woof and wood and whine.
Capece takes us even further into the abyss on Inside the Outside II where he pairs the equalizers with "tuned backyard recorded through cardboard tubes of differing dimensions)", ending with a quizzical section for what sounds like party chatter and hollow wood.
Spectrum of One is all sine waves (though it could easily pass for Capece's clarinet, that's how good he is), performed on the anniversary of the first photos taken from space. And Inside the utside III is for bass clarinet "with and without cardboard tubes". Its obsessive, minimalist worrying of an interval sounded at times to me like a solo version of Consume Red. As the piece fades with lonesome maritime bleats issuing from nowhere, my first thought is that 1 want to hear it all again.
Jason Bivins l Signal To Noise l October 2012
Though he has made quite a few recordings in various combinations with people like Radu Malfatti, Axel Dorner and Toshimaru Nakamura, this is Lucio Capece's first solo offering. Using his arsenal of prepared (or dismantled) reed instruments, sruti box, "double plugged equalizer" and cardboard tubes, Capece has constructed a set of beautiful and finely wrought drones.
The opening Some Move Upward Uncertainly is a solo workout on sruti box, a type of hand-pumped reed organ. The underlying drone has a rhythmic quality and there are a lot of strange, low pitched thumping sounds, presumably the instruments' bellows being pumped. An interesting study of movement within the seemingly static, and an apt opening gambit which lets us know what we're in for. The title track features an odd underbelly of metallic ringing that sounds like it could be the bell of the soprano sax played with a dowel, in the manner of a tibetan singing bowl. Over the top of this Capece lays breathy hisses that sometimes ramp up into low roars. Then a definite bell circumambulation starts up and gets modulated somehow, the timbre and pitch changing. Weird distorted notes are then piled on top, which bring about a startling interaction with the rubbed metal, the whole instrument vibrating violently, as if it may come apart in his hands. Mechanical sounding rattles enter and exit, more motorcycle than saxophone.
Inside The Outside, in three parts, is the richest piece here in terms of the number of sound sources. With the sruti box we get a series of chords which start and then stop, becoming more complex with each entering. Additional sounds are then added: a very low pitched thrumming throbs and engulfs most everything that comes after, making it difficult to tell exactly what's being played. The interactions of the various sounds here are fascinating: prop-plane fly-overs and sighing reeds, a rising and falling electronic-sounding buzz. A lot of attention and care have gone into the making of these recordings, and attention in listening will be rewarded.
Jeph Jerman l The Squid's Ear l September 2012
On his blog, Lucio Capece describes the motivation/process behind his composition Zero plus zero: “After several years of relating with pitched sounds as residual material they called my interest in a new way. I began to find interest in the hidden pitches in the noises and the noises hidden in the combination of pitched sounds.” This approach seems to guide Lucio’s release Zero Plus Zero, which contains an excerpt of the titular composition, on the Potlatch label.
And Capece, a veteran improviser/composer who has worked with the likes of Radu Malfatti, Kevin Drumm, Axel Dörner, and Toshimaru Nakamura, seems to realize that his insight transcends music. On the album’s cover is a diagram of two quantum channels, each with transmission capacity zero, which when combined form a channel with nonzero capacity. Here, Capece, if not directly, is invoking one of the most perplexing and popular statements in abstract mathematics, the Banach-Tarski Paradox. The proposition claims that one can deform a sphere of radius one into two separate spheres both with radii one. That is to say, it is possible to double mass, purely by rearranging particles, creating two out of one. Crucial to this statement is the existence of “sets with measure zero,” i.e., objects with no mass. Obviously, this result is highly counter-intuitive, and relies on the ever controversial (and popular) axiom of choice, but its baffling conclusion is fascinating, as well as somewhat instructive in understanding how pitches interact.
Therefore, one could think of noise and drone as negative, null space, zeroes, and the way musicians present these non-entities varies from artist to artist: as vacuous sounds (The New Blockaders), as carriers for the musician’s self (Prurient), as basic particles. Capece favors the latter, adding these zeroes together and deforming conventional sonic material to generate the new pitches out of the vacuum. On Zero Plus Zero, he does this with an ensemble of instruments (struti box, soprano saxophone, double-plugged equalizer, tuned backyard, ring modulator, etc.), creating drones aesthetically reminiscent of Eliane Radigue’s. In the series Inside the outside, for example, Capece clashes the tones of his reeded instruments with sine tones and his struti to form these new pitches in the liminal space.
All of this may sound rather simple, and in a sense it is. We’ve seen this phenomenon demonstrated in many forms, ranging from the tiring clangor of Rhys Chatham’s Guitar Trio (and its countless iterations) to the more subtle string interactions of, say, Nikos Veliotis’ Aceghd. In many ways, Capece’s process is the fundamental aspect of drone music. But there’s a charm to Capece’s formalism and to how he executes it with such an array of unconventional instruments. Zero Plus Zero is like a case study in why drone-based electro-acoustic music can be so enchanting, both in its actual content and in Capece’s conceptualization.
Matthew Horne l Tiny Mix Tapes l July 2012
Lucio Capece has proven himself a fine collaborator on many occasions, but this is his first solo CD. Its six pieces are micro-explorations of pitched sound sources, Capece noting that "after several years of relating with pitched sounds as residual material they called my interest in a new way. I began to find interest in the hidden pitches in the noises and the noises hidden in the combination of pitched sounds." The quavering sound of sruti box that kicks things off could be written off as just an atmospheric drone, but as the piece unfolds, tones and microtones collide and melodic threads leak into the mix.
The title track, for prepared soprano sax, orchestrates layers of breathy overtones, buzzes, mechanical clatter, and metallic ringing. Inside the outside I uses sruti box, equalizer, ring modulator, bass clarinet neck, and cassette and Minidisc walkmans in a disciplined rumbling and shuddering, pitched cries floating across the sonic background. In the second part of the piece, Capece mixes field recordings captured through cardboard tubes (which he refers to as "tuned backyard") with "double plugged equalizer": dark, pulsating textures build and recede in a piece brimming over with detail.
In Spectrum of One (which ruminates on a quote by Gherman Titov, the first person to photograph Earth from orbit back in 1961), a single sinewave enters at subtly modulated frequencies and volume levels, in a study contrasting pitch and inky silence. The final, 20-minute track is credited to "bass clarinet with and without cardboard tubes", its pulsing cadences sectored off with periods of engulfing silence. An invaluable introduction to the work of a highly focused musician with a keen ear for sound placement.
Michael Rosenstein l Paris Transatlantic l July 2012
I don’t know what Lucio Capece does at his day job, or if he has one, but if his solo debut is any indication, he’s got some heady hobbies. Zero Plus Zero’s title and cover art are cribbed from quantum information theory, and while it’s easy for anyone to reference advanced physics precepts and adorn their album’s artwork with inscrutable diagrams, one gets the sense that Capece isn’t just trying to seem smart. The album’s music sounds like a series of scientific experiments, undertaken within specific parameters in order to observe the often minor variance in the results. It’s methodical minimalism made with instrument parts, equalizers, cardboard tubes, and an attentive ear.
An Émile Durkheim quote on the inside of the album’s gatefold concerns the inevitability of human distraction, and our inability to be mindful of everything that surrounds us, especially as our focus sharpens on a single spot. Capece seems to be inviting the listener to experience such inattentiveness, not distracted from the music, but by it. Spectrum of One, a track inspired by the first photographs of the Earth taken from space, is a series of short sine waves, presented unadorned and separated by moments of silence. It requires that the listener give themselves over to the sound — one sliver of flagged attention, and the mind is gone. Though the rest of Zero Plus Zero isn’t always so demanding, a mind in contemplation of the outside world can have trouble following Capece’s path. This is not an ecstatic minimalism to lose yourself to, but music that often asks that you lose everything else.
A trio of tracks called Inside the outside are Capece’s most systematic selections. As a botanist might classify different strands of a particular plant, or a biologist studies the differences between some specific family of salamanders, Capece trains his attention on various veins of drone. Diverse tools, such as a sruti box, bass clarinet, and no-input equalizer, are used to create tones spanning from barely audible to snarling and distorted. Inside the outside III can be so quiet that it’s easy to think the CD has inexplicably stopped playing. Its predecessor is harder to ignore, massaging the interference between two wave frequencies to present simple, familiar audio phenomena in highly-concentrated doses that render them almost psychedelic in effect.
Zero Plus Zero’s title track is its most conventional, at least within the Potlatch universe. On it, Capece plays a prepared soprano saxophone, using an unknown collection of objects to alter or inhibit his horn’s sound. As can happen with this sort of extended technique, it’d be more fulfilling to watch him play than to simply hear it. Childrens’ TV often aims to convince kids that science is fun. This obscures a certain reality of the field, as almost any scientist that I’ve known personally speaks of the dreary repetitiveness, time spent on false leads, and concerted efforts at replication that precede any real breakthrough. Zero Plus Zero is similar, in this respect. It’s not often the most entertaining of albums, but the results can be worth the effort and time expended.
Adam Strohm l Dusted l June 2012
Argentinean born, European resident sound artist Lucio Capese pares sound all the way down to the harmonic beginnings of the universe. On Zero Plus Zero he uses various instruments; the struti box, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, double plugged equalizer, ring modulator and sine waves to create primordial tones that resonate an innate impulse. This very minimalist recording relies on varying frequencies and electronic hum to set the stage. Capese prepares his saxophone and bass clarinet with applied objects and preparations that include cardboard tubes and metal. The mesmeric nature of these sounds is the gift here. Capese, like all great electroacoustic improvisors, lays out slow moving textures, emotions, and shapes, all for prayer, meditation, or rumination.
Mark Corroto l All About Jazz l May 2012
There aren’t many CDs of music that focus on drones and theatre of droning sounds that I enjoy all that much. Eliane Radigue’s work might be the only consistently strong example that springs to mind. I share a strong admiration for Radigue with Lucio Capece, whose new (and first) solo album contains six compositions that take the drone as their starting point, though each of them wander off from any static position to investigate various variations on the base theme. The album, titled Zero plus zero is a new release on the Potlatch label and comes wrapped in a very beautiful, if slightly perplexing sleeve design.
Assorted instrumentation is used throughout this CD. The opening piece, Some move upward uncertainly (For Harley Gaber) is a work for solo sruti box, an instrument I have actually struggled with down the years, partly because that earthy, reedy sound isn’t my favourite, but possibly also because it usually seems to be used in one dimensional, unthinking ways. Here though Capece pulls a single sustained line of sound from the box, as we might expect, though it wavers up and down through various pitches throughout the course of the track, but alongside this unbroken line sits little bits of layered broken up sruti box scattered sparingly about, enough to cause you to forget the minimal aspects of the music and focus on the simple narrative these elements create. The second track is the title piece of the album and is a work for soprano sax with applied objects used as preparations. I suspect this piece to be improvised, though maybe with certain sounds planned out in advance. The piece is quiet and subdued, a distant, whispery thin metallic rubbing sound can be heard as low, sustained sax notes are gently pushed out every ten seconds or so, each lasting just a few seconds so that the silence, tinged by the faint smaller sounds can flood into the spaces between. It doesn’t stop with such minimalism though and the track moves on through other sounds, circular, rattling abrasions and occasional soft and even less occasional louder blasts of the sax appear from time to time. There is a sense of nice balance to this piece, the offsetting of extended notes against much smaller, quieter, shorter and yet ultimately similar events working very well, with the track gradually evolving into a lovely sequence of blunted chimes created as little pops of air are forced through the sax in a way I don’t think I have heard before. Its a gorgeous affair in many ways, all beautifully picked out sounds presented gently but arranged into a tight, uncomplicated structure.
There then follows two pieces titled Inside the outside I and Inside the outside II. The first of these pitches the sruti box against various simple electronic items of the (mysterious to me) modulator / equaliser kind, alongside the neck of Capece’s bass clarinet (why only the neck I am not certain), plus a cassette and minidisc walkman. Though the list of instrumentation used is longer for this track, the structure of the work becomes even more simple. A mix of acoustic sounding and definitely electronic sounding sounds, some simple pitches, others dry textures, other sounds made up of throbbing electronic pulses with a very low constant bass tone remaining present throughout much of the album, highly noticeable when the piece drops into otherwise complete inactivity, which it does often. The second ramps up the ring modulator somewhat and the Radigue influence shows through a little for me here as the gently pulsing tones warble and bulge slowly as the track otherwise maintains its single line running down the middle of its twelve minute duration.
Spectrum of one apparently ponders over the fiftieth anniversary of when man first entered an orbit around the planet. The liner notes include various quotes, and one of them describes the moment an astronaut first took manual photographs of the Earth from space. I’m not sure of how Capece was influenced by these details to make this music, but certainly it is a sparse, minimal affair for sine waves alone that drift in and out at varying pitches like waves of varying intensities breaking on a beach. I am put in mind of the astronaut separated from the rest of mankind in the emptiness of space, staring back at the simple, singly beautiful image of the world. This is a marvellous piece of music that has a clear Malfattiesque feel to its composition and dynamic, which is never a bad thing to me.
The closing track is the third in the Inside the outside series, this time performed on bass clarinet with and without cardboard tubes. Again this is a beautiful piece, but again it is slightly different, this time a continual (circular breathed?) pulse gradually purrs its way through the track, very low in pitch, earthily growling in texture. The sound rises and falls with Capece’s breathing patterns, mimicking soft snoring in some ways, but each soft throb is full of individual detail as different cardboard preparations are added or adjusted slightly. The track slowly drifts away at various points, falling into silence ever so slowly some seven or eight minutes in, only to reemerge at an even gentler level and a tighter, closer scale not long after, the sounds shifting to add slightly more tonal colour but never rising up above the same controlled low volume and sense of focussed, detailed restraint.
All in all, Zero plus zero is an aesthetically very beautiful work, but it also exudes a sense of consideration and purpose that so much music in this area does not. The feeling throughout is one of fragility and continual change but at a very low key manner that really demands that you listen close then you might normally with drone based music to be able to catch on to all of its subtleties. This isn’t something to put on in the background and leave as a static colouring of the room, its surface beauty is very great to behold, but the beauty in the music’s structure requires that little bit more from the listener. All in all really great music though, another highlight of the year so far, a work of real maturity from an excellent musician.
Richard Pinnell l The Watchful Ear l May 2012
Six investigations from Capece in his first solo recording (hard to believe, but apparently true). I do often think of Capece as an investigator, someone who, with great seriousness, plumbs his arsenal relentlessly, searching out previously undiscovered aspects and, importantly, framing them within a compelling, absorbing context. He certainly does so here.
The pieces all involve different instrumentation, beginning with a sonorous and enchanting solo sruti work; admittedly, I could wallow in this stuff all day, those multiple, woody tones, so luxurious. It drones but also meanders (in a good way), leaking out fine tendrils. The title track features soprano sax with preparations. As mentioned above, this is one of those tracks that really has the feel of an in depth probing of his situation/implement. High pitches, often roughed, overlaying a kind of metallic scrabbling, ceding to hollow tones, each area or combination of areas lingered on for at least a minute or two, listened to carefully, gently elaborated on, ending with muffled, percussive bell-tones; really nice. The sruti box is brought out again for the next cut, combined with bass clarinet neck and walkmans, producing a series of low, plaintive moans like an abandoned, forlorn beast in a desolate, smoky terrain, harrowing.
Next up, a work containing my favorite hitherto unencountered instrumentation: "tuned backyard", heard in duet with "double plugged equalizers". The backyard enters late in the piece (lovely sound wherein the effect of the tubes through which the locale is recorded can be clearly heard) but prior to that the piece engenders some serious throbbage. Similar, in a way, to the first track, one can be lured into simply succumbing to the richness and losing oneself in the sheer, gooey plasticity of the sound, but there's more going on: fluctuations within the drone, many more strands than were first apparent great depth. A fairly short, simple and pristine sine wave work, kind of a very slow melody, pure and beautiful, leads to the final work, imho the most powerful one presented here, for bass clarinet "with and without cardboard tubes". Again, an investigation, her into the lower, cloudy cavities of the instrument, the fluttering, pulsed tones like some black, subterranean river. The throb dwindles to a quaver or two, gorgeously paired. You can hear someone who's gone into the Malfatti zone and emerged from the other side, enhanced and "permitted" to more actively engage, the lessons having been well-learned. A fantastic piece, one I can and will listen to many, many times and a seriously fine recording overall. Not to be missed.
Brian Olewnick l Just Outside l May 2012
His Potlatch debut, Zero Plus Zero is the first solo recording from Berlin-based, Argentinean Lucio Capece. Recorded in Berlin between 2009 and 2011, it chronicles the ongoing evolution of his music, an evolution that has seen him move from focusing solely on soprano saxophone and bass clarinet to increasingly adding preparations to his instruments and employing the drones of the harmonium-like Indian sruti (or shruti) box. While soprano saxophone and bass clarinet are featured here on one track each, the album's more dominant sounds are electronics and the sruti box.
The opening track, Some Move Upward Uncertainly, consists solely of drones from the Indian instrument, eloquently demonstrating why a growing number of musicians are employing it as accompaniment. Compared to the steadiness of electronically generated drones, the hand-operated bellows of the sruti box ensure considerable variations in its tones, giving musicians a greater sense of humanity and creativity. Significantly, Capece dedicates the piece to the late Harley Gaber, whose music (notably, the stunning drone piece, The Winds Rise in the North) displays its own sense of humanity.
The prolonged track Zero Plus Zero is a soprano saxophone showcase, with Capece applying (unspecified) objects to the horn as preparations; in the past this has included extending the bell of his horn with cardboard tubes or plastic bottles, bowing the bell or inserting ping-ping balls. Here, the overall effect is of Capece duetting with himself, combining the saxophone's conventional sounded notes with a range of effects—metallic ringing, air through tubes, clattering—into a sound collage that is endlessly fascinating and engaging.
On the remainder of the album, three extended tracks are parts of a wide-ranging four-part piece entitled Inside the Outside. On the first two, Capece makes extensive use of electronics, combining them with the sruti box and other sound sources (including "tuned backyard"!) to produce music far removed from his reeds playing. The end results are a testament to Capece's sense of musicality, as he weaves the disparate elements of the soundscape into a coherent whole that is underpinned by a very satisfying low-frequency thrumming.
The relatively brief Spectrum of One consists of intermittent pure sine waves and serves as a palate-cleansing interlude before the third part of Inside the Outside. As on the first two parts, the underpinning bass sounds are present, but now they are combined with Capece playing bass clarinet, sometimes prepared with cardboard tubes. This creates a bottom-heavy piece overlaid with higher, breathier sounds, this part being compatible with the earlier parts and just as pleasing. It concludes an album that is a richly varied listening experience and demands to be heard repeatedly, as it reveals new treasures every time.
John Eyles l All About Jazz l April 2012