Split albums are generally not much loved by fans, often forced and incoherent combinations of musicians and songs without true relationships or conceptual connections between them. Exactly the opposite is what happens in the work originated from the lasting friendship and long-distance interchange between Matteo Uggeri of Sparkle in Grey and Paul Lemos of Controlled Bleeding. Perversions of the Aging Savant not only shuffles the cards with the additional “extra perversions” of the two groups placed symmetrically at the end of the album, but is also the result of creative artist collaboration throughout the recording process. The laborious work of bilateral “influence” has allowed the development of a tangible affinity in the sonic climate, and of a considerable stylistic consistency among the different sections of the album, without affecting the individual characteristics of the two projects.
On one hand we have the well-known eclecticism of Controlled Bleeding, ranging from pages of confident guitar based prog-rock (the aerial and enchanted notes of Brooklyn in Springtime recall the delicate touch of Tony Duhig of Jade Warrior) to rough industrial-noise excursions (the coarse-grained groove and the whirling distorted solos of Perks pt.1) or to jazzy improvisations now soberly melodic and now tangled and dissonant (the two parts of Birdcanned).
And on the other hand, there is the compact suite Idiot Savant by Sparkle In Grey, a poignant chamber lieder with neo-classical aplomb, gradually built from sparse notes of piano and a mournful violin around an emotional recurring theme, among mysterious choral breaths and subterranean cacophonies. In some moments of the album we even witness a sort of mimesis, therefore the Intro by Controlled Bleeding, with its weird accelerated voices on a strident rhythmic mechanism, could very well be a creation of Sparkle In Grey, while the Italians’ Mevlano pt. 1 could pass for an episode by Lemos, Joe Papa and associates linking free jazz to drone ambient. The two projects also reveal a common and latent inclination towards dub, besides the propensity to explore different routes, aerial and solar but also misty and labyrinthine, often in a improvisational mode.
An (anti)split album in which two champions of the international underground scene join forces to concoct an exquisitely perverse juxtaposition of free-prog-jazz-noise-ambient courses and post-rock- electro-neo-classical tidbits.
FIRST SECTION – “The Perks of Being a Perv”
1 – Intro
2 – Garage Dub
3 – Springtime in Brooklyn
4 – Perks Pt. 1
5 – 6 – Birdcanned Pt. 1 & 2
SECOND SECTION – “The Rant of the Idiot Savant” Sparkle in Grey
7 – Idiot Savant Pt. 1
8 – Idiot Savant Pt. 2
9 – Idiot Savant Pt. 3
10 – Idiot Savant Pt. 4
EXTRA PERVERSIONS (CD)
Sparkle in Grey: 11 – Mevlano pt.1
Controlled Bleeding: 12 – Live in Brooklyn, 2012
The experimental band was originally formed around 1978 by Paul Lemos. The band’s classic first album, Knees and Bones, which now stands as one of the earliest documents of American power electronics, was issued in 1983. After this long career, Controlled Bleeding is now renewed and reinvigorated. Mastermind Paul Lemos put together a new, stripped-down lineup of the group featuring drummer Anthony Meola, who played in the very early formation. To complete the new band, keyboardist/sonic sculptor Mike Bazini also signed on. With the aid of a bass looper, the group is again playing live, returning to the direct, guitar-driven progressive sounds of their early “pre-industrial” days. Sounding like a combination of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Fripp and Eno and Oneida, the music is highly intense and more relevant than ever. Having recently recorded with producer Martin Bisi, the group will release a new full-length within the next six months.
Material partially recorded at Martin Bisi studio in New York.
Formed in 2005 in Milan, Italy, Sparkle in Grey’s instrumentation includes violin, bass, laptop, guitar, bagpipes, piano, polyrhythmic drums, melodica, field recordings, harsh noises and a bicycle. They cross many styles, from Industrial to electronic to Ukrainian traditional folk music to post-combat rock. One of their latest record, Thursday Evening, is an Italian-Swiss production, recorded by Andrea Serrapiglio (better known as a cellist for Carla Bozulich, Scott McCloud and Zu 93). Themed around riots and resistance against oppression and injustice, each copy of the album comes with a pebble. One of the songs was featured on The Wire Tapper #32.
Here they propose a mostly improvised session of more than 20 minutes of music, starting with the delicate notes of a piano, passing through a desperate rock melody, exploding in a noise drama and closing with an electronic slow pace coda.
Recorded at Andrea Serrapiglio BadInstruments in Alessandria.