So often do bands weigh in significantly greater than the sum of their parts, that when you do just so happen upon an ensemble comprising artists each of whom is equivalently proficient when left to their own devices, it disorientates a moment. As much can be said of London-based electronica duo Walls for when broken down into its binary components, Sam Willis and Alessio Natalizia are every bit as impressive solo as they are side by side. Willis’ essential Winterval LP of yesteryear conclusively corroborated such theory, and Natalizia’s début endeavour under the guise of Not Waving works similar wonders for the other figurative brick in Walls.
Not only is the Abruzzo musical émigré’s Umwelt a first for him personally, but so too is it indirectly a work of collective relevance for it represents the inaugural release on the duo’s newly founded Ecstatic imprint. All for one then, and Umwelt really is one for all: from the plush ambiences and aquatic atmospheres of Carrizo Plain, to the globular minimalism of Kesswil it’s a work of rare texture and depth. It immediately appeals to those acutely tuned into the manifold frequencies of preconceived dance music, and yet simultaneously informs those less cognisant of listeners. Sicklerville Blackwood for instance, with its gruesome motorik gurn, tells of the influence of industrial machinery upon those more compulsively kinetic musics (the album is in fact inspired by ‘the arcane militaristic practice of Remote Viewing’), while Nemrut Dagi recalls the crescendoing, if somehow gently crestfallen euphoria of Orbital at the peak of their powers as a porcelain piano refrain chatters gelidly about restive beats and nitty statics. The ability to arouse a palpably human sense of passion is what differentiates electronic musics’ pioneers from its exponentially increasing number of mere bedroom-ensnared practitioners, and Umwelt unrelentingly establishes Natalizia as an undisputed master of his craft belonging to the former bracket.
Natalizia incidentally serves as the feminine form of the Italian adjective labelling anything of, or relating to Christmas and in Alessio’s latest work, he presents a premature regalo which functions not only as a doting homage to his cultural forebears, but so too as an invigorating thrust in an altogether new, and with it novel direction. Wladimarinello, brimming with thalassic samples and wompy bass undulation, sounds like the ominous hum of Demdike Stare filtered through an analog polysynth so that it should seem not only overtly accessible, but with it instantly palatable. And with its nine tracks averaging what is, within the context of modern-day electronic music, a comparatively scanty four minutes, thirty-five there is no pretence to suggest nor render it an in any way problematic listen. Umwelt meanwhile, in the study of biological behaviour, is the loanword we employ when speaking of a “self-centred world” though with this breathtaking work, Natalizia portrays himself as a nothing, if not altruistic creative. For this is music to make the world revolving inside your head a much more becoming place.
Released: May 6th, 2013 [Ecstatic]