TU M' - Monochromes Vol. 1 (Line)

on Friday, 12 March 2010
Line being a sister label to the marvelous and ever reliable 12k records to quote "has continued to publish documents of compositional and installation work by international sound artists and composers exploring the aesthetics of contemporary and digital minimalism as limited edition Compact Discs and DVDs."

To some 12k may be experimental in its own right, Line however takes it to the next level being specifically for ultra-minimal stuff and art installations. As such at times I've tended to keep a distance. For this release though nothing could be more instant to the ears of an appreciator of long swelling drones.

TU M’ are an Italian multimedia duo formed by Rossano Polidoro and Emiliano Romanelli in 1998. In their own words "Through a personal use of digital and analog instruments, the TU M' reveal a complex universe made up of present and past, closeness and distance, where seeing and listening become a meditative contemplation. " I couldn't agree more.

At times it veers towards the epic soundscapes of ambient dub master BvDub, allowing the pieces to flow and billow into an endless sea of tranquility. The only fault here would be Monochrome #04's length, straying into 29 minutes whereas twelve would quite happily have sufficed. The other three tracks however are exemplary both in length and content.

"A poet always has too many words in his vocabulary,
a painter too many colors on his palette,
a musician too many notes on his keyboard."
- Jean Cocteau

Tu' M - Monochrome # 03 - excerpt
Tu' M - Monochrome # 00 - excerpt

2008/2009 | Monochrome # 09+V06 | 20' | excerpt.mov
2008/2009 | Monochrome # 08+V03 | 30' | excerpt.mov
2008/2009 | Monochrome # 06+V05 | 20' | excerpt.mov

What Boomkat Said: This disc represents the auditory component of a mixed media project from Italian duo Tu M', who describe Monochromes as "a collection of modular audio and video compositions" which create sound and light vibrations that reverberate around the performance space, resulting in "an atmosphere to be contemplated". This being an audio-only CD, Tu M' have in a sense shifted the goalposts somewhat, and the only clue to the visual element you have is the album sleeve, which lifts a still image from the project. Having listened through the disc, it's actually pretty difficult to imagine how any sort of corresponding video might enhance the experience. These compact, finely worked pieces construct an enveloping ambience in their own right. 'Monochrome 01' immediately provokes comparisons to William Basinski with its looped, heavily enshrouded loops and ghostly piano gestures, but there's a more digital, less gritty feel to this album that sets it apart from that oft-copied sound. Next comes 'Monochrome 02' (unsurprisingly enough), which is far less concerned with constructing any explicit melodic presence, instead content to cast sonic shadows for twelve minutes or so - it's all characterised by a disconcerting intangibility, vaporous and strangely... absent in tone. More overtly musical is the shortest entry here, 'Monochrome 03', which unfurls chords that gently swell and fall away like a distant orchestra, only for the final piece to present a more solid block of sound, casting a veil of digital smudges over your ears for a hypnotic half-hour. Abstract and immersive listening from the reassuringly challenging Line stable.