It took guitarist Luigi Archetti and bassist Jan Schlegel five years to record the 15 short pieces comprising Silent Surface. It's a labor of love; you can hear it right from the start. Both musicians use electronics -- in fact, sounds commonly associated with electric guitar and bass are few and far between on this album. But the two musicians develop gripping textures and very intriguing nonidiomatic interplay. Sometimes you'll hear a string played under the bridge or a backwards motif, but most of the music consists of digital crackle, odd transformations, and ghost traces of melodic material. This album focuses on conciseness as most pieces are in the three- to four-minutes range, and only two of them rack up a few seconds over the fifth minute. Some are obviously edited from longer chunks, but the fades are tasteful. Certain listeners can't stand this fragmented approach; they'd rather have a continuous 70-minute improvisation. But you can only approve of the way this duo has kept only the choice cuts from five years of sonic exploration. This music falls into the European current of electro-acoustic improvisation. It holds similarities with the works of Joel Stern, Hans Tammen, and Werner Dafeldecker, to name but three, but through the course of the 15 tracks distillates a personal essence. It may be challenging at first listen, but soon you find yourself enamored by it as you direct your attention to new details. Silent Surface is the kind of album you come back to regularly and find that your listening experience changes every time.
AllMusic Review by François Couture