Steel Water Light is the CD version of a live performance from December 1999 entitled "Scratchworks of a Silent City." Roberto Musci, Chris Cutler, Jon Rose, and Claudio Gabbiano played collective compositions over three short silent films from the 1920s by Joris Iven and Paul Strand. Duo improvisations were also interspersed and the performance began and concluded with quartets. But these distinctions lose their meaning on the album, as Musci extensively edited and remixed the recordings, adding some material to create a self-standing 40-minute work. His samples lead the way throughout. Old fans of his music with Giovanni Venosta will recognize his ability to shape extraneous sounds into seductive melodies and to combine unrelated sources to create poetic meetings. But his ethnic inspirations of 15 years prior to this release have been replaced with something more raw, more urban. Episodes of dense sample accumulation (track two, for instance) alternate with more bucolic moments, like the beautiful duet between Gabbiano and Rose in track three, a reminder of the violinist's virtuosity (beyond all avant-gardist considerations). Cutler plays electronic drums. His input is not easy to pinpoint and remains mainly atmospheric -- no complex rhythms here. Steel Water Light will not replace Musci's classic albums, but it makes a pleasant (if short) listening experience. Recommended for lovers of light, atmospheric new music.
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