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Fabio Orsi / Valerio Cosi - Thoughts Melt in the Air

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Artist: Fabio Orsi / Valerio Cosi

Album: Thoughts Melt in the Air

Label: Preservation

Review date: Mar. 23, 2009

In the tradition of compatriots My Cat is an Alien, the Italian musicians Fabio Orsi and Valerio Cosi have self-released (CD-Rs, limited cassettes, split LPs, etc.) their way into respects of the worldwide experimental music scene. Both talented young men draw heavily on manipulated sounds to concoct their personal take on drone-based music; Orsi’s style originates with guitar while Cosi’s with saxophone. And most impressively, they are making an idiosyncratic mark in a faceless and rather thankless genre. Anyone can make noise, but few have the talent for making it their own. Their recent collaboration, Thoughts Melt in the Air, is further proof. With four drone-based pieces, Orsi and Cosi craft a mesmerizing album that balances the artist’s most difficult beam: that with challenge weighing on one side, and the ability to entice on the other.

The opening “The Frozen Seasons of Lysergia (Part One)” begins like a mechanical sitar raga, underpinned by muffled vociferations and a clipped snare rhythm. “Thoughts” hums along with a steadily thumping drumbeat, and during the song’s peak, a Sci Fi-ish synth melody – quick in its bright repetition and more perceptible as the track rumbles on – fights a cacophonous layer of pink noise for attention. As the piece concludes, it all melts into a pitch-wavering wash of analog synthesizer by-product. It’s almost angelic in its aura.

This makes for a strong introduction, but the real meat isn’t until the latter half of the album. “Melt in the Air” glimmers and glistens and radiates (I could go on with a dozen other descriptive verbs for visual phenomena), but it’s not until the sparkly drone crumbles into tidal currents of tinny guitar feedback that it becomes really affecting. Suddenly, the comparison to the 4AD roster that accompanies the CD’s packaging (This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins) finally makes sense. The drone is suddenly manifested as dream-pop ambience. A subtle pulsating rhythm emerges from the background only to ebb behind the increasing layers of feedback and coarse noise, and finally the song’s arc subsides into the original seraphic-sounding theme.

“The Frozen Seasons of Lysergia (Part Two)” concludes with a wistful haze of subtly melodic white noise. It affects without crescendonic melodrama. It’s tumultuous without vehemence. It’s like enjoying the natural beauty of a snowstorm that has not quite reached the severity of a blizzard (from cozily indoors, of course).

Released on Australia’s consistently impressive Preservation Records, Thoughts Melt in the Air distinguishes itself by balancing each of the artists’ own talents as well as a shared aesthetic. It’s a level seldom achieved in the over-saturated market of drone/ambient-based releases, and a signal that these two young Italian musicians are already close to securing spots among the canon of their craft.

By Michael Ardaiolo

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