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Alessandro Bosetti / Chris Abrahams
We Who Had Left
MIKROTON CD 19 | 2012

Edition of 500.



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1. We Also Dress Today
2. We Arrange Our Home
3. We Cannot Imagine
4. We See Infancy
5. When They Are Overheard
6. Waltz For Debby

Alessandro Bosetti electronics, voice
Chris Abrahams piano

The piano recital format number one: a pompous italian tenor, his round belly almost exploding inside his tuxedo, stands beside the gigantic grand piano, holding a hand on it while protruding forwards. Outside the stage, an imaginary oceanic audience is seated on hundreds or red velvet chairs.

The piano recital format number two: the tenor has disappeared, lost weight, pulverized, turns into a dust of granulated samples. His voice, barely audible is almost all times falsetto, his singing is speaking and his speaking is singing. Most of times he does not even sing but rather operates devices, provides contexts, sceneries, oleographic landscapes to walk in. The piano is sunken, flooded with water and harmonics. The piano being the only person singing tonight.

Kafka’s Josephine, Caruso, Paul Bley, Giuseppe Verdi and Charlemagne Palestine have a coffee in the shade, just a few meters away.

Chris Abrahams and Alessandro Bosetti are an unusual match. Chris is known for his work with the legendary australian band The Necks and for his contemplative piano improvisations. His playing develops over long stretches of time and often build up immersive sound cathedrals. Alessandro is rather known for paradoxical constructions matching spoken language with music with a taste for translations, misunderstandings and disguises. Against all odds they get along flawlessly in this emotional record that starts with an simple ribattuto in the first piece, grows into an avalanche throughout the following pieces and ends with a distorted and heartbreaking version of a Bill Evans song.

The dispositive in place here is simple: a grand piano, a sampler with deliberately confusing sound sources and a voice.

Compositional ideas are based on canovacci, simple fragments to be improvised on: a pool of few notes, a jazz standard, a short string of words, a nondescript field recording as well as one of Bosetti’s speech melodies are among the humble seeds upon which this duo builds towering and kaleidoscopic architectures.


The Sound Projector, Thomas Shrubsole:
Let’s consider Alessandro Bosetti and Chris Abrahams matt varnished digifile opus We Who Had Left (MIKROTON RECORDINGS CD 19).
Instrumentally it’s all about piano and electronics, approached with an appealing sensuousness which touches on such worlds as jazz and sound poetry. Chris plays piano in The Necks, I gather. I haven’t actually heard The Necks, but the internet told me that and I thought I’d save you opening any extra tabs by passing on the information.
The first track, ‘We also dress today’, doesn’t give too much away, a spare but approachable construct consisting of the piano riffing on one note, loose-connection bass pulse coyly flirting with being a kick-drum and a sprinkling of pattering, looped polyrhythm. The second track, ‘We arrange our home’, is more representative of what the duo have to offer: light, silvery runs up and down the keyboard backed with electronics, in this case an electronic wandering bassline shadows the piano while breathy samples which sound to me like down-tuned whistles are mixed into a gauzy background wash, giving a hovering flute-like exotica tinge. In this Exotic Forest you half expect some Martin Denny birdcalls to start up as you pass the next tree. It’s a coolly strange environment, like Ballard’s crystal jungle relocated to Tahiti and populated with silent Gauguin beauties.
‘We cannot Imagine’ introduces vocals, softly spoken and Italian-accented, slowly repeated and unpicked phrases unravel over the course of ten minutes whilst they are tentatively wafted into song by gentle puffs of piano and the quiet electric whistle-flutes, floating softly around the listening space. Quite a lovely effect, very delicately performed. Bellisimo.
Sound-wise this isn’t quite the Doobie Brothers, but there is a certain smoothness, more evident in some tracks than others, a quietly polished finish you might actually expect of an ambient album. However, when Chris Abrahams strikes or rather caresses a chord or note, ably counterpointed by Alessandro Bossetti, it is mighty enjoyable whatever burnishing methods may or may not have been applied.
‘When they are overhead’ starts a little like Charlemagne Palestine writ medium accompanying a clog-dance and Google party thrown by Santa’s elves. It certainly has the potential to achieve elevation and hits a nicely rolling green-ness towards the end. If you’ve ever seen the BBC Krautrock documentary where Iggy Pop drills a coconut (a fine cultural moment) while describing the music of Neu! you will recall he uses the phrase ‘psychedelic pastoralism’ while sunset silhouetted pylons recede field by field as seen through a car window. My pleasantly wandering mind was reminded as this track progressed of a similar sensation to that evoked by this scene.
Our journey finishes with a cover of a Bill Evans tune, Waltz for Debby. Debby is ceremoniously draped in a belligerent sinusoidal lap-top as our romantic Italian croons and serenades the album away over a seductive tinkle of the old ivories. That’s amoré!

Le Son Du Grisli, Guillaume Belhomme:
En 2010, c’est avec Chris Abrahams qu’Alessandro Bosetti travaillait son art électronique, opposant son iconoclastie aux obsessions du réputé pianiste.
Des progressions tortueuses d’un art musical télégraphique (We Also Dress Today) aux vaines entourloupes d’arpèges qui n’en finissent pas, empêtrés en plus dans les cordes lâches d’une basse de synthèse (We Arrange Our Home), le duo cherche – où trouver en effet l’équilibre à lui aller ? – et puis trouve : si ce n’est une interprétation anecdotique de la Waltz for Debby chère à Bill Evans, le disque consigne une maintenant irréprochable entente.
Ce sont alors un délicat morceau d’atmosphère (We See Infancy), une pièce minimaliste jouant de dissonances et d’inserts électroniques illuminés (When They Are Overhead), enfin, une chanson sur laquelle la voix de Bosetti fait, en anglais, corps avec l’instrument classique pour mieux le retourner : celui-ci accuse alors le coup d’une poésie sonore qui cultive le mystère et brille par les airs qu’elle trouve à dire.

Vital Weekly, Frans de Waard:
Recorded almost three years ago, but for whatever reason it has been lying around until now. We have Chris Abrahams at the piano and Alessandro Bosetti taking care of electronics and in two pieces also voice. It’s a pity that these electronics are not specified. Sampling sounds from the piano, max/mps treatments, analogue synthesizers, stomp boxes? It’s unclear. It opens with a nice sampled piece of prepared piano sounds, ‘We Also Dress Today’, but then ‘We Arrange Our Home’ is way too jazz minded for my taste. ‘We Cannot Imagine’ is then a more spooky piece with a meandering piano, moody electronics and also Bosetti reciting a text, rather than singing it. Like with what he does with his band, Trophies, I am not that blown away by that use of his voice. But then, the next two pieces are very good, intense, minimally changing sounds, clustered sounds of both the piano and samples, tied together and swinging around. In the final piece, ‘Waltz For Debby’, Abrahams plays piano like he is playing in a restaurant, Bosetti like he is on the love boat but with a default in the recording – or as a Whitehouse/Ikeda sine wave remix, but for me it doesn’t save this particular piece. So we have here two tracks I firmly don’t like, three which I do a lot and one that is sort of so-so. That means the balance is in favor of this release. Just.

Gonzo Circus, Guy Peters:
Op papier lijken deze twee niet enkel geografisch, maar ook muzikaal weinig verwant aan elkaar. De in Berlijn gevestigde Italiaan Bosetti is een geluidskunstenaar/componist met een zwak voor field recordings, collages en de menselijke spraakpatronen. Hij is ook een multi-instrumentalist die vroeg in zijn carrière vaak sopraansax speelde, maar zich nu meestal beperkt tot elektronica en zang. De Australische pianist Abrahams is vooral gekend als een van de stichtende leden van het legendarische trio The Necks, dat in de loop van de voorbije kwarteeuw een stevige reputatie heeft opgebouwd binnen de wereld van de vrije muziek met zijn kolossale marathonimprovisaties. Nochtans leidt het op ‘We Who Had Left’ regelmatig tot een vanzelfsprekend samengaan van piano en elektronische manipulaties, waarvan de exacte oorsprong vaak onduidelijk is. In opener ‘We Also Dress Today’ wordt Abrahams’ eindeloos herhaalde noot vergezeld van houtachtig gerommel, dat een bewerking lijkt van prepared piano-technieken. In ‘We See Infancy’ is alles heel uitgepuurd en worden geïsoleerde piano-aanslagen vergezeld van ruis en akelige galm, terwijl het even sobere ‘When They Are Overhead’ aansluit bij de gestage evoluties van The Necks, maar een stuk sneller beland op het terrein van de versmachtende dissonantie. Tot zover alles goed, maar het zijn de twee stukken met zang die heel wat minder overtuigen. In de cover van Bill Evans’ ‘Waltz For Debby’, waarin het pianospel opmerkelijk conventioneel is, klinkt Bosetti als een onzekere charmezanger, maar het is pas in ‘We Cannot Imagine’, met zijn haperende poëzie, die hij lijkt af te lezen van een gebrekkige autocue, dat de spanning al helemaal verslapt en het knullige Engels de zorgvuldig opgebouwde sfeer van het voorgaande teniet doet. Jammer, want ‘We Who Had Left’ zorgt in z’n beste momenten voor hele knappe resultaten.

Rockerilla, Vincenzo Santarcangelo:

Improv Sphere, Julien Heraud:
Je ne crois pas qu’il y ait besoin ici de présenter Chris Abrahams et Alessandro Bosetti, j’en ai déjà parlé plusieurs fois au cours de ces chroniques. Sur Who Who Had Left, également publié par le label russe Mikroton, le premier est crédité au piano et le second à l’électronique et à la voix sur deux pistes. J’ai parfois quelques réticences vis à vis des derniers travaux de ce dernier, mais je dois avouer que cette collaboration est plutôt une réussite. Six pièces, improvisées en partie mais clairement structurées par un canevas généralement assez simple, où les deux personnalités semblent s’échanger leur rôle. Quelques fois, c’est Chris Abrahams qui semble jouer son grand piano en calquant son phrasé sur le langage, puis sur la piste suivante, c’est Alessandro Bosetti qui semble s’intéresser à de longues nappes de sons improvisées, qui produit des textures uniques et surprenantes comme sait si bien le faire Abrahams. Les morceaux sont tour à tour jazz, électro, noise, réductionnistes, sans jamais n’être rien de tout ça. Il s’agit d’une musique personnelle, où l’improvisation est basée sur quelques notes, une structure simple qui se complexifie dans la répétition et le décalage la plupart du temps. Une musique personnelle et sensible, mais aussi variée: chaque piste, chaque pièce, révèle un univers sonore et une ambiance uniques tout en restant cohérente avec le reste. La rencontre entre ces deux musiciens est la bienvenue, les deux personnalités s’accordent dans la créativité et la clarté des structures “déconstructivistes”, mais aussi dans le timbre et les textures. Un accord dans le contenu comme dans la forme pour une rencontre surprenante, réussie, inventive et riche.

Just Outside, Brian Olewnick:
Intrigued expectations before my first listen. I’ve had many problems with Bosetti’s output over the past few years but, on the other hand, I’ve greatly enjoyed much of Abrahams’. What would transpire? Actually, something, or things, very different from what I’d heard of either. “We Also Dress Today”combines pointillistic, one-note piano with light electronic clatter, sounding like a pot of small cans being gently stirred. Low, rough tones nudge but the piece stays put; odd and attractive. The following ifs more of a jazzy excursion, something along the lines of late 60s or Circle-era Corea, perhaps, with hostly, swirling electronics behind. Bosetti’s voice, something I wasn’t looking forward to, makes the first of two appearances on “We Cannot Imagine”, iterating a line slowly, often in a very slightly sing-songy manner, Abrahams’ delicate piano supporting. It eventually gets to a point not all that far from those mid-70s Mantler adaptations of Beckett, like “No Answer”, Bosetti eerily echoing Jack Bruce here and there; good piece. There follows a track akin to the second, but spacier; pretty but a bit hollow. In another oddly allusive cut, “When They Are Overheard” venture into Charlemagne Palestine territory, Bosetti employing very subtle electronics within the piano cascade; strong if, again, a touch to referential. The duo closes with that standard in the eai community, something one hears at every other concert, Bill Evans’ “Waltz for Debby”. :-) Bosetti sings, near-falsetto but movingly, once more weaving his silvery, flitting sounds between the fine and straightforward piano accompaniment. Well, it’s a beautiful composition of course and, I have to say, I’d rather hear this than a rendition by any contemporary “straight” jazz duo I can imagine.
An unusual recording, but overall a winning one.

All About Jazz, Enrico Bettinello:
Si incontrano su un terreno innervato da straordinarie tensioni espressive Alessandro Bosetti e Chris Abrahams.
Sperimentatore elettronico tra i più originali in circolazione il primo, pianista e improvvisatore dei mitici The Necks il secondo. Ironicamente nelle note di accompagnamento al progetto, evocano la pomposità del recital pianistico e del divismo vocale lirico, un mondo che sembra essere appena scomparso, polverizzato, quando appaiono le prime note di questo We Who Had Left.
La voce è al centro della ricerca di Bosetti da molto tempo [l’artista ha anche sviluppato un software controllabile in tempo reale che permette di lavorare con frammenti verbali, come testimoniato nell’interessante vinile Stand Up Comedy] e questo gli permette al tempo stesso sia una grande forza espressiva che una riflessione piuttosto radicale sul linguaggio.
Nelle sei tracce di We Who Had Left, a partire da pochi frammenti, il pianoforte di Abrahams e il sampler di Bosetti indagano spazi di struggente fascinazione, lasciando che sia poi la voce stessa del musicista milanese [oniricamente sospesa tra il cantilenare di alcuni lavori di Robert Ashley e una versione lo-fi di Chet Baker] a tessere surreali raccordi narrativi.
Il gioco melodico viene condotto in modo sempre inaspettato da una o dall’altra componente, il pianoforte si inceppa emozionalmente su ipnotiche frasi, mentre l’elettronica impolvera continuamente lo stesso atto dell’ascoltare.
È la stessa costruzione del disco a dare un senso ancora più preciso al percorso, specie nella seconda parte, con l’allucinato paesaggio di “When They Are Overhead” da cui sgorga la [forse] inaspettata rilettura finale di “Waltz For Debby,” il celebre trequarti di Bill Evans [qui con le parole scritte da Gene Lees, la cui origine potete leggere in cliccando qui] che viene progressivamente screziato da onde sonore taglienti.
Un disco magico, tra i più preziosi di questi ultimi mesi.

Les Energumènes, L'Un:
L’erreur initiale aura été de vouloir obstinément cantonner le travail de Chris ABRAHAMS à sa collaboration au sein The NECKS, l’album solo précédemment chroniqué dans ces pages ressemblant alors à une petite aventure nocturne du pianiste dans un champ le plus éloigné possible des reptations hypnotiques de son post-jazz trio. En fait, albums solo et collaborations sont multiples, comme autant de facettes d’une œuvre kaléidoscopique qui n’a de cesse d’explorer les limites territoriales de son instrument, quitte à le confronter à quelques mises en abîmes au passage… Cette rencontre avec Alessandro Bosetti, multi-artiste basé à Berlin, est pour le moins déroutante. Superposition ou mise en parallèle d’univers très distincts, les interprètes ne tendent nullement une fusion entre l’instrument analogique et un skronk électronique, à la manière d’Alva Noto & Sakamoto. Là, les errances respectives se cherchent et furètent à la tangente sans jamais se rejoindre, un mode erratique en soliloques parallèles pour seule partition commune.
Etrangeté, comme les arpèges avortés du piano, bercés par une électro-acoustique fantomatique où se perd un chant atonal et décal é (« We Cannot Imagine »).
Luxuriance stérile d’un strumming pianistique confronté à la montée en puissance de bruissements et interférences sinusoidales (« When They Are Overheard »).
Naufrage distant pour notes orphelines égarées et langage morse digital (« We see infancy »). Primitivisme organique de la note unique martelée sans cesse dans un tourbillon de cliquetis sous pression (« We Also Dress Today »).
Dérapage incontrôlé d’une (cyber?) reprise à côté de ses pompes d’un morceau crooner de Bill Evans («Waits for Debby ») .
A défaut de la symbiose attendue, c’est une fragile alchimie des extrêmes opposés qui opère lentement, avec cette assurance modeste d’artisans-défricheurs sûrs de leur bon droit en ce monde de certitudes canoniques éculées.
Et Miles Davis qui doit se retourner dans sa tombe…

Soundofmusic, Magnus Nygren:
Det ryska skivbolaget Mikroton fortsätter att hitta glimrande korn i den nya experimentella musiken, inte minst i den som härstammar från det globala Berlin. Här är det pianisten Chris Abrahams och vokalisten och elektronisten Alessandro Bosetti som i en inspelning från i april 2010 rör om i grytan. Och visst händer det spännande saker i den så kallade echtzeitmusikens bakvatten. Om de ljudliga tunnlarna tidigare smalnade av tycks musiken numera aktivt söka upp nya passager att med vunna erfarenheter undersöka och omforma. Som i versionen av Bill Evans ”Waltz for Debby” där Abrahams piano möter elektroniskt motstånd och sång av Bosetti. ”We also dress today” deschiffreras av nära nog morseliknande piano och kläs med polyrytmiska ljud som av ett vindspel i bambu. Och det är inte bara i ”Waltz for Debby” som jazzen tittar fram, Abrahams tar till jazzharmonierna när de möblerar i ”We Arrange our Home”, ett hem som definitivt är hemsökt av andliga varelser. ”We who had left” är dock en varierad skiva, som dock effektivt hålls samman av Abrahams piano och återkommande ljud från Bosettis elektronik. Flyktigheter möter upprepad minimalism och bara det faktum att Abrahams och Bosetti närmar sig musiken från olika håll och med olika erfarenheter – kontemplativ lyrik möter elektroniska störningar och pulser samt röst – skapar spänning.

Skug, Curt Cuisine:
Der Italiener Alessandro Bosetti hat erst vor kurzem eine etwas schrille CD veröffentlicht, »Der italienische Manierismus«. Schon dort war nicht ganz klar, wie sehr sich dieser umtriebige Komponist und Elektroneutöner selbst ernst nimmt, ob hier Kunst und Ironie, Zitat und Verfremdung noch zu trennen sind. Auf »We who had left« hat sich Bosetti mit dem Pianisten Chris Abrahams zusammen getan und das Resultat ist ähnlich Verwirrung stiftend. Wir hören elektroakustisch verfremdete Klavierstücke, oft mit einem Hang zur Minimal Music, dann wieder sphärisch-schwebend (der wunderschöne Track No. 5) oder in eine Art Minihörspiel abbiegend. Und am Ende, auf »Waltz for Debby«, dem Bill Evans-Klassiker, spielt Abrahams beinahe werkgetreu, während Bosetti mit der Attitüde eines sterbenden Schwans singt, äh, krächzt. Eine ähnliche Schurkerei hat Bosetti übrigens schon einmal geliefert, beim eher durchwachsenen »Become Objects Of Daily Use«. Die Nicht-Zuordenbarkeit ist hier insgesamt aber durchaus der Schlüssel zum Genuss. Auch wenn die einzelnen Titel nicht wirklich das Rad neu erfinden, insgesamt wächst einem dieses verquere, ein wenig manierierte Stück Elektroakustik durchaus ans Herz. Ein Geheimtipp.

JAZZofilo, Mark Corroto:
Alessandro Bosetti’s sideways glance at composition and improvisation offers intrepid listeners the opportunity to contemplate any and every sound as music. Speech cadence and patterns turn into melodies, as does electronic fragments and field recordings. From his roots in minimalist improvisation, the singer/electronics manipulator has blossomed into a composer of musical errata that coagulates into various moments of euphonic satori.
On We Who Had Left, he partners with pianist Chris Abrahams (best known for his work in the piano trio The Necks), whose performances generally entail lengthy repetitive hypnotic improvised music. With Bosetti, his keyboard explorations are magnified and elevated by his partner’s sampling and occasional repeated word speech melodies.
The presence of Abrahams’ piano is an elixir for consuming Bosetti’s principles. He forms a context to the spoken reiterations of “We Cannot Imagine” and the one cover tune, pianist Bill Evans’ “Waltz For Debby,” where he plays straight man to Bosetti’s electronic plink/plonk and spoken/sung-in-the-shower rendition. Elsewhere, the exploration of extended melodies and Abraham’s taste for slowly developing music are heard on “When They Are Overhead.” His patented repetitive piano progression is augmented by Bosetti’s electronic chirps, rumbles, whirls and purrs. At nearly fourteen minutes, the track is an abbreviated journey for fans of The Necks’ hour-long crescendos, but it also casts a new light on both players’ native musical languages.

Современная музыка, Илья Белоруков:
И вновь на Микротоне Крис Абрахамс (Chris Abrahams)! А вот имя Алессандро Бозетти еще не встречалось в каталоге московского лейбла, если не считать трек его группы Trophies на монументальном тройнике Echtzeitmusik Berlin. В рецензии про альбом Абрахамса и Лусио Капесе (Lucio Capece) я говорил о том, что первый удивляет каждым новым релизом, осваивая всё новые территории экcпериментальной музыки. Ожидания оправдались и сейчас – материал вновь неожиданный. На этот раз Крис играет на рояле, а Бозетти использует электронику и в паре треков голос.
Первая композиция занятна хотя бы тем, что в ней Крис играет только на одной ноте, умудряясь находить оттенки звука за счет пауз и ритмической головоломки, через пару минут и вовсе можно забыть о том, что это звучит рояль. Бозетти плетёт нити повествования с помощью перкусионных электронных звуков, хитро семплируя и работая с их фактурой. В следующем треке инициативу подхватил пианист. Он демонстрирует беглость пальцев и изощренную фантазию в рамках академического импрова. Однако таковым стать треку не дает Алессандро, который выстраивает на втором плане размеренные аморфные полотна из звуков непонятного происхождения и занимается басовыми партиями. В третьем треке Босетти полу-поёт или полу-декламирует и производит “потусторонюю” электронику характерную скорее для апологетов дарк-эмбиента, в то время как Абрахамс наигрывает импрессионистские пассажи. Это довольно странный момент альбома. Прекрасно артикулированный, но недостаточно хорошо поставленный голос вкупе с довольно банальными наигрышами рояля и такой же электроникой вместе создают эдакую нарочитую отстраненность от привычных заумностей. На выходе получается отличный образец звуковой поэзии и импрова. Следом трек, звучащий словно напоминание о предшественнике, но без голоса в этот раз. Вновь ленивые красивости у рояля и мягкие синусоиды лэптопа: минимализм, место которому нашлось бы в каталоге лейбла Room40. В пятой композиции Крис вдруг вспомнил о наследии The Necks и стал весь трек гонять тремоло с сустейном, как в лучшие годы своего знаменитого трио. Что оставалось делать Босетти? Только лишь пытаться каким-то образом не допустить падения в эмбиент. С этим он справился неплохо, занимаясь электронным глитчем и стрекотом, явно накручивая паттерны где-нибудь в Max/MSP. На вкусненькое музыканты оставили нам джазовый стандарт “Waltz for Debby” авторства Билла Эванса (Bill Evans). Ничего примечательного в нем могло и не быть, если бы не откровенно стремная клавишная партия Бозетти: он играет нарочито невпопад, мимо нот и вообще всячески стараясь изуродовать джазовое настроение, аккуратно выстраиваемое Абрахамсом. При этом он ещё и поёт, да так, что сразу и не понять всерьёз или это лишь шутка.
Невзирая на все странности и пугающие своей неоднозначностью места, альбом этот обращает на себя внимание с первых звуков, и интерес не пропадает до самого конца. Кажется, что работа эклектична, но она вместе с тем и монолитна. Нет ни тени сомнения в том, что музыканты знают, что делают. А это уже признак мастерства.