The animal world is a constant in the work of Milan improvisational duo Rosso Polare. If Cani Lenti was guided by the diaphanous birdsong integrated into their sparkling mix of folklore, ambiences and occasional humming, on Bocca D’ombra the themes go darker, textures are harder to pin down and the animal presence takes on new connotations.
Instead of an anonymous, patchworked outdoors we enter a cavernous space that invokes the collective unconscious with bestial and funereal undertones, as the animals take on the role of the psychopomps, ancient guides through the shadow realm.
The album is influenced by Timothy Morton’s Dark Ecology, a thinker who sees the constant exchange between the human and natural world as an ongoing dialogue, the two influencing each other, in a series of reverberating loops. This looping is also reflected in their compositions, where improvisations with traditional instruments like electric and acoustic guitars, monophonic synths, horns or flutes meet natural noise-making tools like branches, rocks or nuts that amount to lugubrious, often dissonant textures. Bocca D’ombra is built on a series of whispers, breaths, panting and rustling, creating a feeling of closeness sometimes verging on the claustrophobic, ingeniously set against sounds evoking space – fireworks crackling, crows echoing, church bells reverberating, indistinct cries from a children’s playground.
Distance and repetition are deeply ingrained in their own understanding of sound and their surroundings, becoming the building blocks of their practice. Just like Gregory Bateson in the ‘70s, the duo believes in a more romantic approach to ecology, seeking a porous border between self and environment, human and animal, internal monologue and external ambient hum.
If earlier releases were noisier and denser, Bocca D’ombra is tight and focused – every sound and melody is given room to breathe and develop on its own, enhancing the haunting, otherworldly aspect of the music. The result is heady, intoxicating mix which sublimates chaos into sparkling compositions of contemporary animism.