CD REVIEW Simon Balestrazzi

Band : Simon Balestrazzi
Album title : The Sky Is Full Of Kytes
Label : Boring Machines
Distributor : /
Release date : 03/02/2012
Release : CD

Turning 50 this very year, Simon Balestrazzi is an Italian “post-musician” (wha's tha' mean?), sound designer and sound engineer with a past in music going back 35 years when, at the age of 15, he quit formal education to pursue his own experiments with self-built instruments and primitive reel-to-reel tape recorders.

In 1981, he co-founded the still active T.A.C. (short for Tomografica Assiale Computerizzata, taken from the medical imaging device) in his hometown of Parma, in the North of Italy (today, apparently, they operate from Cagliari, in South Sicily) which, to date, have given us a number of albums (3 full-lengths in the '80s; 4 full-lengths, a mini-album, and a re-issue of their 3rd album with bonus tracks during the '90s; and 4 albums in the new millennium, until 2004) the hybrid field of experimental music & Avant Rock [for closer intel about the band's history, check their story available at (www.) neurohabitat.it]. In Summer 2006 T.A.C. went on a hiatus, and there was talk about a reunion in late 2009 to finish recordings, frozen in 2005, on an album...but so far there's no positive news. Meanwhile...back in 1986 Simon also founded Dark-Chamber ensemble Kino Glaz, with members which would join T.A.C. following that band's second split. KG only release one album in 1988.

In 1991 Simon joined the well-known Italian Electro act Kirlian Camera, with whom he would stay for the b-next 7 years, not only contributing to several of their albums, but also performing live throughout Europe. Eventually, Simon moved to New York, where he graduated in sound engineering at the Institute Of Audio Research. Returning to Italy, he relocated to Cagliari, and re-started the T.A.C. story (see above). In the new millennium, Simon associated his name to several collaboration projects & releases, including 2003's Solid Blue Silence by Deep Engine (issued through Small Voices, who also did the T.A.C. stuff), Bron Y Aur's 2007 album Millenovecerosettantatre (Wallace Records), the 2008 album Cras (Sarditinera) he did under the duo name of Clara Murtas & Simon Balestrazzi, and the 2010 album Floating Signal, done under the name Balestrazzi/ Eastley/ Olla/ Z'EV, issued through TiConZero. In 2009 that same label also released the debut album Like A Tree Growing Out Of A Sidewalk of the more steady collaboration with Monica Serra (actress gone vocalist since 1999, and a collaborator in T.A.C.) known as Dream Weapon Ritual. The duo has since released From Somewhere Else [downloadable for free from Radical Matters, link at (www.) neurohabitat.it] in 2010, and should have released a new mini-CD entitled Another View in April of last on Magick With Tears (I'm thinking that's a label started by Simon). On the same label (and in 2011) came the album Untitled Soundscapes by three-piece ensemble A Sphere Of Simple Green. Since then, Simon is waiting for the release of Treasure Hunt's eponymous album (a new 5-piece collaboration project including Alessandro Olla – see above)...an album under the monicker of Sarang (collaboration with erstwhile T.A.C member – he joined in mid 1989, and stayed for 5 years – and now former Forbici Di Manitù member Enrico Marani) should be completed by now...and T.A.C should have seen the first release on CD of their 1982 cassette Senza Titulo issued on Rome based Sometimes Records (sorry if I didn't quite check all of that latter info). Simon has contributed, either as musician or producer (or both) to a shit-list of albums by other artists [again, see list at (www.) neurohabitat.it]. There were also collaborations which did not result in albums (yet), including the bands ESP and Quamanek, as well as Electrified Ether, and he is a frequent live member of Electro-Acoustic improv ensemble MOEX.

Under his own name, Simon released his first solo album The Darkest Holler as a free download through Radical Records in 2009. He followed that up with the release of the 2011 mini-album A Rainbow In My Mirror (issued through his own Magick With Tears). Simon's music has been used extensively in Italian life, for Dance, for theater, in movies, advertising and during exhibitions, and even more prominently, by RAI for several radio and television programs. Which, I daresay with some relief, concludes the informational part of this review...

...and brings us to the enjoyable part of the music itself! To describe it, I gladly make use of what the label put down, and cite, “he newset solo record from Simon Balestrazzi is a three piece worth almost an hour of electroacustic artisanal soundcraft. The first track “Under Pressure” oscillates in between Ritual Ambient and memories of an industrial soundscape, while “Persistence Of Memory” features a slightly aggressive sound, closer to the metallic fences of the industry. The third track, “The Sky Is Full Of Kytes” starts with spacey atmospheres only to become a claustrophobic downward spiral of thundering electricity which resolves in a sea of buzz and feedbacks.” Now, ain't that well-said? And somewhat accurate too...too bad I found no sites on the Internet for you to sample some of the music (except for the free downloads mentioned above). Oh wait, you can find excerpts from the collaboration albums Floating Signal (with Max Eastley, Alessandro Olla and Z'EV) and Teasure Hunt (with Sylvie Courvoisier, Alessandro Olla, Maja Ratkje and Ikue Mori) at Amazon! Those may not be quite the same, but should be sóme indicator as to the kind of music Balestrazzi dabbles in...quite successfully, I may add! In fact, só successfully to my personal taste, that I'm chucking The Sky Is Full Of Kytes into my year)lists!

98/100

Tony.