Review of Elements Album by Simbiosi

Everything's relative, right? For instance, if we were to tell you that Italian production duo Simbiosi's debut album was a little challenging, we'd need to qualify what we meant by that. And so here goes. First, we looked up the word "Experimental" in the dictionary. The definition reads "based on untested ideas or techniques and not yet established or finalized", which is kind of a good description, but not quite there. So then we went with unconventional, which  is "not based on or conforming to what is generally done or believed". Pretty close. Finally we hooked up with weird, which gave us "suggesting something supernatural; unearthly."

Simbiosi Elements Album

The truth is that at various stages, 'Elements' is all three of those things, most of the time in fact simultaneously. Fourteen truncated pieces - even the longest being less than four minutes in total - the end to end journey wavers between brutal and abstract, melody rare, twisted and it seems just an accidental by product of the recording process. In so much as electronic music was originally created in the aural image of godless industrialism, opener 'Xxxxxx' is as unforgiving as the noise of an unthinking manufacturing loop, hammering, mostly distorted bass with the occasional scrambled voice fragments in the background. Oddly, this kind of messy radicalism is strictly for the purist, a scene where the collapsing and expanding time signatures and growing unrelated parts spread like a virus, the likes of 'Fake', 'Mute' and 'Huldra' becoming totalitarian, swathes of white noise, dark matter and diode sweat, more art than music and more sensory deprivation than art.

At a practical level, its creators recorded 'Elements' in the hours of darkness, their manifesto being  "Everything sounds better at night" and have split it into three distinct parts, although as there's no explanation why or sonic clues as to whether something thematic links or disassociates them, we have to say we've got no idea what any of that means. Like hackers, when they choose to pull back from the precipice of making the most disturbing movie soundtrack of all time and revert to plain old DJ kicking the most leftfield dancefloor on earth, something like music emerges. In this alternative dimension rudimentary, abrasive techno is king, downplayed on tracks like 'Zero' and 'Akaname' (The latter being 'Elements' most accessible moment, although as we say, it's all relative) but elsewhere wide-eyed, desperate and on 'Call Frm 2', 'Sense' or 'Impari' as bleak and uncompromisingly acid flecked as anything Aphex Twin has ever produced.

Never less than dialled into a set of frequencies far out of the mainstream's preconceptions, 'Elements' is a reminder that the cosy homogeneity of much of what we listen to is, for some palettes, as bland as mother's milk. By rendering sound back to its discordant, natural and unfiltered raw elements, Simbiosi it seems have taken delight in engineering us out of our comfort zone, into a dimension which is unremittingly alien. Don't even bother looking it up next time: the Italian duo are clearly set on perpetually evolving, creating new syntax and chaotic forms as they go.


Andy Peterson

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