Issued by Hornschaft in a limited edition of 500 numbered copies, CHECK OUT, which houses a ten-inch vinyl disc within a fifty-two-page hardcover fine-art photobook, is a rather unconventional yet nevertheless exceptionally handsome product. The brainchild of self-taught musicians and photographers Alessandro Incorvaia and Giordano Simoncini (based in Birmingham and Berlin, respectively), CHECK OUT revolves around three basic themes—excess, exposure, and death—though does so allusively via photographic images and, even more indirectly, instrumental sound.

In play are networks of meanings associated with ‘checking out,' among them the idea of abandoning or interrupting a situation, the related notion of death resulting from exposure, and the idea of investigation, too. Feeding into such themes are full-colour photo images of wintry cityscapes, nature scenes, and people eating, cycling, exploring, and hiking—a generous panorama of human experience. Apparently executed with a single (and presumably effects-enhanced) guitar and recorded in a single take during one night in the corridors of a school in Krakow, the music on the ten-inch vinyl disc holds up excellently as a stand-alone, so much so that one could easily imagine it being sold apart from the book.

Though both sides on the disc play without interruption, its five track titles align with the book's ‘chapter' titles, suggesting that the music associated with each section relates to the image content within the corresponding book section. To illustrate, the opening piece on the disc, “0:00-07:20: A morning session of Q & no A,” might be said to be a soundtrack for the five photos within the first part of the book, after which “07:20-13:29: Cornwall August 2012” follows with its own seven images. In general, the music itself is ambient soundscaping of a particularly serene and slow-burning vintage, the kind of material a guitarist such as Dirk Serries might conceivably issue on his Tonefloat label. Characteristic of the disc's content and tone is the second side's lilting opener “I do not understand lakes,” as pretty a guitar-generated piece as one might hope to hear.

If the connections between CHECK OUT's various strands are sometimes a bit fuzzy, it doesn't ultimately lessen the pleasures afforded by the project. Much satisfaction can be derived from looking at the photographs, especially when the act is accompanied by the music on the twenty-five-minute disc, and experienced as a whole, CHECK OUT impresses as one of the most beautifully presented releases of the year.

December 2016