Enrico Coniglio: AREAVIRUS - Topofonie Vol. 1

On his oddly-titled AREAVIRUS Topofonie Vol 1, Enrico Coniglio directs the flow of ten perpetually mutating settings perched midway between electroacoustic soundscaping and a distinctive ambient-jazz-electronica fusion. The Venice-based composer anchors the album with his own guitar playing, synthesizers, and programming but, wisely, also adopts a gentlemanly stance in allowing distinguished guests like trumpeter Arve Henriksen and bass clarinetist Piero Bittolo Bon to have their own moments in the spotlight. That the album apparently was inspired by the ambiance of a Venice lagoon is evidenced by dark ambient settings like the occasionally nightmarish “Murania” and “Areavirus,” a curdling, nocturnal gloomscape of tinkling bells and decaying noises.

The explorative meander of certain pieces (“Stalking Venice,” “Velme inc. Ground One,” “ExistenZ minimum”) showcases the album's evocative side, while the ballad settings bring the splendor of acoustic playing to the fore (Hans-Joachim Roedelius's nuanced piano ruminations in “Alpen Tower”). The deep croak of Bittolo Bon's bass clarinet intensifies the ethereal character of the dirge “Waterphonics,” an effect augmented further by the panning drift of a string sample that surfaces midway through, and the bluesy lilt “Olivola.” In “Lav(a)sciuga,” a lightly dancing rhythm forms a quietly jubilant anchor for Coniglio's atmospheric guitar interjections, Nicola Alesini's clarinet murmur, and Guido Marzorati's elegant piano enhancements. The album's peak moment arrives halfway through in the beautiful ballad “W+J theme,” largely due to Henriksen's mournful, flute-like cry but the piece is distinguished too by Coniglio's sensitive guitar accompaniment and Marzorati's piano support. Coniglio's multi-varied collection provides a rich and oft-surprising listening experience.

September 2007