Enrico Coniglio-Elisa Marzorati: dyanMU

Coniglio's decision to collaborate with pianist Marzorati for his second Psychonavigation album is an inspired move that pays off handsomely. The two initiated the project in the summer of 2006 by merging his sampling, filtering, and looping techniques and electronic soundscaping style with her elegant etudes. The two are heard together in many pieces but also in solo settings. Representative of the paired pieces, “Brushwork” accompanies dancing piano notes with a lightly galloping percussive rhythm and waves of high- and low-pitched synth tones. In “Mothlight,” Coniglio's vibrant electronics take center stage with Marzorati providing peripheral enhancements. Ample spaces separate the piano chords in “Cableway,” suggesting the huge expanse traversed by the cable car's trip, while the droning tones echo resonantly throughout the cavernous open space. Coniglio's haunted moodscape “Birds Delight” evokes mystery and unease as willowy tones and bass throbs seemingly drift through the corridors of a long-abandoned building. The focus shifts to Marzorati in the lovely “Foliage,” which nurtures a tranquil and dreamy mood, and “Bell-Ringer,” whose bright and vibrant piano melodies are in keeping with its title.

Of course the “piano & electronics” concept isn't without precedent—the most obvious example being the collaborations between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai. But a recording like Insen is far different from dyanMU; the former typically juxtaposes Sakamoto's elegant playing on one side and Nicolai's pristine electronic beat patterns on the other; though the concluding “Timepiece” does adopt that format to some degree, dyanMU generally blends the two realms more indissolubly. Classically-trained, Mazorati's approach extends beyond a single style to embrace classical but also jazz-inflected improvisation, and Coniglio's contribution isn't primarily rhythm-oriented but instead rooted in atmospheric enhancement and sound design. That the album is partly based on the preludes of Debussy is clearly audible in the solo piano pieces which exude the refined elegance of the composer's work; at times, however, Marzorati takes that idea and pushes it into the realm of free improvisation, resulting in the jazz-inflected “Walking Distance.” Picture Mazorati playing in a conservatory practice room and open windows allowing Coniglio's myriad colourations to flood in and envelop the pianist's performing space and you'll have a fairly accurate impression of dyanMU's sound.

March 2008