Emanuele Errante: Humus

When “Fecunda” inaugurates Humus by looping a sample lifted from Mahler's Symphony no. 5 “Adagietto,” we ready ourselves for an hour-long exercise in Marsen Jules-styled “orchestral-ambient” music. Certainly the treatment by Italian composer Emanuele Errante doesn't lose the elegiac splendor of Mahler's original but one awaits the subsequent material wondering if Errante will continue to plunder existing works. Thankfully the tracks that follow blossom as arrestingly without drawing so noticeably upon the works of others. It's significant that “humus” refers to the dark organic material in soils that's produced by the decomposition of vegetable or animal matter, as Errante's pieces likewise present themselves as fertile entities out of which musical forms elegantly grow.

Many pieces are ambient meditations by design (e.g., the undulating “Lucus” and shuddering “Humi”) whereas others introduce a pronounced rhythmic dimension. Burbling micro-rhythms give “Radio Hopes,” for one, a subtle thrust while bright tones and voice exhalations punctuate the skies above, and jittery piano patterns are calmed by vocal placidity during “Ant's Trail.” As pretty as Humus is, however, it can sometimes feel rather static and would benefit from more propulsion, which also would lend the album greater contrast and heft. “Aquatic,” for instance, is credible enough in its existing form but one longs for the underlying tension held in check throughout to be unleashed so that the cut can turn into the dynamic techno raver it could be; here's the rare case where a club remix would be anything but superfluous.

July 2008