Trombone and sinewaves, splendidly recorded - as usual - by Christoph Amann (by the way: is this man going to release something himself one day? Given his fabulous ear, I’m convinced that it would be a great outing).
As much as my body loves the kind of frequency that Malfatti and Filip produce thoughout the 50 minutes of Imaoto, it must be admitted that the inside struggle to find a response beyond the merely mental is still ongoing. Someone whose words are trusted had alerted me: it grows little by little, you need four/five listens before understanding its full value (this is valid for all serious music, we should add). Sure enough, I tried to spin to the CD time and again in a quiet setting (namely at home: listening to this type of music in a different context is totally pointless, except when it is played live and the audience is respectful) but, although undoubtedly a well-conceived work, it doesn’t generate an emotional commitment here. Not that this should be considered as an obligation yet it is always nice when it happens; in several previous Erstwhile releases it certainly did.
It must also be noted that the headphone test resulted in a double-edged knife. One’s able to detect any single droplet of Malfatti’s saliva as he dampens the mouthpiece, and his deep, if restrained breathing amidst the emitted tones (we’re approaching sonic voyeurism, such is the quality of the details). These things are more difficult to catch without a headset. The preventable scraping on the instrument’s bell, which sounds out of place for this writer, is a tiny blemish. On the other hand, the purring undertones generated by the trombone and the powerful humming surges of Filip’s sinewaves are difficult to manage at their most effective due to the structural buzzing altering the actual sound of the instruments, which is detestable. Therefore, stick with the speakers: this stuff needs to diffuse, ricochet and make the skull tremble, not to clutter your ears with extraneous presences.
Basically, if you’re willing to be subjected to some serious ultrasonic/subsonic emanations, a tad of explorative whispering/delicate boiling, a few humid oral nuances and, ultimately, to forget about emotion for a while, then Imaoto is nearly perfect. Especially at a very high volume. As far as the album’s overall artistic significance is concerned, I’m inclined to thinking that the level is not the same of, say, a (Rowe & Nakamura’s) Between. Admittedly, though, not many records can reach that complexity.