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Simone Beneventi — Wooden Songs
(Stradivarus STR37136, 2020, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2020-04-21

Wooden Songs Cover art

I have a healthy dislike for genre labels — so much of the music I like defies categorization, and the labels typically assigned to music often seem so arbitrary. When I use genre labels to talk about music, I am using them as descriptions, and when it comes to this recording by percussionist Simone Beneventi, I am somewhat at a loss. These tracks are quite different in fundamental ways from the percussion music of — for example — Adam Rudolph, who has built an analytical system from jazz and rhythms from around the world. Beneventi, with Wooden Songs, is interpreting the compositions of David Lang (American, founder of Bang on a Can), Silvia Borzelli (Italian), Johan Svensson (Swedish), and Riccardo Nova (Italian), all of whom are known for works in modern experimental music, with only Lang delving into jazz or rock. This percussion music is not primarily about rhythm (as in repeated patterns or steady beats), but about sculpting sounds out of percussive sources, in this case, almost exclusively made of wood. Apparently, some of the instruments have been built specially for Beneventi, and certainly the listener will likely be unable to identify precisely what is making the sounds at any given time. Some tones have pitch, like tongue drums or possibly even marimbas, and many more make clicks, clacks, and thuds of indeterminate pitch. There are also a variety of scraping, skritching, and whirring sounds. Put together, it’s a fascinating sonic journey, and despite the lack of conventional melodies or harmonies or sometimes even tempos, there’s a kind of sense to it. So set aside your expectations of what music should be (if you have them) and what musical instruments should sound or look like, and check out Wooden Songs.


Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): Simone Beneventi

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