ENG birdistheworm.com, Dave Sumner (mar.2017)
The winning characteristic of the electro-acoustic project from trombonist Filippo Vignato is how he keeps teasing at the complete and total immersion into electronic effect dissonance, right up to the point where an organic melody breaks through like a bold sun parting thick clouds. He hints at this approach on the second track of his 2016 release Plastic Breath. It’s a muddy haze of electronics to start things out, but then Vignato’s trombone comes through with a crisp melody and immediately begins expanding its horizon line. Meanwhile, the Fender Rhodes and drums of Yannick Lestra and Attila Gyarfas stake out territory of their own. In the former instance, it’s outlining the path of the melody, while in the latter, it’s forging a path ahead with clear lines of demarcation. The electronic effects are still there, but now they’re merely background scenery to the post-bop main attraction. But there’s an ebb and flow to it, and the transitions from one state to the other rarely, if ever, culminate fully into either extreme. “Red Sky Hymn” further cements this pattern, while showing that it can play out at higher speeds, too.
The thing to keep in mind is that none of this would be nearly as successful were it not for the embraceable melodies offered up by the trio. Whereas the electronic fog can come off as impenetrable, it’s essential for the melodies to counterbalance that with inviting expressions, emitting a warmth that compels the ear to reach out and meet the sound halfway. This is something Vignato’s trio does time and time again on this intriguing album. It’s a quality seen most clearly with the gorgeous melodic trombone sighs on “Provvisorio” and how Fender Rhodes keeps laying them on thicker, accompanied by the susurrant crash of cymbals.
There’s a sense that this is an updated version of the 1990’s electro-acoustic projects of Bobby Previte and Wayne Horvitz. But where they often anchored their songs to a cinematic brew of folk music, Vignato works from a European Jazz perspective… but the interplay between organic and electronic voicings is a shared quality of both.
Really, just a seriously intriguing album. It’s attuned to cerebral appetites, but there are moments on this recording that are an open channel straight to the heart.