Low Tide Digitals III is the latest collaborative album from Luigi Archetti (guitar, electronics) and Bo Wiget (cello, electronics). The two Swiss residents, both established artists in other fields such as painting, dancing, and video, on this album of 14 improvised pieces explore the interplay between texture and melody that results when electronics are mixed with more traditional instruments.
In 2006 Archetti and Wiget produced a short video titled "I Have Seen You Dancing Better Than This" which features the two dancing wildly to a thoughtful, quiet soundtrack. It shows a welcome sense of humor, as at first the brisk 3-minute rock and roll workout of the two on screen seems to contradict the thoughtful, abstract music on the soundtrack. But upon further consideration it's as if their dancing was a physical manifestation, reflecting a different kind of emotion in the music. The action doesn't come from a discernable beat, but from the interaction between the two—from an exchange of ideas. Imagining an active duo like the one in the video can help bring out unexpected facets of the music—it accentuates the living, joking, human side.
However, this time Wiget and Archetti have produced a consistently gloomier, more menacing album. If this is low tide, it's low tide at an imaginary beach where the water becomes thick and dark as it recedes.
The first track (titled "Stück 24" in reference to the entire body of work) is built around a prominent rising bass note, that seems to just barely reach the level of the buzz and grit that surrounds it before it dissipates. It keeps drifting up, but the surface becomes more and more tumultuous as the song progresses. It can be difficult to tell who produces what sound at any given time—while Wiget's cello is fairly easy to spot with its moaning and buzzing, Archetti seems to concern himself more with feedback and texture. And the electronic processing seems to shoot between the two, sewing everything together. It's nice how at any given time there aren't that many entirely distinct things happening, but the duo choose very filling and appropriate textures. The two men alone can produce dense sound when they want.
Highlights include the dive-bombing, swooping cello of "Stück 27," and the surprise anchor of a clearly plucked note on "Stück 31." The duo sometimes dip too far over into the digital side, letting some high pitched processing chatter away much of the song, but one’s patience is rewarded in most cases, such as the delicate melody that arrives only at the very end of "Stück 26."
The numerical track titles offer little in the way of guidance, so one is left to ponder the image suggested by the album title while listening to the music. "Low Tide Digitals" could connect the music to that moment between ebb and flow, when the water is still but crackles and fizzes with potential, or maybe set the scene for the duo, knee-deep, performing in the ocean. The electronics would be underwater and you would see only the cello, guitar, and two performers. Despite all the grumbling abstractions, this work still represents two people working together, thinking together, and playing together.
By Pat Dahn.
September 30, 2009