RETINA.IT: Semeion (Hefty Records)
Hefty Records 2007
13 Tracks. 69mins21secs
Buy it: CD
Retina.IT | Hefty Records
Lino Monaco and Nicola Buono first met in the mid nineties while they were both DJs in a club in Naples, Italy. They began making music as the Qmen, before turning to more experimental musical forms as Retina.IT. This resulted in a first series of EPs and an album, Volcano Waves 1-8, for Chicago imprint Hefty, all published in 2001. Since, there have been sporadic releases, including a few compilation appearances, a handful of remixes, an album released under the Resina moniker, and a second, self-titled album, released in 2003 and 2004 respectively, on their own Mousike Lab imprint.
Semeion is not a totally new body of work as most of the thirteen tracks collected here have previously been published on various EPs released between 2001 and 2006. Only two tracks have never been released before, and a third one was commissioned for the soundtrack for a video by Claudio Sinatti, which was presented at the 2005 edition of the Videominuto festival.
Monaco and Buono create elegant minimal electronic formations over typically linear beats, with occasional found sounds softening the overall angular approach. Retina.IT often build their compositions around very few elements at a time, focussing primarily on the impact of each sound on the mood of a piece and how each new component affects its balance. Yet, with so little to play with, Monaco and Buono manage to craft rather funky and hypnotic little numbers with irresistible grooves tucked away in every corner. Tracks such as Pick, Uranio or Violynth force their way through futuristic dance floors with rather sharp electronics and angular rhythmic sequences, while elsewhere, the pulsating beats and bass found on Zilencer, Per Assurdo or Civilta Meccanica, combined with sparse noises evoke experimental early sixties TV sci-fi.
At times, the pair take stock, step back and invest their energy into slightly denser compositions. On Apeiron or T-UFO for instance, they carves complex rhythmic formations deep into beautiful haunting soundscapes, revealing a more meditative and atmospheric side of their music, while On Zucchine Alla Scapece, these hypnotic washes are applied in more subtle fashion as the pair work a lone drone against which they hang delicate processed vocal samples to emphasise the melancholic tone of the piece.
Semeion presents an interesting cross section of the work produced by Retina.IT in the last six years. While the band has remained rather the shadow of bigger electronic acts, Semeion demonstrates the consistency of the music produced over the years and how the pair have developed and strengthened their sound.