After releasing a couple of albums through Important Records, Italian sound artist Caterina Barbieri now rocks up on Editions Mego for the release of her new LP Ecstatic Computation. The pairing makes sense - Editions Mego is an imprint dedicated to issuing work by forward-thinking artists, and Barbieri is certainly one of those.
To create Ecstatic Computation, Barbieri explored complex sequencing procedures and pattern-based music-making. While there is plenty of machine music from the past few decades that has used similar techniques, Barbieri’s deployment of them is potent and hypnotic. The cell-by-cell evolutions of Steve Reich’s electric period are frequently invoked here, and the constant rearranging of tone rows makes Ecstatic Computation come off as the aural equivalent of someone doing a rubix cube.
Much like the work of her fellow Italian Lorenzo Senni, Barbieri’s practice frequently centres on deconstructing and repurposing the sounds of trance music. Indeed, there are moments across this album when Barbieri touches on the same beatific soundscapes that we hear on releases like Senni’s ‘The Shape Of Trance To Come’. However, Barbieri’s work can also be a lot more neurotic and paranoid than anything Senni has shown us to date. The ghosts of darkwave, minimal wave and other Gothic styles all flit around the edges of Ecstatic Computation.
At times disorientating, at times mesmerising, and always fascinating, Caterina Barbieri’s Ecstatic Computation is the work of an artist successfully testing the boundaries of her own sound.