Lea Bertucci Metal Aether [NNA108]2 x LP Vinyl / Digital
Release Date: February 9, 2018
1. Patterns For Alto (6:46)
2. Accumulations (12:53)
3. Sustain And Dissolve (17:52)
4. At Dawn (5:40)
We’re excited to welcome New York City-based composer and performer Lea Bertucci back to NNA for a brand new full-length LP, ‘Metal Aether.’ Lea’s early 2017 cassette release ‘All That Is Solid Melts Into Air’ focused on her role as a composer, with a hand-picked selection of talented musicians performing her minimal compositions. ‘Metal Aether’ instead showcases her role as a performer, revealing four pieces that represent approximately 3 years of ideas and gestures for alto saxophone and magnetic tape. Expanding on 2014’s ‘Light Silence, Dark Speech’ as well as 2015’s ‘Axis/Atlas,’ ‘Metal Aether’ develops a language of extended technique for alto saxophone that is based on a spectral, psychoacoustic, and non-linguistic approach to the instrument.
Much like the recordings of her previous NNA release, ‘Metal Aether’ continues to explore Lea’s acute interest in the nature of acoustics and the harmonic accumulation of sound, with it’s four pieces having been recorded in Le Havre, France in a former military base, and in New York City, at ISSUE Project Room. With her horn, Lea produces pulsing minimalist patterns, transcendent drones, and upper register squalls that envelop these spaces in waves of overtones, microtones, and psychoacoustic effects. Tracks like “Accumulations” explore evocative, ancient-sounding melodic figures, while tracks like “Sustain and Dissolve” relish in the microtonal relationships between overlapping sustained notes. Aside from the saxophone, Bertucci further interacts with physical space by fortifying these pieces with manipulated field recordings from diverse locations, ranging from Mayan pyramids to NYC subways. Other instruments such as prepared piano and vibraphone can be heard on this album, processed through tape to unite melody and texture together as one. Lea displays a firm grasp of the inherent possibilities of sound manipulation to maximize her music’s power through the recording process itself, mixing conflicting fidelities to achieve a deeper, more organic form of expression.
Throughout 2017, Lea fully dedicated her creative efforts toward exploring and informing her music through a variety of disciplines. In addition to recording ‘Metal Aether,’ she wrote and performed during multiple residencies, toured rigorously throughout North America and Europe, organized site-specific sonic events with the SITE:SOUND series, and published her first book “The Tonebook,” a collection of graphic scores by 17 avant-garde composers. Through these endeavors, Lea immerses herself in the essential principles of true musicianship: study, performance, curation, literature, and experimentation. It is with these tools that she connects herself with sound in all of it’s forms – live, recorded, situational, natural, and unnatural. All of these elements come together to inform the pieces found on this album, creating a sophisticated, multi-faceted, and highly personal body of work. ‘Metal Aether’ feels like the defining statement from an artist in elevated control of their form – a summary of concepts, ideas, and emotions given life from one’s mind and heart. Lea demonstrates the desirable ability to use her art to sincerely communicate in a language of one’s own personal invention, utilizing music and sound for their most meaningful and human purposes.
Lea Bertucci & Olivia Block in conversation from National Sawdust
Pitchfork album review by Jenn Pelly
Full album stream courtesy of The Wire magazine
“Patterns For Alto” on The New York Times’ “The Playlist”
NPR Music shares the track “Patterns For Alto”
Paste Magazine’s “20 of the Most Innovative Musicians Working Today”
The Stranger puts “Patterns For Alto” in their Inbox Jukebox