HUMANBEING – Humanbeing (RareNoise, 2021)
Walking the thin line between excess and refrain, Humanbeing is a somber and masterful act of intimacy, an album devoted to explore the organicity of sounds, revolving through layers of increasingly blurred colors. Producer and pianist Rossano Baldini, the man behind the monicker Humanbeing, ventures in foggy landscapes bringing shimmering lights, gently driving the listeners through unexplicable undertows. Undulating between plaintive and joyful, yet deliberately choosing not to reach any of the two, his music is giftedly blurred and captivating.
Rossano Baldini has a career as pianist and producer for movies and tv. He studied with artists of the caliber of John Taylor, Kenny Werner, Stefano Battaglia e Franco D’Andrea and, in a certain sense, his eponymous album released on RareNoise, brings the gentle thouch of all of them as a trademark. Yet this is just the dark matter behind an evolving sound that adds classical redolescences together with IDM tastes. The lines between digital renditions and acoustic instruments are often blurred through the record, with Baldini frequently working to create proficient dialogues between piano, cello, played by Carmine Iuvone, and electronics. Add to the them the use of the an unusual accordion-type instrument, the bercandeon, a two-keyboards instrument invented by Italian Swiss Fiorenzo Bernasconi.
The album is created around two tryptichs, each of the two with a homogeneous sound, each of the six tracks named after an organ of the human body. The first starts with few notes by the prepared piano oozing looslely, like they were played underwater, through scintillating delays, resonating against the few notes depicted by bercandeon and through looping, undulating chords. Flesh is built over a two chords sequence, no melody added, moving between tonal and melodic components and matching the listener with a sense of comfortness. The pulsating veins in Blood are resembled by an odd-accented theme on the bass register of the Rhodes, alternating with a crescendo of glitching sounds and aerial soundscapes. This progressive construction of the texture ends in the chiming calls of the piano and, followingly, in the slow return of the initial Rhodes. This links with the third track, Skin, which alternates piano and soundscape, this time in a more dialoguing manner. The initial tryptic is probably the one that pays a closer hommage to the neoclassical music of Max Richter and Nils Frahm, quite evidently in the closure of the third track, when piano starts a gloomy dialogue with angelic voices.
The second tryptic is instead closer to IDM influences. The scratchy, clanging and revolving sounds that create an eerie soundscape in Lungs are reordered by a driving theme in crescendo. The occasional guitars in the back might be a mix of Aphex Twin and Fennesz, creating this peaceful, á la Endless Summer, mood. The theme can’t but eventually grow in a more standard techno beat in Liver, in a way that can easily fit the masters of 90s techno Underworld. The producer deftly mixes easy-listening dancefloor sounds with catchy reminiscences of 90s chillout -listen to the chords loop at 1.48 or the occasional voice snippets. That all perfectly matches the clever use of acoustic instruments -again, deep listening is required to follow the acoustic drum patters in the back of the mix. The closure with random scratches and glitching sounds is ultimately much more than an acoustic-meets-digital, rather a smart and revealing dialogue between the two. Piano comes back for the closing part, Heart, which is restful, even optmistic and slightly unexpected. After an elegiac cello theme in the middle section of the track, it suprisingly ends with the cello playing a big, major chord on a driving, straight beat.
An enthralling journey through acoustically enhanced electronic beats, Humanbeing was an immediate pleasure to my ears, with an unpredictable ability to match IDM tastes with masterfully worked soundscapes and piano neoclassical progressions.
Rossano Baldini: piano, electronics, Rhodes, synthesizers, electric guitar, bercandeon Carmine Iuvone: cello (on ‘Heart’)
All Music composed by Rossano Baldini
Published by RareNoisePublishing (PRS)
All Music Produced, Recorded & Mixed by Rossano Baldini @ Nana Studio, Rome, Italy
Mastered by Fabrizio De Carolis @ Reference Studio, Roma, Italy and by Filippo Strang @VDSS Recording Studio, Frosinone, Italy
Photography & image treatment by Manuele Geromini Design by Ian Anderson for The Designers’ Republic Executive Producer for RareNoiseRecords: Giacomo Bruzzo