Guitarist Luciano Margorani has been active in the Italian experimental music scene since the mid-80s, as a solo artist, as a member of La 1919, Ferdinando Farao’s Archipel Orchestra, and Fracture, as well as collaborations with the likes of Chris Cutler, Derek Bailey, Elliott Sharp, Henry Kaiser, Ferdinand Richard, Bruno Meillier, Charles Hayward, Giovanni Venosta, Roberto Musci, Gregg Bendian, and many others. For this 40-minute improvisation he has teamed up with his drummer from La 1919, Federico Zenoni, laying down the basic track, and invited The Muffins’ Dave Newhouse to lay down additional tracks of clarinet, bass clarinet, and keyboards to complete the piece. Launching somewhere on the rock side of fusion, the initial burst of energy is a powerful trio of guitar, electric piano, and drums, winding down into some interesting percussive play with strange noise accompniment. While the piece is indeed 40 minutes non-stop, there are a number of index points breaking it down into nine distinct sections, the second of which is slower paced, introducing the bass clarinet to the overall mix over bursts of sparkling electric piano, leading directly into a playful conversation between guitars and bass clarinet, with Zenoni’s drums erupting into splendid chaotic brilliance midway through. By the beginning of the fourth section we are again in a more laid-back mode with a conversation between drums and piano, with guitar adding the highlights as the piece builds. These alternating and contrasting dynamics that follow through the piece with different instrumentation taking lead roles at different times as it goes is the glue that holds it all together and keeps the piece interesting from beginning to end. While there are many highly energized full-throttle sections to grab the listener by the jugular, with repeated listens the beauty of the slower parts where there is a more spacious approach come to light and reveal themselves (all of section six, and a good chunk of section eight, for example) for their subtle and magical intensity. All taken, as far as improvisation goes, Beauty Is in the Distance is firing on all cylinders for its entire 40 minute duration.
Peter Thelen – Exposè