Robert Curgenven: Oltre (Line)
I’ve been revisiting this 2010 opus from ambient experimentalist Robert Curgenven and rediscovering its appeal in the process. Its ambience is the sort that I find hard to articulate my thoughts about. It’s incredibly minimal and stark, with very little in the way of what one might call traditional musicality. Instead most of the pieces here are hums, faint suggestions. Only with “Largo capriccioso” does the music swell into something more active, but it still then exists in the form of a dense cloud. Much of the album hinges on the use of an experimental dubplate and turntable, magnifying a lot of the sort of warm crackle and pop of vinyl into a textural layer unto itself. Instead of adding a layer of texture to existing content, the texture is the content. Curgenven adds to this a variety of subtly shifting overtones and field recordings. The music doesn’t so much communicate to me as it does surround me… it says very little to me much in the way that a painting by Agnes Martin or Ad Reinhardt says very little, yet somehow there is something moving and visceral, reminding that there needn’t always be a message other than the medium to effectively take hold of a listener.