Not Waving – Human Capabilities
Italian-in-London Alessio Natalizia has already proven himself to be something of a master when it comes to creating evocative, off-kilter music that joins the dots between fuzzy analogue electronica, krautrock, dreamy ambience and droning, industrial-influenced abstract sonics. He’s perhaps best known for making up half of Kompakt regulars Walls, whose dreamy, shoegaze-influenced voyages into sound benefit greatly from his ear for layered guitar textures, pastoral sounds and hypnotic, pulsating rhythms.
In recent times, though, it’s his solo work that has won him most acclaim. Having impressed pre-Walls under the Banjo Or Freakout pseudonym, 2013 saw him adopt another alias in Not Waving. It’s this name, with its knowing wink to post-punk era darkwave, which offers the most scope for musical exploration. He’s released two albums under the alias to date; the sludgy, industrial-influenced analogue murkiness of debut Umwelt, and the cassette-only experimental concept album Redacted. Both impressed in their own particular ways, showcasing his hard-to-define (but never less than inspired) approach to music making.
This third Not Waving album, Human Capabilities, is a different beast. Released on Stuart Leath’s “non dancefloor” imprint Emotional Response, it takes an altogether more open-minded approach to Natalizia’s usual themes. The result is a set that shuffles between moments of great clarity, dark late night moods, pulsating analogue grooves and dreamy, ethereal compositions. Along the way, there are nods to familiar influences. “Double Blind”, all early Italian electronic music chic, hypnotic analogue synth arpeggios and clandestine atmospherics, doffs a cap to EBM and quirky horror soundtracks.
Opener “Ability To Gain Access”, replete with cosmic whooshes, stargazing electronics and an unearthly (but suitably heavy) synthesizer pulse, seems inspired by vintage European new age and the compositions of early French synth pioneers. The same could be said of the intensely beautiful but surprisingly soft focus “Future Rain”, whose cascading melodies and picturesque electronics are breathlessly rush inducing. And so it continues, as Natalizia’s influences are moulded into gorgeous or murky new shapes. Check the droning, distorted chords and enveloping textures of “Mathematical Man”, whose skittish rhythms, backwards guitars and deep electric bass tip a wink to krautrock and shoegaze, or the similarly kraut-influenced fuzz-wave of “Defensive Function”.
“Power Source Above Beam Line”, a woozy, hazy exploration of hissing analogue electronica emboldened by the presence of a loose but hypnotic drum pattern. Yet for all of these unusual, hard-to-define triumphs, the album’s best moments are arguably those that Natalizia leaves bare. When he strips back the enveloping production, droning guitars and claustrophobic textures, what’s left behind are soundscapes of thrilling beauty and simplicity. In this camp falls the dreamy chords, tape hiss and field recordings of “Mental Means Alone”, a composition of heart-aching poignancy.
Best of all, though, are the two tracks that close the album, “Atosha Pan Ederci” and “Conscious Subliminal”. Both seem to saunter from the speakers, pausing to admire their own effortless, emotion-rich form. While the former – all hazy, tropical guitars and spine-tingling synth-washes – could arguably be described as Balearic, there’s little argument as to the inspiration for the latter. With dewy-eyed electronics and tear-jerking piano to the fore, it sounds like a modernist take on Eric Satie, with added futurism. Like the rest of Human Capabilities, it’s simply breathtaking.
1. Ability To Gain Access
2. Above Beam Line
3. Mathematical Man
4. Future Rain
5. Mental Means Alone
6. Defensive Function
7. Double Blind
8. Etosha Pan Aderci
9. Conscious Subliminal