An Homage to Luciano Berio

by Limited Liability Sounds

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Finn of Tomland
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Finn of Tomland This is such a finely produced release on Valanx very promising new label Cromlech and i'm looking forward to a lot more of highly creative stuff! Favorite track: Momenti (ninety-three sine waves).
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This release is dedicated to the memory of Italian experimental Composer Luciano Berio (1925 - 2003). He is noted for his experimental work (in particular his 1968 composition Sinfonia and his series of solo pieces titled Sequenza) and also for his pioneering work in electronic music.
The artistic legacy of Luciano Berio features an amazing variety of topics, cultural codes and conventions which he has created in his body of work throughout his life. Beginning his experiments with electronics in the fifties and throughout the next two decades, Berio was always unbiased by the accomplishments and musical development in Paris and Cologne. His approach was more focused on the sounds and their effect on the listener instead.
Limited Liability Sounds aka Adam Mańkowski decided to pay homage to the compositions of the artist that represented a bold step towards the evolution of new music in the last century, bringing together minimalistic drones, samples and sounds as a collage representing the character of Luciano Berio's work.

To say I am well versed in the work of avant-garde composer Luciano Berio (1925-2003) is not true; in fact I hardly heard any of his work, although 'Folk Songs' is the one piece that I know very well, and love very much. My father gave me the record, and I remember I played that piece over and over, and ignored the others that were on there, such 'Nones', 'Concerto For Two Pianos' and 'Chemnis IV'. So perhaps I am not the right person to judge the five pieces on the homage that Polish Adam Mankowski, also known as Limited Liability Sounds, just released. For instance I can't say whether or not Mankowski uses Berio's methods of composing, or that his homage is more loosely based on Berio's work. Some, if not all, of the titles, are inspired or taken from Berio's work. Limited Liability Sounds operate from a more electronic angle, but perhaps as such relates to some of Berio's work. Maybe he uses sounds from compositions? Much like Berio, Limited Liability Sounds plays for the effects of the sounds on the listener. If there were no connection to Berio, I would perhaps have said something about processing acoustic sounds and instruments, that this is perhaps part of the world of electro-acoustic music and at the same time also from the world of ambient music. In each of the five pieces, ranging from one to seventeen minutes, Mankowski aims for bringing on some kind of mood; all of these a bit darker. The most obvious one being 'Chants Parallèles (sons fixés)', with its extensive use of reverb going wild over stringed sounds, creating a dense cloud of sound; in 'Momenti (ninety-three sine waves)', the sound of perhaps ninety-three sound waves rise and disappear, solemnly and dark. Vast webs of sound are spun in all of these pieces, except perhaps the sparse clicks of the shortest piece, 'Omaggio a Joyce (shot #1)'. I thought this was an excellent release, a fine bridge between worlds, which sometimes seem not alike, the worlds of modern classical music, drone music, ambient and electro-acoustic music, and probably an invitation to start listening to the work of Berio (again?). (FdW)

Admittedly, electronic music is not my usual forte, at least I though it wasn’t until I started to do some research into what it was, the instruments, and its history. While it might never be something that I feature a lot here on Resounding Footsteps, when I do, you can rest assured that what I am presenting to you is well worth your time. Case in point? Limited Liability Sounds. The group sounds more like a legal firm that deals with musical copywriter than an actual musical project (hell maybe they are in their down time) but damn do they come up with some excellent music. Their 2016 album “An Homage to Luciano Berio” blew me away with its potential.
To start with, why the hell is Luciano Berio? Honestly, before I was given this album to review I had no idea who he was. Doing my due diligence and research (often my favorite thing to do for albums), I found out that he was one of the pioneers of electronic music with a career that spanned decades. He is something of a cross between a classical composer, a jazz musician, and an ambient artist. Roll all of that together and what do you get? The forefather of one of the largest and frustratingly unrecognized genres of music in history. Electronic music is not just odd avant garde sounds fit together asymmetrically and called “art.” Some artists may have turned it into that but the real musicians, the real artists (Limited Liability Sounds for example) push the boundaries of melody and rhythm and harmony without pushing the boundaries of taste. They create sounds that are clearly music but inverted, inside out, upside down, and backwards. They can take old music with old instruments and create something new and magical. Electronic artists the real avant garde musicians out there.
Limited Liability Sounds takes some of Luciano Berio’s most recognizable works and reformulates them using keyboard and guitar drones. Listening on a computer with a decent pair of headphones isn’t enough for music like this. LLS is music that needs to be played as loudly as possible on the best speakers available. There are dozens of sounds (and melodies) going on at any given time with an equal number of instruments or techniques. Yet, with some much going on, there are nuances that can be missed if you aren’t careful or you aren’t listening for them. Some of the drones are low, boiling just at the edge of human hearing, around the fear frequency, while other drones are so ear piercingly high I had to wince. It was all beautiful, in its own way. The atmosphere is dark and tragic yet it has a hidden strength that encapsulates and captivates the listener. There is something in the music, like an audio drug, that makes us keep listening. The music moves at a feverishly slow pace, as if to antagonize the listener, teasing them with dozens of layers of sound and story before moving to the next movement.
The music feels half like a classically composed album, with rigid structure and form, and half like a jazz album, all spontaneity and chaos. The two halves of the music are in constant battle for the listeners’ attention. Both are of equal power and strength, each has a certain grace and gravitas about it. Each melody is graced with both halves, creating something that is both, yet neither. A unique sound that is more than the sum of its parts.
If you have never given electronic music much thought, now is the time to stop. Now is the time to listen to it, research it, feel it and understand it. Limited Liability Sounds created an album here, an album of covers that would give SunnO))) a run for its smoky, drony money, that would make Luciano Berio proud. Somewhere, he is smiling. An album that is made to honor someone can achieve no higher mark. Limited Liability Sounds will forever be on my radar and in my playlist because of this album. They have made a damn good album with true talent and skill.


released February 6, 2017

Music and Production by Adam Mańkowski. Recorded in Lodz, Poland.
2017 Cromlech Records



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Cromlech Records Glasgow, UK

Cromlech is a drone, dark ambient and experimental electronic label releasing CDs, tapes and digital downloads. The label is run by Arne Weinberg.

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