Ninni Morgia and Marcello Magliocchi - Sound Gates (LP Ultramarine Records)

The trick is to either subvert awareness of the recording process or to exaggerate it and amplify the artifice. The latter may be an intellectually satisfying exercise but the former is a far more, emotionally, rewarding experience. Improvisation may well represent the zenith of music; it straddles the recorded and live mediums.  To play within the moment with no eye on a final pay off doesn't necessarily mean their won't be an album. Whether there is or isn't is irrelevant. It could be argued that recorded music skewed 'music' down a single path - all was done purely for a resulting recording. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Guitarist Morgia and percussionist Mogliocchi's interplay works within improvisation but has that element which makes the listener feel the album is a snippet of an ongoing session. Yes there are definite breaks and changes in form, but they occur naturally and have a life their own. There isn't a presence of composition to dictate what begins and ends when and where. The tape captures what happened, regardless. The playing is pleasingly focussed, completely lacking in the 'middle-aged men faffing about' that so plagues the improv world.

The quieter moments contrast with the more raucous moments. Each plays off one another. Morgia has a bunch of effects units to tap-dance on. The better moments are when he's playing clean and makes less recognisable sounds with the guitar. The rare moments where he whacks on the distortion and reverb is the time to go make a quick cup of tea. Wishy washy doesn't wash around here.

The finer moments are the sharper ones. The percussive taps and tinkles, the whirrs and clatter, like insects knocking things over. It's these dynamic moments which sparkle with colour.

This is the first in a series of albums they'll be doing and going by this one it'll be worth hearing the rest.

Lidia Stranges' excellent photo on the front cover isn't what you'd expect for this kind of album. It's a bokeh style shot, like soft bubbles. Rather than the stark (joyless?) black and white images you'd usually find, this one's a beautifully colourful one that more accurately reflects the vibrancy of the recordings. HM