Matt Venuti – [Album]

Friday, 26 February 2010

There are moments – and listening to Matt Vanuti's Hangisphere is one of them – when one has to pay attention to what's going on because there's a central, cornerstone element that is very alien. There is an unusual sound that amounts to a puzzle that a listener will find himself paying very close attention to – if only to figure out what it is. In the case of Hangisphere, that sound is made by the PanArt Hang – a melodic/percussive instrument that sounds like a hybrid of a ride cymbal and a Jamaican steel drum. It is a very exotic sound that emanates from a made-to-order instrument imported from Switzerland and it is the central feature in the ten tracks that comprise Hangisphere.

I know what you're thinking because I thought it too, initially), “Yeah so? You're saying it's World music.”

No exactly. Read on and you'll see, grasshopper.

Yes, the PanArt Hang is the central instrument used on Hangisphere and that inclusion does give the record a “World” slant, but it's only the brush that Venuti uses here to make this world image. The songs themselves incorporate myriad musical styles that take on an otherworldly quality when passed through the Hang and that's what makes this music so interesting; Venuti is learning to emote with the Hang as the record plays and listeners can share that sense of discovery with the player.

With little bits of electro-lounge, jazz fusion, rock, world music (of course) and even folk sewn into the dynamics of Hangisphere, the instrumental tracks begin to exhibit new epiphanies (for the player, which is arresting to observe for the audience) as they play out and even yield a few surprises in the cross-genre mixtures. In “The Yolanda Trail 4,” for example, Venuti intermingles key aspects of folk, lounge and Mandarin contemporary musics to arrive at a hybrid all his own and enriched by the Hang – not dominated by it. Elsewhere, in “Naked Moonlight,” the composer trades exotic rhythms for erotic ones and “Hang Bauhaus” incorporates forms, dynamics and melodies from both rock and pop (I swear, you can hear “Janie's Got A Gun” by Aerosmith and the entirety of True Blue by Madonna in this song – without the lyrics, of course) to bring a bit of the world to the great indoors. In every case, the relation between the music on Hangisphere and any other music is completely abstract but listeners will find that their own minds will begin to fill in the gaps as they begin to wander. In that, each listener is guaranteed a unique experience because the qualification process of Hangisphere will be unique to each individual listener; they'll transpose what they know already onto Matt Venuti's music and draw their own conclusions  based on that. That process will make for a special experience for anyone that hears Hangisphere and it's definitely one worth having.



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