Kolmitt – Chain Session

A crackle of noise breaks over the single synthetic note played in continuum while high frequencies feed back onto themselves with no apparent end in sight. A sweet little ghost of a melody hovers in the background inconspicuously, just waiting to be noticed. Kolmitt inaugurates their latest long player, Chain Session, with subtle touches that welcome the listener in to a vast concrete building with a warm embrace. Kolmitt is Daniele Sergio, Federico Scettri and Roberto Begini, a project that started out in 2012 by way of exploring elements from the disparate corners of ambient, drone and noise music. Made up of various tracks that fuse into a singular strand, Chain Session subverts the identity of the individual composition in favour of the grand narrative of the long player. This narrative relies on the subtle impression of high frequency sine waves and warm synthesised electronics taking centre stage. These sounds languish in their own beautiful design through slow harmonic movements with each note and its result loitering in their own shadow. Chain Session was created through live improvisation that was later revisited and refined within the studio context, and it’s this latter process that negates much of the self-indulgence that the human element in improvisation often encourages. The sounds are given the time they need to manifest entirely within the composition, and avoids human nature’s erratic disposition for continuous transition and evolution. By evaluating the improvisations in a controlled studio atmosphere, Kolmitt impedes each phrase long enough from human intervention to anchor it securely in the listener’s consciousness.

This often initiates the effect of a drone, allowing the listener to slip comfortably in and out of the composition, the way we can slip in and out of the sound of a fridge buzzing in the background. The drone of both low and high frequencies then adopts the role of silence, contrasting against the ‘noise’ of the other elements that move around it. This does not however relay a sense of rhythm in the same way the traditional idea of the construct would act – the positioning of noise and silence along a temporal line. Chain Session negates this traditional idea of rhythm by the constant, the drone. This re-contextualises the idea of a kick drum for instance in the fourth part, where the percussive element avoids the role of timekeeper in favour of texture in the sonic environment. This aspect also allows for the concrete sample or synthesised melodic gesture to flit in and out of the listener’s focus within the auditory sphere, just like the ghost melody from the start. At the same time these temporary elements that can often be described in the form of percussion, counteract the static effect of the drone again, which then applies a sense of movement and progression to the static landscape of the ambient composition. My personal favourite is when the high-pitched sine frequencies abruptly make an appearance; one can immediately sense a discomfort in the music, which swiftly falls away when your attention is drawn to it.

These effects however are only the result of the construct as whole. If Komitt had delved into deeper textures with denser results the contrasting elements would not come to the fore as they have done. Then again, if they went the other way again, and played more with the idea of silence and noise with the intent of providing a rhythmical solution through percussion, much of Chain Session would come across as mere functional dance music. Kolmitt got the mix just right, never saturating the auditory field with multiple layers, while at the same time having a constant in the form of a drone or slow moving sine wave across the frequency spectrum. Kolmitt thus creates music that foregoes the static nature of ambient music while at the same time providing a sonic environment for a listener in a similar way to ambient music. Chain Session’s soft production touches aren’t overbearing and allows for the listener to immerse him/herself completely in the 44 minutes of music, revealing hidden treasures for those who are willing to concentrate, but at the same time never intruding on those who are merely there to observe from a distance. The continuative narrative never truly gestates during the length of the album, but instead hangs in the air like an unanswered question, ready to be approached only when the listener can afford the solitude of a vacuous mind. It’s in that where Chain Session’s true charm lies. You can just play it in the background as you go about your business but the reward is so much greater when you set the time aside to appreciate the intricacies it has to offer. Eventually, a harp like synthesiser delays into a beautiful counterpoint in an alien rhythm building up slowly before disappearing into a sine wave and various elements of subtle noise, leaving us in the same disposition as when it arrived, concluding the work, but leaving a severe impression on the listener.