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New York City-based composer/performer Lea Bertucci returns on NNA for the brand new full-length LP, Metal Aether. Lea's early 2017 cassette release All That Is Solid Melts Into Air focused on her role as a composer, with a hand-picked selection of talented musicians performing her minimal compositions. Metal Aether instead showcases her role as a performer, revealing 4 pieces that represent approximately 3 years of ideas and gestures for alto saxophone and magnetic tape. Expanding on 2014's Light Silence, Dark Speech as well as 2015's Axis/Atlas, Metal Aether develops a language of extended technique for alto saxophone that is based on a spectral, psychoacoustic, and non-linguistic approach to the instrument.
Metal Aether continues to explore Lea's acute interest in the nature of acoustics and the harmonic accumulation of sound, with it's 4 pieces having been recorded in Le Havre, France in a former military base, and in New York City, at ISSUE Project Room. With her horn, Lea produces pulsing minimalist patterns, transcendent drones, and upper register squalls that envelop these spaces in waves of overtones, microtones, and psychoacoustic effects. Tracks like "Accumulations" explore evocative, ancient-sounding melodic figures, while tracks like "Sustain and Dissolve" relish in the microtonal relationships between overlapping sustained notes.
Aside from the saxophone, Bertucci further interacts with physical space by fortifying these pieces with manipulated field recordings from diverse locations, ranging from Mayan pyramids to NYC subways. Other instruments such as prepared piano and vibraphone can be heard on this album, processed through tape to unite melody and texture together as one. Lea displays a firm grasp of the inherent possibilities of sound manipulation to maximize her music's power through the recording process itself, mixing conflicting fidelities to achieve a deeper, more organic form of expression.
Metal Aether feels like the defining statement from an artist in elevated control of their form – a summary of concepts, ideas, and emotions given life from one's mind and heart. Lea demonstrates the desirable ability to use her art to sincerely communicate in a language of one's own personal invention, utilizing music and sound for their most meaningful and human purposes.