Caterina Barbieri - Patterns of Consciousness - 2LP / CD
2020 update: Now available on CD for the first time.
Patterns Of Consciousness is the powerful second full length album from analog synth composer Caterina Barbieri. Gorgeous high resolution analog textures and algorithmic melodies unfold under Barbieri's careful control, exploring the basic nature of sound and consciousness. These pieces are minimal in arrangement but maximal in presence asserting Barbieri as a unique voice in contemporary electronic music composition. Highly recommended to fans of Alessandro Cortini and Eleh.
2018 repress. 120 copies on orange vinyl for Imprec mailorder customers.
Barbieri's latest work Patterns of Consciousness consists of a series of compositions originated by ideally infinite permutation of patterns through a disciplined and exclusive use of machinery (an Indexed Quad Sequencer and an Harmonic Oscillator).
By means of subtraction, addition and jitter operations, Barbieri derives a myriad of interlocking patterns extracted from an original matrix of just few harmonic archetypes, gradually developing the potential of the reduced constellation of pitches and durations determined in advance.
Pushing the limits of her monophonic instrument, Barbieri seeks out counterpoint from a single oscillator by only using additive synthesis, fast progressions, extreme melodic jumps and intricate delay lines. Note against note, gate against gate, she develops an illusory counterpoint style influenced by her passion for baroque lute music, where fast arpeggios are employed to get effects of sustained chords and overcome the limits of fast decay timbres.
Every piece in POC is conceived as a generative entity, a dynamic and living being able to develop its own organic laws, whose inner potential of growth and change is embedded in the initial instructions of the sequencer. These instructions translate into slow yet persistent, relentless variations in pitch and velocity: sharp interval resizing, pristine melodic transpositions, severe shifts in the metric structure of pulses and stresses. At the core of this process is the massive use of the gate, one of the fundamental concepts of voltage-controlled synthesis, here employed as the main creative tool to compose in a subtractive way and develop a negative counterpoint style. In this perspective, composing becomes an act of tuning to an ongoing sound field and making it selective, a subtractive practice rather than a demiurgic act of creation from scratch. The ongoing sound field is the rich sound spectrum offered by the harmonic oscillator - a monolith decomposed into its partials, a complex signal made selective to derive melodic information, a continuous field of electricity "gated" and discretized in points of condensed abstraction and emotion.
Emerging machine intelligence, human desire of pattern detection and the understanding of music as a cognitive feedback between humans and technology are primary sources of inspiration for this work. All the compositions share a common fatalistic tension, an impossible running, a restless rush - somewhat nervous somewhat ecstatic - to grasp a meaning out of fragments: in a present of spinning scenarios and volatile qualities where the decoding of complex and chaotic surfaces becomes harder and harder, human desire of pattern detection and recognition is what is left. But the highly formulaic and germinative style of the pieces is also influenced by Indian classical music's vision of sound as an agent of change and recreation: sound causing processes rather than objects, verbs rather than nouns. Patterns are understood as the cells of an organism or the units of a language: a limited set of signs that can be recombined to always generate new possibilities. Thus, this recording is only one of the many possible incarnations of this re-combinatory practice. Can sound synthesize new patterns of consciousness?
In POC, repetition and permutation of patterns are explored as tools to reconfigure perceptions and bend emotions, approaching sound as a medium to develop and master our own perceptual art.
"A pattern creates a certain state of consciousness. Once it is created, the pattern stands as an object exactly like the sound waves which generate it. We are at the same time inside and outside of the object. While being it, we observe it. Over time we become familiar with the inner structure of the pattern. We decode its gravitational centers, where our psycho-motor attention is attracted, where everything seems to be drawn. When a change in the pattern occurs it causes a perturbation of the previously established field of forces. This causes consciousness to fracture, potentially unfolding layers of perceptions we weren't aware of or simply suggesting that we access only a fraction of our psychic potential. The layered nature of consciousness and the relativity of perception are some of the biggest secrets we can experience through sound." ~ Caterina Barbieri
This Causes Consciousness To Fracture 14:40
Information Needed To Create An Entire Body 6:32
Scratches On the Readable Surface 5:51
Gravity That Binds 15:47
"Patterns of Consciousness finds Caterina Barbieri at her best, elegantly moving between melodically pleasant yet twisted sequences and comforting, reassuring sonic spaces. Every piece, while given a singular identity, is part of the bigger picture: a work of art that will push you, pull you, and then eventually leave you with your back against the wall once you get to the last track. " Alessandro Cortini (Nine Inch Nails)
"Shows off her knack for compositional contortion, bending fibrous synth lines around one another in mammoth, labyrinthine braids, which breathe and collapse in swimming fractal-like arrangements." ~ Thump
"An imperial, exacting beauty." ~ Wire