Luciano Cilio

Dell’Universo Assente (1977, reissued by Die Schachtel in 2004)

Much thanks to Jim O’ Rourke and the Die Schachtel label for helping to reissue this Italian composer’s work so that new ears can appreciate its delicacy and beauty. Picture a lusher and more linear take on Morton Feldman abstract washes of sound. Now, I love me some Morton Feldman, but Dell’Universo Assente bests his high points by far. Some of it even reminds me of Roedelius’ hertbreaking piano work on Lustwandel minus the Vangelis sweep and majesty. It is not all shimmer and sparkle becaue Cilio’s compositions have plenty of rough edges and discordant moments that transcends a moody confection.

Dell’Universo Assente was his 1977 debut and this is made all the more tragic due to the fact that he took his own life in 1983. Maybe it is because I have been obsessed with Charles Ives, Feldman, Giacinto Scelsi and Steve Reich lately, but Cilio’s debut really speaks to me lately. I’ve been kind of down and out and its slow-motion dissonance coupled with stately melody just really sums up my mood these days. It’s kind of a bummer for a classical album and I feel like I am staring from the bottom of a well as I listen to it. There is something hopelessly gorgeous about it. It is the sound of giving up and reconciling yourself to your fate.  At the same time, there is something uplifting about it due to how it taps into the sublime and makes you believe that a classical/drone/etc. album can really change your whole day at the sound of the first note.