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coverpic flag Italy - Full Moon 244 - 07/20/16

Harry Bertoia
Sonambient Complete Recordings
Important Records

Italian-born American artist Harry Bertoia (1915-1978) was a jeweller, printmaker, sculptor, and a modern furniture designer. At the age of 15 he landed in Detroit, seeking a better life and future in the USA. After art school Bertoia started with jewellery design and metal work, later to move on to furniture design (he's known for the famous Diamond chair, designed in 1952). In the late 1950s, Bertoia devoted himself to sculpture but in the 60s, he moved on to sound sculptures, creating sound art. Like he once said 'If you look at these chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture. Space passes right through them.' (Harry Bertoia).

The Sonambient box set recently released by Important Rec is a heavy load: 11 CDs with a 114-page book! According to the Harry Bertoia Foundation, it has been said that as a child, Bertoia 'wished there was a musical instrument that anyone could play instantly'. The adult Bertoia started experimenting with and playing his 'wire and rod' art, creating magic and mysterious sound out of them. He made his sculptures come alive with sound and re-sound, chimes and timbre. In an old barn, he collected numerous sounding 'pieces', including gongs and 'singing bars' and eventually started to record his 'music'. As a result, he recorded eleven works, albums in this Sonambient series called 'haunting, mysterious, and at times church-like reverberations' (HBF).

Bertoia's sound sculptures are for sure spellbinding, exciting and hypnotising stuff - but also utter and total relaxation. These are minimal-maximal compositions (or art) which rather should be checked out in spacious art galleries instead of listened to via CDs in your home setting. The luminous, slow floating soundscapes of Bertoia are works of grandeur, done with touches and hints of mystic to them as well as being compositions bearing some present and obvious earthly connections. Most of the time these sounds are pure Zen-like experiences, like some close encounters of the far-out/far-off kind. However, nobody can check out the content of these eleven CDs in a row. You'd better spread the works of Bertoia over a period of time. Step inside Bertoia's sound art gallery a couple of times a month and you will visit Bertoia's Sonambient world through half a year, and you'll find both inner peace and outer space peace. Spacious is the placious.

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