Joe Renzetti - "Discovery"
By Marcus Pan
Discovery is Joe's third album and
the first Joe recorded in his home studio built around a Macintosh system. His
first break from the synth-pop style he recorded previously, Discovery
contains his first trek in the more electronic-ambient style of musical
soundscapes. Following this his highly-acclaimed Talking To The Dead
lead him further into this realm to create breathtaking music that can instill
moods and feelings in the listener - or heighten those already there.
Discovery has been dubbed by Mr. Renzetti as "a sonic
journey to the heart of inner space." Whether the name chosen for this release
is based upon the discovery of this space by the listener, or instead based on
Joe's first initial movement into ethereal electronic music, is unknown - but I
have a feeling that both could apply here. Discovery is an MP3.com
D.A.M. (Digital Automatic Music) CD. It includes a rather short and uneventful
data track upon which you can read a bit about Joe, but otherwise provides
nothing in the way of usefulness. MP3.com needs to get their act together - I
love data tracks on audio CDs as much as the next geek, but if there's nothing
worth writing then don't bother. Contact information for the artist is plenty -
the information MP3.com did have here was nothing more than a reprint of The
Astral Plane, Joe's website, anyway.
Joe's a master at capturing moods. In both his available
ambient works, he shows a unique capability to be true to the mood and
environment he's trying to convey. In Discovery it's an outer/inner
space he's trying to surround you with, and all the sound structures, layers
and aural imagery he provides on this 12 track disc remains true to this scene.
He's definitely a master of moods and his concept albums stay on track and in
the realm he means them to go.
Joe starts off the album with a muted countdown and
full-blast take-off at the outset of Night Voyage. This is one of the
few times you get jolted throughout the sounds he weaves on Discovery,
presumably to strike your mind clear. It's a good start - probably a bit
cliché - but it works here on Discovery because it clears your head
enough to take in the ambience to follow. The second track, Nebula
Waltz, is a pretty piece of toy pianos, slow rhythms and warbled strings.
The song is one of my favorites here - as it moves along you'll notice how the
notes and melodies become further warped, almost clashing, just a little at a
time until at the end of the track it's almost disturbing in its tone and
melody - a lightwave bending around the gravity of your mind.
The next highlight track is the fourth, Rain Of
Colors. This is a windy and complicated ensemble with common chords woven
together into a busy tapestry. The track name is wonderfully accurate, the
windy background providing a falling sensation as the synthetic melodies hold
you and keep you from striking the bottom of whatever abyss Joe's created so
that he can throw you into it. Most of the other tracks on Discovery are
layered and lush, like a shag carpet of sound. Nothing here (other than the
outset of Night Voyage) will strike you or beat into you - it's all
music done to an ethereal muse. Some of the songs, like Monoliths which
closes your voyage, has an ominous feel to it, but for the most part it is
Discovery is Joe Renzetti's first attempt at ambient
electronics and is quite successful. For anyone who has looked up into the sky
and wondered at the billions of stars peeking down at them; for anyone who has
watched a shuttle take-off and wondered what it was like to be in it when it
did; and for anyone who reviews Hubble images for fun and learning -
Discovery is a disk that will help take you to all these places on the
fringe of time and space.
Post: Joe Renzetti,
14 Moss St., San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 861-4345