The Wormhole presents…

 

 

WHO#17 – Laura Agnusdei – Laurisilva

Vinyl LP (edition of 300) / DL
Buy on Bandcamp

Composed, performed, recorded and mixed by Laura Agnusdei during 2018 at the Institute of Sonology, Den Haag, Netherlands and in her bedroom, Bologna, Italy. Mastered at Bunkr Studio 36061 by Daniele Fabris. Cut by Jason Goz at Transition Mastering Studios, London, July 2019.

A1: Epiphyte Blues
A2: Lungs Dance
A3: Shaky Situation
B1: Laurisilva
B2: Jungle Shuffle
B3: Golden Kites

‘Lungs Dance’ is now available to stream or download from the usual suspects


“Laurisilva” is the scientific name for a kind of subtropical forest, charactarised by the presence of laurophyll, broadleaf tree species and high humidity. Laura Agnusdei borrowed this scientific term, which contains also the same Latin roots of her first name, to describe the personal musical ecosystem of her debut album. Its six tracks invite the listener to explore an imaginary landscape made from sounds growing and layering like biological organisms within a forest.

“Laurisilva” is a hybrid habitat, where the acoustic dimension of wind instruments – explored both in their melodic and timbral possibilities – meshes with polymorphic electronic sounds. The high biodiversity of the record takes inspirations from Jon Hassell, Charles Mingus, Björk and Terry Riley as well as the “Fifth World Music” of Italian label Artetetra. It also reflects Laura’s eclectic experience as a saxophone player and composer, ranging from psych rock to marching bands, from acousmatic composition to free improvisation.

While her saxophone is often the leading voice of the work, it occasionally shares the stage with the trumpet of contemporary music player Elisabeth Lusche, the swinging reeds of Italian jazz musician Giacomo Bertocchi and the ancient flutes of early music expert Thomas Reyna.

The cover of the album features an illustration by Agnusdei herself, taken from her ongoing series of drawings “Organic Life Patterns”.


Biography

Laura Agnusdei is an electroacoustic composer and saxophone player from Bologna. Classically trained, she also holds a Master in electronic music composition by The Institute of Sonology of The Hague. She is also the saxophonist of Italian cult psych-rock band Julie's Haircut. Since 2016 she has been performed in many venues and festivals such as Rewire, EYE Filmmuseum, Reform Act, Macao and Ipercorpo and played as opening act for artists such Colin Stetson and Jenny Hval. Her compositions feature the saxophone as the main voice within sonic landscapes that shift between melodies and textures, song form and improvisation, fusing acoustic, digital and analogue sound sources to create emotional states that change from track to track. ‘Night/Lights’, an EP composed of four pieces of soulful electroacoustic music, was her solo debut cassette released in September 2017 on The Tapeworm.

lauragnusdei.com


Reviews

The Wire (UK):

Laura Agnusdei’s reinforcement of the mushrooming cross-disciplinary Tapeworm/Wormhole catalogue is reflected more in her choice of theme rather than her practice as an electroacoustic composer and saxophonist. “Epiphyte Blues”, “Lungs Dance” and “Jungle Shuffle” rattle through bubbling synths and field recordings that reverberate with what the artist describes as her own “personal musical ecosystem”. Inhabited by the resonant accents of Agnusdei’s saxophone, along with additional wind instruments from Elisabeth Lusche, Giacomo Bertocchi and Thomas Reyna, the record bristles with the visceral, percussive energy of a space in constant motion in keeping with The Tapeworm’s own broadly encompassing creative universe.


The Quietus (UK):

I once drove through the 200 million year old Laurisilva forest on the island of Madeira. It was there before the island was inhabited, lots of it has never been felled, so some of the trees are thought to be over 800 years old. This is a place with history on a scale inconceivable to humans. In it I felt observed, and moved slowly, as the mist hung like heavy drapery between the silvery trunks, and the car engine disturbed the deep time of the green and dripping foliage.

This is an album inspired by those forests, by saxophonist and composer Laura Agnusdei, on The Tapeworm. Her sax playing is airy and supple, and rolls like the fog between the trees. The electronic sounds and bubbling samples sound like a Jana Winderen recording of the biological transmissions from beneath the forest floor.


Chain D.L.K. (US):

The debut album from saxophonist and electroacoustic composer Laura Agnusdei is a fascinating hybrid beast. With saxophone sitting frequently at the core, accompanied by a small ensemble of the artist’s colleagues who contribute trumpet, reeds and ancient flute sounds, at its heart this is light, almost traditional small ensemble jazz music- sometimes reminiscent of soundtracks to old black and white cartoons. But it’s presented in an experimental frame, with organic bubbling, atmospherics, synthesized sound and post-production work ever present throughout. It’s as though a small, fairly contented jazz ensemble have been plonked onto an alien planet, but have decided to carry on performing regardless.

It’s exemplified by the title track, which sums it up quite well, right down to the odd seagulls, gloopy fluid sounds and sorrowful sax. The production work often brings an extra level of uniqueness to the groove level of the pieces, such as on the dubby, reverb-laden walking patterns of “Jungle Shuffle”.

“Shaky Situation” stands out thanks to its life-affirming spoken word samples talking about how life should be fun, blended with a far more playful series of melodies that bounce around between popcorn synth, flutes and wantonly cheesy stabs. It’s almost pop music, reminiscent of the Art Of Noise in some ways, and though it doesn’t represent the whole album, hopefully it has the capacity to cross over onto some broader Spotify playlists and garner some attention.

In pieces like “Golden Kites” or the decidedly more abstract “Lungs Dance”, it shows off a more relaxed, mature and confident side.

I’m a big fan of this release, thanks to its bold character. It feels like it offers up a fresh recipe with known ingredients. It’s accomplished, sometimes virtuoso, but it absolutely doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s also fairly concise, at only 30 minutes, and certainly leaves you wanting to hit ‘play’ on it again.


Further. (UK):

[…] Recorded in The Hague where she completed her Masters in electronic music and her Bologna bedroom, Laurisilva is an absorbing suite of six pieces that seek to evoke the natural environments of the forests that inspired its creation. Here, on tracks like the mesmerising title track or ‘Epiphyte Blues’, you find Agnusdei’s sax playing providing effortlessly evocative motifs, augmented by gurgling analogue electronics, intricate sound design flourishes and delicate processing, occasionally seeing a range of collaborators dropping in jazzy reeds, flutes and trumpet. The result is a sort of wonky electroacoustic big band music somewhere on the continuum between jazz, exotica, Warp electronica and modern classical (whatever that is).

The departure from woodland concerns arrives in the form of ‘Shaky Situation’, a skittish, randomised composition that finds Agnusdei layering in insistent spoken word instructions from what sounds like a particularly curmudgeonly jazz band leader about the need to practice playing daily. Here the sound palette moves from hooky electronic passages that nod to both Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works and Terry Riley’s In C, blurry sax lines and dissonant clashes of instrumentation, the result being something unpredictable, intentionally messy and gleefully disjointed.

The standout moment ‘Jungle Shuffle’ is the closest Agnusdei gets to a form of traditional jazz, her playing running the gamut from early 1920s swing to wild free jazz, underpinned by a fractured rhythm belonging on a long out-of-print Disney album of Polynesian sounds subjected to a precision-sharp digital scalpel. By the track’s conclusion, all traces of reverential jazz reference points have become buried, mere distant aural memories beneath a forest floor carpeted with broken beats and splintered percussion. [Read the full review by clicking here.]


Toneshift:

From Julie’s Haircut saxophonist Laura Agnusdei comes Laurisilva – a pun-ish title for a floral bouquet of windy avant acoustic-electronic jazz. Presented with cover art from her drawings series entitled, ‘Organic Life Patterns,’ the album was recorded in both Den Haag, Netherlands and her Bologna bedroom. With collective assistance from numerous contributors, the holistic theme forms around the scientific nature of laurophyll, a broadleaf species of tree which inhabits the high-humidity Laurisilva forest.

Each of the six aptly titled expressions conducts visceral biological celebration. For one, breath itself (Lungs Dance) and that breath unto the forest at large (Laurisilva and Jungle Shuffle). The personal sense of blues stylized in the epiphyte manner of the first track culminates transformed with an extension of the beyond in the final track Golden Kites. While there is the overt presence of winded orchestration, the electronic components are handled with elegant organic textures. Rhythmic fragments lace the wealdish arrangements. There are these grooves where the cathartic movement is contagious – danceable. Overall though, a mystic wonderment of respite amidst flourishing plant-life permeates. Full of action, this sensory-laden boscage.

 

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