There is a floorboard outside my daughter’s bedroom that creaks loudly when stepped on. We have woken her more than once, trying to navigate our way around that particular piece of hardwood. Such is life in a house built more than a hundred years ago.
Carlo Giustini’s new album La stanza di fronte (The Other Room) has a similar homemade quality.
He set up two microphones and Dictaphones in the corners of four rooms in a 50-year-old Italian home. Four rooms; four recordings. “[T]he tones and the harmonies are translations of the vibrations of the house itself, Carlo’s movements and the noise of moving objects,” according to the album’s notes.
These aren’t the white noise collages that description might lead you to believe. Without the benefit of any musical instruments, Giustini has transformed his recordings into grainy, ambient masterpieces.
Each piece reflects what he found in the four rooms. “L’ospite” (The Guest) includes humming white noise and “unexplained sounds and footsteps captured in one of the rooms while the house was empty and the mics were on.”
“La stanza di fronte” (The Front Room) is gently industrial. Water drips. Pieces of metal chime. “La cantina” (The Cellar) – the album’s longest piece at nearly 18 minutes – is just as unsettling as its title suggests.
Finally, “Villa letizia (oltre la mia finestra, l’ignoto)” (Beyond My Window, The Unknown) is a much-needed breath of fresh air. The album comes to an uplifting end.
The recordings are beautiful, but then Giustini is hardly the first artist to feed ambient noise through a sound processor. What sets La stanza di fronte apart from similarly themed projects is the musicality of what he’s produced. You won’t spend much of the album’s 45 minutes thinking about the sources of each sound. You’ll be too busy marveling at their combination.