REVIEW Toto Chiavetta ‘Underground Mental Resurrection’ [Innervisions]

Less than a year after the release of his EP Silence Has Come, Catania-based DJ and producer Toto Chiavetta, delivers yet another musical anthology on Innervisions. The label known for its meticulous proclivity has only released 74 catalogue numbers since its inception in 2005, and Chiavetta has not only joined the ranks once but twice within one year, siring two of the 74, not including a rare remix spot in the label’s cooperation with Counter Records for Howling’s latest single ‘Phases II’.

Chiavetta, less conspicuous to the party scene than his contemporaries, leans on the far-left side of the producer DJ ratio. His presence on dancefloors, however subtle, is loud. Innervisions head honcho Dixon, prominent for his business mindset and more publicly, his DJ skills, recognizes and disseminates Chiavetta’s artistry. Analog Suite and Nothing Really Matters have landed two comfortable spots in the DJ’s highly-acclaimed sets since early this year. Not until recently have the tracks been confirmed as Chiavetta’s, even later, their names ID-ed. However speculations lingered, and eventually forums mumbled impatient cries for a reveal and of course, a release. This prolonged anticipation is natural of Innervisions, but what most did not expect, was that Chiavetta had eight tracks, simmering in the backburner, amassing texture, procuring depth, perfecting its umami as it matures into the artfully curated Underground Mental Resurrection.

Underground Mental Resurrection is an ambitious endeavor, comprised of eight tracks, all over six minutes and two just a smidge under eight minutes, a rather wide range of note keys executed against a narrow BPM ambit. The latter is both a safe and bold move for Chiavetta, it limits the tempo variation, less room for error; but on the other hand, also induces redundancy which in music, requires effective disuptions to maintain engagement. The album title, intelligent, deep, visceral, is also a challenge in itself – one can’t name an album with a weighty title if it has no substance. Definitions might speak to this. Underground. Mental. Resurrection. All heavy words that require depth, complexity/chaos and revival. Respectively, analogous to depth, complexity/chaos and revival.

Dissecting and distinguishing the techniques and mechanics Chiavetta employs in this album is a feat for the average listener, and even for less seasoned artists. Each track is so intricately woven, with new sounds and sound integrations so creatively enginered and delivered they transcend the dimensions of a typical electronic composition. In Underground Mental Resurrection, sounds begin to speak, they illustrate.

Embarking into Underground Mental Resurrection with the track, Hand Made – a slow build up of pulsating beats gaining traction with an ascending infusion of electronic sounds, some mechanical whispers and inorganic whistles. Half way through, the track climaxes in a loud siren and surrenders to a faster beat, higher pitch; previous sounds are reintroduced and together they oscillate and congregate in harmonious motion. The melody weakens and gives way to bass, the track grows heavier, and is pulled closer, groundward.

A whiff of earth and ground in the onset of Nothing Really Mattersis smelt, a crowd favorite frequently played by Innervisions DJs. Earthy drum beats, lively percussion, carnivorous howls mingle and slowly disappear into electronic jangle. But when it gets too foreign, almost frightening, and the echoing cries come way too close, Chiavetta reverts to the mundane, and incorporates a more modern form of verve. The howls are reintroduced, now complemented by operatic melodies, steady bass, organa, percussion, much more tangible and closer to ground-level.

Survival packs a punch with a relatively stronger bass introduction, veering towards techno. The track begins with a deep pulse; then heats up upon the clashing of varying sounds against a backrop reminiscent of darkness falling. A howl, breaths, gnarls and accelerated heartbeat: commotion are heard, felt in the most intense way.

Definitions is propelled by a patient and more deliberate build-up. It rolls and collects substance with each stroke. Chiavetta exponentially grows the track’s substance with lyrics from what sounds like a lesser-known speech by British scholar, Alan Watts, known for his expertise in Eastern philosophy and proficiency in higher consciousness and psychotropics. The speech reflects the maturation of the track’s sound; by discussing how outside energies such as psychedics enrich or alter the subject. In Definitions, Chiavetta, succeeds in altering the state of the track by infusing variants to the bassline. He then strips the track nearly bare, to mere drum beats which eventually deescalate into silence.

Analog Suite, popularized by Dixon, starts of with a greater level of complexity, a steady build up with nearly equal percussion and subtle bass. As Chiavetta reduces each element, replenoishes with a new grating sound, which will eventually command the track to finish. The underlying bass and percussion see-saw but remain constant, and as more nuance sounds ebb and flow spontaneuosly, the sounds together, become hypnotic.

The title track Underground Mental Resurrection starts off the G major/123 bpm triplets. The first-born starts off with a steady bass line and a rhythmic procession of claps. But after a strident shrill a little over a minute into the track, Chiavetta injects layers upon layers of electronic modulation, from various directions; from below, above, either sides, we are enveloped. Chiavetta slowly omits all auxiliary sounds until the track is down to bare drum beats.

Chiavetta’s track Darkness Into Light‘ starts with a mild melodic trance, disrupted by dings and howls, and later a faint solitary voice echoes. Ater a minute passed, an overbearing collision of sounds pave way to the decline of dark sounds. The track ascends in tempo; in pitch, and as the distant sounds begin to sound closer; the solitary voice ceases to chant alone.

Amuchina Bar is a circus of emotions and sensations that linger within the upper rim of the ear. Contained and restrained, it draws energy from within and hyperactivates from compression. Anxiety-inducing; it shrieks, pumps, stomps and clamors, and terminates itself in an abrupt dismissal.

First listen to the full eight-track set was enjoyable, and enticing. Second listen, it was complex, layered and intriguing. On the third, recognition of and possible frustration with our disconnect from Chiavetta and the intangible. However, after a few more Chiavetta convinces the listener to dive into the dimension he has created, for lack of a better analogy, this subterraneal labyrinth which requires a series of both audial and mental discombobulations and repairs. Chiavetta equips us with melodic jolts, pitchy jounces and abrupt pings that colllectively allude to a way out. He concludes the saga with Darkness Into Light; a song of ascend and possible gateway to resurrection.

‘Underground Mental Resurrection’ – ‘There is not much more to say than this is one of the best records we ever put out. The future of House music comes with an unique sound.’ – Kristian from Ame.

Toto Chiavetta’s ‘Underground Mental Resurrection‘ was released September 1st, 2017 on Innervisions. (Marie J Flores)

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