I listen to “Zoom” and find myself thinking this is the voice of a saint resounding in a temple. Yet it is most enchanting in its interplay with silence, the physical potential of the human body, and the intriguing inventiveness in arranging improvisation into song-like structures.
Favorite track: ZOOM0005.
Zoom is a verité collection of situational recordings made by Cucina Povera - aka Finnish-born, Glasgow-based sound artist
Maria Rossi - in intimate spaces full of acoustic or ideological intrigue, primarily using a capella voice. It is a document of
different locations and moods that interested the recorder, a postcard look into the stream-of-consciousness processes of
an artist developing her own language. Using little else other than a Tascam Zoom recorder and loop pedal these are highly
personal recordings originally intended as notes for future compositions that ended up becoming the purest rendition of
this first phase of Cucina Povera's music to date.
Originally presented as WAV files named simply ZOOM---, these on-the-fly compositions are a perfect distillation of Rossi's
practice. With no augmentation, not even a song-title, these bare, beautiful tracks become a materialist document of the
wonder of the every-day. While Rossi's previous album, Hilja, was a sculpted whole that at times used post-production
techniques and electronic instruments, Zoom presents acoustic sound as a source of joy and discovery largely without
artifice. Rossi's voice is used a searchlight, shining into the crevices of a room's dark corners, or as on ZOOM0005,
projected into a Coke bottle aperature, for an almost Shakuhachi texture. Voice dissapates into texture, with rhythms
created by simple hissing sounds and the interweaving of loops. ZOOM0001 interlocks 4 different a capella melodies to
create a chorus, an improvised solo hymn that seems to rise and rise. ZOOM0010 uses staccato vocal bursts, like Meridith
Monk huffing out Steve Reich rhythms, while the soloing Rossi expertly ducks in and out of the frame. Like the most
celestial moments of her debut Hilja it is a religious experience but rendered more powerful in its naked, secular form.
Indeed, there are shades of Hilja in the sounds, with some strains resurfacing from that album, insinuating that Rossi's
practise is a continuing form, a series of sentences in the artists' personal language that mutate over time, bending into
new shapes. On Zoom, Rossi’s minimalism is fully stark, a process fully transparent and all the more celestially powerful
because of it.