Zone Démersale – Motore Primoa EP (Boring Machines, 2014)


Boring Machines indeed, for Michele Ferretti and Pietro Riparbelli’s newest creation under their Zone Démersale alias we’re treated with what is seemingly nothing more than the vestigial experimentation that was occurring in Ambient Techno from the late 90s/early 00s just with slightly improved production values. Techno and myself have something of a patterned and inconsistent history it must be said, and often I do find myself underwhelmed at the repetitive and mindless constructions so frequently presented and I’m sort of sad to say that Motore Primoa is another record added to the list of vaguely unimpressive and emotionless Techno records that try so very hard to be something they are not.

Opening piece “Politica Fondale” or “Political Backdrop” could have come out of more or less any Ambient Techno from 1998, its distantly tolling bells slowly easing themselves into the mix to become the mainstay of the foreground across its entire duration, accompanied by a few light synth pads and a scuffed record player ambient crackle just to add the finishing touches to the already firmly ensconced cliché. It actually sounds incredibly familiar and I’m slightly sceptical of its originality; something about it just rings a lot of bells (no pun intended) when I listen to its brooding, repetitive sequences that I just can’t shake, but I’ve not been able to place it thus far. It’s a fairly clinical introduction and followup “Navigazione Sommersa” (Submerged Navigation) is a little better in that regard, clinging closely to the tracks of its predecessor but replacing the rhythmic propulsion of the previous bells with the electronic pinging of an imagined SONAR probing the waters ahead, its slow and echoic pulses supplemented by somewhat more chaotic and energised yet wholly predictable and unwavering synth bleepings as our display lights up in the same fashion every time. It’s just so…mindlessly repetitive and without variation where there is so much potential for change, it’s frustrating.

The second half of the album is a little more ethereal and diffuse than the first two pieces but their impact is also questionable; “Notte dell’Uomo” or “Night Man” (I think) is decent enough, abandoning much of the obviously obnoxious electronica of the others and becoming a little darker and more elusive in its construction, which is refreshing, spinning lighter and more distal synth loops within a terse but light lo-fi fuzz. But again it exists in a frustrating pseudo-state, never quite coming to the fore and throwing out its inhibitions or breaking the mold, leaving us with a potent sense of failed expectations and slowly growing disappointment in its unrecoverable mysteries. That being said it’s probably the best track of the album, since closer “Il Fuori” or “The Outside” reverts back to some of its original Techno leanings and does nothing other than spin unambitious, echoic drum machine lines coupled with dry hi-hats and rolling, looping synth arpeggios before coming to an abrupt and predictably bland end in a muffled, scratchy silence.

At the risk of sounding ignorant I simply do not see the appeal, much less the theme of the album, of which the press release is little help:

” Its end is to describe a particular type of experience that can be defined as mystical-explorative, where the subject, following an initial introjection of the cosmos in its wholeness, reaches a contemplation of the logical order of “the external”, until it frees itself into the particular experience of the opening of the world.”

I always find the notion of exploration within Techno music something of an entertaining thought, since many productions are scarcely evolving affairs with minimal external influence, barely changing from end to end with little sense of objective realisation in between, of which I feel this EP is no exception. That may be a little harsh but this feels like nothing more than a pointless regurgitation and emulation of far better artists doing the same kind of exploration over a decade ago and I don’t think this is noteworthy in the slightest. Cold, repetitive and ultimately pointless listening.