Night School / UK / 2019
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 little 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.