Dreamy, top-of-the-range IDM-techno from Italy.
You may know Retina.it as purveyors of fathoms-deep techno in the mould of Donato Dozzy, but this wasn't always the case. In the early 2000s, Lino Monaco and Nicola Buono, who've worked together since 1994, began to develop a style of steady IDM that found a home on the Chicago label Hefty, which was releasing artists like Telefon Tel Aviv, T.Raumschmiere and Dabrye. The label and artists put out some singles and a couple of albums together, and a chunk of this work forms the basis of The Last Day Of Pompeii, along with four unreleased tracks and one that came out on the duo's Mousike Lab label. It was a time period filled with beauty, melancholy and contemplation for Retina.it, if this collection is anything to go by. The influence IDM heavyweights like Aphex Twin and Boards Of Canada may sometimes loom large, but you could argue that few operating under the IDM umbrella around this time wouldn't have been somehow touched by these acts.
Lord knows why Monaco and Buono didn't put out the four unreleased tracks until now. From the stately "P.ssage" to the more urgent electronics of "Fakaldo" and the post-Aphex "Fafreddo," there's some heat here. "DAT10 30OCT" is the pick of this bunch, though. The slow, thickset broken-beat—a continued presence in this collection—is overlaid with whirring machine parts and heavily atmospheric guitar. It's the kind of thing that could stop a lively living room afterparty dead in its tracks. That said, it has some competition for the most affecting cut on the compilation. "Zucchine Alla Scapece" is the stuff of Mediterranean sunsets. The melody and pads are in glorious harmony on "Apeiron." And "China@House" is as delicate as a house made from china. In all cases, Monaco and Buono sound bewitched by their machines, a kind of fresh naivete you find in so much classic electronic music a decade or more older than this collection.
Monaco and Buono have recently released on leading techno labels like Semantica and Nonplus, but they remain something of a low-key, headsy favourite, stepping out only occasionally to play live and do soundtrack work. This release won't change any of that, but those in the know should savour it.