All Above


On her third album, Berlin-based Dutch-Italian composer and sound designer Aimée Portioli, aka Grand River, asks what guiding forces might be driving, enticing, and affecting us. All Above is rooted in her deeply personal philosophy as an artist, blurring the boundaries between electronic music and acoustic music and sculpting familiar ambient forms into personal themes painted with rich emotional colors. Written painstakingly over the last two years, the album is the most ambitious and divergent set of music Portioli has assembled so far, with a wide variety of instrumentation (including voices, strings, organs, guitars, and synthesizers) focused around the piano. When the music blooms into abstraction and processed electronics, it's almost imperceptible: reverb mutates into ghostly vapor trails, and distortion forms the keys into another instrument entirely. All Above follows 2020's acclaimed Blink A Few Times To Clear Your Eyes (EMEGO 290LP) and 2018's Pineapple released on Donato Dozzy and Neel's Spazio Disponibile imprint. Portioli operates in a unique space within the electronic music scene, straddling the art world and the wider electronic music scene. In addition to providing A/V accompaniment, Marco Ciceri also maintains the visual identity of Portioli's label One Instrument, a concept imprint that asks artists to create music only using a single device. All this experience is poured into All Above, a richly visual album that's far more than just an imaginary film score. While on "Human", her piano punctuates a rhythmic synthesized bassline and smudged choirs that can't help but trace out the silver screen. The composer is keen to clarify that she doesn't think of her music (or sound in general) in visual terms. Portioli studied as a linguist and used her art to develop an emotional language that's not bound by expected cultural constraints. When she adds a different instrument or process, it's not to reference a visual cue but to mark a journey through different states of being. The tracks are like meditative poems rather than cinematic vignettes: "The World At Number XX" is seemingly centered around a chugging synthesized arpeggio, but the cosmic, Klaus Schulze-esque pads, strangled guitar and evocative organ tones hint at the open-hearted, literate psychedelia of the 1970s; "In The Present As The Future" meanwhile is breathy and windswept, juxtaposing urgent rhythmic phrases with light, flute-like gusts of harmony. Dedicated to Editions Mego founder Peter Rehberg, who died suddenly in 2021, All Above demands engagement and refuses to evaporate into the background. The album asks listeners not just to absorb the album as a whole but notice the cracks in the structure and discern the tension they cause. Edition of 500; includes download code.