Amirtha Kidambi & Matteo Liberatore – Neutral Love

9.8.21 by McPherson

I love Astral Editions, this has been established on the Tabs Out blog page before. Nate Cross has etched down a vision that I find quite endearing, and the 2021 Astral Editions catalog is curating its own specific niche around Astral Spirits’ ever omnibus universe. Hauntology? Covered at the door. Space Jazz? Sure.  Netherlands post-rock post-jazz? Of course. Vocal rumblings and droning guitar tumblings? Well, Neu — oh hold on the captain has something to say.

“We’ve actually got to perform some emergency maintenance; we’re gonna be heading back to the gate”

Okay I’ll level with you: It’s 6AM on a red eye out of chicago. I love morning travel. I expect a clean, concise flight, but we’ve just been punk’d. Today might be pushing my patience though, as I really haven’t gotten the sleep I needed and the 100mg THC shot w/50mg of caffeine just made me feel real conspiratorial as I walked past the COVID [citations needed] sniffin’ dogs, as much as it made me wonder “Did southwest imagine that in fifty years it’d just own a bunch of computer kiosks? Christ, how depressing.”

Anyways, the whole team is there on this red eye: A 3 year old child asking her father “when will the flight take off?” every thirty seconds, a couple speaking 5 dBs too loudly behind me, sporadic updates that border on parody as people get pissy and talk back. Oh, yeah, and uh… That Amirtha Kidambi & Matteo Liberatore “Neutral Love” tape from Astral Editions. It’s not BENADRYL® or more weed, but it’s the best medication when I’m drifting towards a hypnagogic nap on my table tray; one of ancient pasts towards a mysterious future.

Kidambi and Liberatore’s soundscapes are of an artifact that evades easy carbon dating, creating an effect to travel inward rather than take in every meaningless detail in the cabin of a 737. For thirty minutes, I did so, traveling with the two down a cavernous body of water in a little canoe. Liberatore was sailing, but hadn’t brought a paddle; instead opting to let his guitar and its restrained timbres navigate. On “Bells”, every small note or slight droning stretches, providing just enough levity for the bell to expand out and structure the piece’s movement. Meanwhile, Kidambi guided us — without a candle, just her radiating voice. Like her counterpart, Kidambi is patient with her instrument. Where her vocal inflections may start by bordering on pagan ritual, they can slowly move towards the extremes and create entirely new inflections closer to a steam kettle (“Mancanza”) or death by a thousand cuts (“Submission”) that practically command attention front and center. When the two of them cast off each other, it’s an operatic effect.

Each of the tape’s four pieces feel boundless, ebbing and flowing. That’s to say that when you are traversing your subconscious, this tape feels illustrious; one excerpt moves to another without so much of a stopgap to indicate. As suggested above, there are moments of spectacular sleight and abundant siege that the tape imparts, but the silence and patience are all the more rewarding here. By the time of side B closer, “Repose,” the two of them had guided me towards a deep-seated cocoon state. I truly would have stayed with the lights off for another eternity, but alas the pilot just told me we’re to take off. 

First pressing of 200 cassettes on RED TINT shells available at the Astral Editions Bandcamp Page