Maurizio Bianchi and the DNA of industrial music


Release year: 2023
Label: Steinklang Industries

Italian Maurizio Bianchi is right there at the genesis of the industrial music scene. He released his first tapes already in the 70’s, had releases out on Come Org. and Sterile Records, and helped define the sound and aesthetics of the then-nascent genre.

Despite taking several breaks making music, including a lengthy one from the mid-80’s to the late 90’s, Bianchi has racked up a discography whose size surpasses the impressive and reaches the almost absurd. Discogs lists 299 released as either Maurizio Bianchi or M.B., and more than two dozen as Sacher-Pelz, Bianchi’s early moniker. So if you ever decide to start collecting Bianchi’s work, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

So, release number three-hundred-and-something. I suppose you can safely assert that it doesn’t really bring anything new to the Bianchi oeuvre as far as style goes. After all, after so many releases, how much more new ground can there be to cover, at least if not shifting to an entirely different genre?

And this isn’t his sensitive, acoustic record of folk ballads or anything of the kind. No, this is industrial music – period. Mainly focusing on slow, brooding, understated and minimalist anti-music compositions, a lot of the time Geni-Z comes across as a very ambient album, one which offers precious little for the listener to fix his attention upon. Instead, Geni-Z is an album of slowly evolving, mainly quite unabrasive layers of droning, humming and undulating sounds. From what they are sourced is largely irrelevant.

With most tracks being around 15 minutes in duration, the minimalism and understatedness of Geni-Z can really test one’s patience. There’s not very much going on here; not many significant changes in sound within a track, not much in terms of contrast or stylistic breaks. Instead, the tracks come and go, rise and retreat slowly, like some sonic tide with its ebbs and flows. Whatever change there is comes from slow, tempered modulations.

And yes, it truly does test the listener’s patience. Even at half length, compositions of such minimalism would risk feeling long, but after 15+ minutes of slow, minimalist modulations of layers of industrial drones, it takes some endurance.

And that’s my gripe with the album. Were the tracks considerably shorter, the minimalism and understatedness would constitute an album of intriguing industrial ambience. At these lengths, I find myself wishing it were over with. The tracks, to put it simply and bluntly, overstay their welcome. And to boot it all, the album is so darn quiet, you really have to crank up the volume.

And then comes along Zero, the final and by far shortest track on the album. A considerably louder track defined by eardrum shattering high frequencies – truly pain inducing, especially if you made the mistake of turning up the volume to hear the previous tracks better.

Despite the above criticism, Geni-Z sounds like an album made deliberately to sound like this. It’s not over-extended because of incompetence or dilettantism. But that doesn’t change that fact that it… just… drags… along. So darn much.

Maurizio Bianchi doesn’t appear to have an online presence.

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