To promote Scacco Matto, his first album for Warp Records, Lorenzo Senni challenged his fans to a virtual game of chess. With a penchant for deconstruction and a back catalog defined by monochrome palettes of icy sawtooth waves, the Italian electronic musician does seem like the kind of guy who’d be handy at the game. The rules are fixed but the outcome is unpredictable; within extremely narrow parameters, players can display flair, cunning, and subterfuge.
Scacco Matto, which is Italian for checkmate, is the product of self-imposed limits and rules. The writing process was a back-and-forth volley, according to Senni, with every action followed by a reaction, as he deliberately countered his own moves in a knotty one-player game. The basic material remains familiar—gated synth tones arranged in taut melodies and spindly arpeggios—but Senni has found a new flamboyance in these astoundingly ornate, often song-like pieces.
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