Italian duo How To Cure Our Soul present their fourth album “Mare” on the US label Sequel (home to Forest Management, Dominic Coppola, Celer) as a digital and CD release (apparently available soon) with a DVD-r version being self released. The Italian duo of Marco Marzuoli (who started the project as a solo vehicle) and Alessandro Sergente are both graduates of the Academy of Fine Arts and consider themselves as an audio/visual project. Their previous releases have appeared on labels such as Low Point (UK), Audiobulb (UK), Setola di Maiale (IT).
For this album they are joined by Rossano Polidoro (Triac, ex TU M’) while the album was recorded in Città Sant’Angelo during the summer of 2016.
The duo described it as “a composition for electric guitars, freeze pedals, field recordings and tapes. also collaborated to the realization of the album. Mare aims to be a minimalist immersion into an isolationist sea. All sounds and images of the sea have been recorded on the Adriatic Sea (Silvi Marina, Abruzzo, Italy; autumn 2015). Through a personal use of digital and analog instruments, How To Cure Our Soul reflects about philosophy, landscapes (natural and human) and communication, producing videos, music and photos, personal outcomes of the reality’s reinterpretation.
The album’s promo information (and indeed the text featured in the bandcamp release page) allude to the power of the sea in a quote from author Jules Verne. As mentioned above the feature of “Mare” are field recordings of water from the Adriatic Sea (which also is featured on the albums art). The swirling, choppy water is the centre to the piece with a constant flow, the occasional sound of someone walking or splashing in it. The track starts with an almost Richard Chartier like beginning of near silence with field recordings of the sea first being heard around the one and a half-minute mark. The sound appears to be layered or possibly recorded in a section where there is a lot of activity. Around the five-minute mark is where the drone elements come in. A long drawn out pulsing drone follow a straight line of sound around the water and bird sounds which are still dominating the soundscape.
Just before the nine minute mark a more intense looping and oscillating drone starts to dominate the sound sphere with high level arching under which the field recordings remain at the same volume and the original drone increases in intensity. The oscillating drone has a melodic component to it while still having a depth of volume as it threatens to take over the piece. Twelve minutes in sees an accompanying melodic section added which adds another layer with a glassy feel to it, like it’s a combination of Synth drones and the howl of wind, it is has that sort of quality.
Approaching the half way mark of the thirty-two and a half-minute piece the intensity of the drones increases to just being more intense than the field recordings. The drones work together not as intertwined, but rather as layers, each built on top of each other, but with the fluctuations of sound and changing intensity. While other structured drone pieces with field recordings can lean toward a dark ambient or pure ambient form, “Mare” straddles both with the intensity, but also the melody.
With the last eight or so minutes of the track remaining, the structure and sound of the drones changes to a lighter one and the intensity changes to become more reflective. Towards the end, like the beginning the long drawn out drone and field recordings remain till the last two minutes are purely water sounds.
Having a thirty-two and a half-minute single piece for an album can be challenging especially using a relatively small palate of sounds. That said How To Cure Our Soul manage to make it work with their drone construction. I would have like to have heard maybe more variation in the field recordings, but I understand the concept behind it in its importance to the track.