Fallen is Italian artist Lorenzo Bracaloni whose last album “ást” was recently covered on these pages and whose next album “Tout est silencieux” is due out on Triple Moon Records in the next fortnight. This particular release comes on the ‘blink and you will miss it’ Cathedral Transmissions label, a label who are known for their quality releases in short numbers that sell out instantly, almost geared for re-selling on Discogs. Thankfully in a digital age we can still get to hear great music like this.
I have started to listen to releases in the blog queue almost in a random fashion via my ipod. Listening without taking time to notice what is playing on the screen, and just absorbing the sounds for what they are and not having a pre-conceived opinion based on what I know about the artist. This particular release played on after I was listening to the Ethan Gold one I reviewed recently and I just sat back and enjoyed the sounds before I inquired who was the artist. This album is a different sonic beast to “ást” which for an artist that is prolific as Bracaloni is, is a good quality to have.
As with “ást” there is a theme at hand. “I composed and recorded “glimpses” at night (for the most part) feeling really calm and serene whilst recording the pieces because of the absolute silence, because of the cold outside the windows, because of the rain outdoors. “glimpses” tries to explore human emotions and feelings, acting like a cold heartless person, or like an empathetic one, or feeling very angry or totally at peace with the rest of the world. “glimpses” is having coffee at night, “glimpses” is crying gently while thinking of a dear childhood memory, “glimpses” is listening to your loved one’s breath while sleeping in the bed near to you. All this happened while I was recording in silence, while my heart was quietly beating.“
“In Between Days” a drone that feels like its welcoming the day is joined by faint spectral like sounds before a moody piano section that has a loop attached to it that sounds almost like a bouncing ball coming to rest. Having nothing to do with The Cure song of the same title, Bracaloni goes cinematic with his vision and with a handful of elements creates a track that flows through ambient and modern classical genres without being wholly attached to either. The piano forms the counterpoint of the track and is fluid in its sounds and movements. Field recordings bathe the track, but don’t dominate and a buzzing, presumably a highly distorted guitar drone dominates the final part of the track, but its the piano and the consistent loops that are the core elements that succeed in focusing the piece.
“Glimpses” flickering glitchy field recordings with slight tiny pulsing sections lead through to a new sound with rippling synth drones and what sounds like a tightly wound string instrument. Minimal piano with a glassy feel mirrors the tightly wound sound and expands on it giving the music a fragile organic quality which is a counterpoint to the noisier elements of drones and glitchy field recordings. Ringing guitar that sounds like rimshot shoot across with an alt-country feel to it. If the theme of the album is one that surrounds a variety of human emotions, I am not sure were the title track resides, but as it has laid back sections such as the guitar and the piano as well as the more slightly chaoticness of the field recordings, it could reference inner calm surrounded by turmoil.
“Heart(less)” sounding like a cousin of the tracks contained on “ást” it has long drones that come in waves as well as looped field recordings of disjointed noises (like something rolling down an incline), however the way the drones are constructed are more cinematic and wide scale. If you are to take titles literally you would think one names such as this would be a dour affair, but it is not. Sure, the music is not bathed in light, but it’s not buried in darkness either. Synth changes the texture of the piece with a sense of slight optimism, but its the drones with their weighty string section feel that hold the attention. A harmonica like blast from time to time and a playful loop like section of what feels like toy piano, but probably is electric piano steers us closer to the light and brings the track to completion with one last blast to end it.
“3:05 AM” glitchy static and undulating waves of ambience seem to exist on separate planes both increasing in intensity as the track navigates from its beginnings. The drones are what Bracaloni excels at and the static somewhat, but not totally detracts from this. Further drones that ascend and minimalist piano stabs lead us to a section with either treated guitar or new age like Synths. The static has disappeared and the music has opened up with a variety of drone section that travel in different directions and feel exploratory. The music comes full circle and we are led back to the earlier static section briefly before returning to this truly cinematic sphere. Bracaloni works best when he goes for ‘the big picture’. By this I mean by expanding his music so that it widens and creates an overall soundscape that is large and multi layered. Personally the static I find can be distracting, but on this occasion he uses it like a bridge between sections.
“Night Reveries” is the shortest track on the album which is just shy of five minutes in length. For this piece synth drones are a central focus creating linear forms with melodic tones. An icy, rolling static sound which feels cold and harsh opposes these drones before a fast repetitive synth section of bouncing melodies fits right in the middle of these opposing sounds. Rich minimal piano brings a humanist element into the track and in a way, gives of a late piano lounge feel which might be where the night is heading after the long hours of the day (possibly symbolized by the drones) and late night aftermath (symbolized by the static).
“Shape(less)” after a period of near silence a flowing drone and intermittent cascading sound consistently increase in volume and texture of sound. Glitchy random snatches of flickering sounds and a long random weaving drone snakes its way around with a proggy feel to it. Distorted synth comes in like a constantly passing sound, before glassy piano and metallic almost acoustic guitar join in. There is an additional piano section which has a jazzy feel to it, but it is used sparingly as the track is mainly a set of repeating sections or motifs, that if perceived through the lens of human emotions or feelings could be an introspective or depressive one where things keeps swirling within a persons thoughts and consciousness. Only Bracaloni can tell us for sure.
“Empathetic” a track that begins of with a section of layered pulsing drones that on the scale of melodic to dark drones are more in the darker part of the equation. There is just the slightest hint of ominousness to them, before a plinki plonki like ukuele sound, proggy synth, harmonica like sound and a collection of reverberating field recordings change the dynamics slightly. Harsher drones and improv like piano lead through into a section where distant guitar rings out, before we come back to the drones and piano. For a track title such as “Empathetic” the music doesn’t come across as obviously empathetic. The actual mood contained in the track is hard to get a handle on due to the difference in the sounds. The structure is similar in that to conventional music with the repeating sections coming through with slight variations and something that ties them together – almost like verse-chorus-bridge etc… This helps bind the tracks together and if in his case, work in creating the theme.
“An Overview” ends the album with this epic nine minute plus track. Starting off with slow aerial flowing drones which are given time and space to unfurl and exhibiting a light airy feeling, they are joined by crystalline piano and searching drones that feel like vertical sounds as opposed to the more linear horizontal ones of the beginning. A collection of distorted static soaked noises and field recordings enter the left hand side before piano enters the right. The static dissipates and the piano forms a nice collaboration with the layering drones that is reflective, introspective, calming and meditative. This particular section highlights Bracaloni at his best. The static returns once more and in the sphere of “The Overview” of human emotions is essential as it symbolizes those times were things aren’t smooth and happy, when things are jarring, slightly unpleasant, but also a necessary component of the human existence. A fitting way to end the album on a high.
Bracaloni is adept with creating music that is thematic. It’s not just a case of creating sounds. There is a theme, a feeling and a narrative to his work that he intends to convey through his music. He is particularly good with drones and on this album, piano. Without trying to influence him in his creative endeavors, focusing on these elements with less emphasis on the glitchy static sounds, would in my opinion, resulting in a rich vein of work. This is best exhibited by “The Overview” which highlights these strengths in a singular epic piece. It will be interesting to see the next direction Bracaloni takes with each of his following releases.