With this post I check out the first anniversary compilation from the Italian Lady Blunt label entitled “Meditteraneo” which was released on March the 3rd.
“Lady Blunt is celebrating its first year of life by announcing a very special release dedicated to the Mediterranean Sea. The Italian label has commissioned 15 artists with the intention of giving life to a choral work capable of launching a message of unity, inspired by and dedicated to the sea, using music as a means of connection, an instrument of cultural emancipation capable of transforming and improving ourselves. The musicians have composed pieces that are rich in emotional depth, with evocative, melancholy tones, sometimes dramatic, sometimes positively heartening. It is a genuine auditory immersion in the depths of contemporary instrumental music.
The collection offers a message of hope, expressed in the universal language of music, that reveals human sensitivity and empathy, the – sometimes dormant – need to be moved, to get closer. The sea itself is a metaphor for this, the middle-earth sea that is a catalyst of culture and diversity, that can unite rather than divide, nourishing the richness of that which is different or distant. With music, Lady Blunt wants to crown the beauty of the sea felt as a means of approaching and recognising each other: Mediterraneo is a tribute to a sea that suffers, that is now the scene of profound human and ecological drama.”
This compilation both celebrates the label’s one year of existence while also a tribute or concept album of sorts. The album features the artists that have previously been on the label such as Lorenzo Masotto, Laura Masotto, Eleuteria and their newest artist Cabecki amongst an international roster including Jim Perkins (Bigo and Twigetti Records), Anna Yarbrough (Rhodium Publishing), Ceeys, Snowdrops, Luca Longobardi and others. The compilation is also a charity album with proceeds being split between two Italian NGOs involved in the Mediterranean Sea, both on the environmental side (MareVivo Onlus) and the humanitarian side (Mediterranea, Saving Humans). In an Interview published on the Rhodium Publishing site the labels states that “We have selected artists who we deeply admire and of who we are fans of. Not only do we appreciate their music, but also their approach to music.” and “We also wanted to have a broad range of instruments, and this worked as the Collection encompasses a broad spectrum of neo-classical music: from piano to strings, electronics, ondes martenot, kalimba, and experimental guitar.”
The opener from Virginian based multi – instrumentalist Phillip G Anderson & Laura Masotto alerts you straight away to the high quality music that will be on offer. Anderson has released on labels such as 1631 Recordings, Sonder House and Memoir Music to name a few. His background is in television, documentary film and games scores and his collaboration on this track with Laura Masotto gels nicely resulting in a moody ambience meets orchestral feel which highlights an isolationist style. There is a mixture of grandeur, coldness and intrigue within the piece, almost as if sound tracking the possible life threatening aspects of the sea. This piece sets up the compilation nicely.
Christine Ott is a French pianist and ondist (a specialist in the Ondes Martenot) who also is part of Snowdrops which we shall hear from soon. She was part of Yann Tiersen’s band as well as collaborating with the likes of Tindersticks and Oiseaux-Tempete. Her piece “Herons” is a solo piano piece which has an individual feel and when coupled with the title you can feel it being used in a score to images of birds flying above and circling the sea. Ott mixes up quieter, gentle passages with more insistent which could be used with different imagery of the sea and the bird itself.
Jim Perkins, the Bigo and Twigetti label boss offers a piece that nicely melds electronics, piano and field recordings with his piece “Tribute”. The electronics inspired by electronica used within a modern classical framework is one that add to the pieces, but sometimes it can feel like it doesn’t really belong. I am not sure when it first entered the piano based soundscape, but when it is done well it adds extra qualities to the music. In the case of tribute this is very much the case with Perkins’ brief tease of a track which makes you yearn for so much more. There are all these little subtleties to the piece that cascade, while also adding different colours as well as light and shade to the piece making it quite irresistible.
Fiona Brice is a UK composer, arranger and violinist who has a pedigree in working with more pop orientated works from the likes of Placebo, Boy George, Kanye West to name a few, while also having released music herself on the Bella Union label. Her piece “To A Place Of Safety” pairs her violin with an unlisted pianist which results in the fusion of minimalist piano notes and soaring strings. The layering aspect of the strings help evoke emotional responses without the music being overwrought. There is a tenderness that shines through which is couple with a slight fragility.
Ceeys are the brotherly duo of Daniel and Sebastian Selke on Piano and Cello respectively. Over the years they have been carving out their own part of the modern classical scene with releases on the 1631 Recordings, Oscarson and Neue Meister labels as well as curating the Q3 Ambient Festival. Their piece “Plans” has a rather raw, almost folky sound with the cello contributing to this feel with it’s earthy, scratchy, droney sound, while the piano feels somewhat wrapped in cotton wool. It is quite the contrast of sounds between raw and protected. The piece has an open feel, like it doesn’t necessary lead you in a particular direction or vein, instead it opens up possibilities of interpretations.
Snowdrops is the duo (and sometimes more) of Christine Ott and Mathieu Gabry and they released the soundtrack to the film “Manta Ray” on Gizeh Records in 2019. Their piece “Lost Island” mixes ambience with electronics and kalimba to create a piece that is rather enigmatic in nature. The piece is a gentle and open one which could be inspired the movement of waves and a general calmness.
Laura Masotto’s “Mirage” sees one of the label’s three founders make another appearance in the catalogue. The piece has a similar sound and feel to her last release on the label “Our House Is On Fire” with it’s experimental and drone flourishes and at times furious playing. Whether the clashing styles and differing angles of the playing indicate things like the torturous and dangerous nature of the sea, I am not sure. What does appear is that Masotto rather than totally play the instrument conventionally, is interested in experimenting with what she can achieve with the violin in regards to texture and tone.
Lorenzo Masotto’s “Rebirth” from the outset is a fast rhythm solo piano piece which like his previous release “Home” sees him steering away from the electronic influence that was on “White Materials”. On this particular piece Masotto is in full flight for two thirds of the piece which is a majestic thing. Just when you think he is about to return to the beginning and double down with the intensity he changes tack to reveal a more contemplative side to himself.
Daniela Savoldi is an Italian – Brazilian cellist who has worked for a variety of different groups and artists including Muse. Her piece “Vite di Traverso” which translated to “Sideways Lifes or Lifes on a side” is a piece that has a free flowing and cascading feel. Savoldi twists and turns the shapes created by her cello and mixes up the darker, bassier moments with those that soar, hang and and almost cry. There is a strong feeling of an open structure to the piece that is as much about the sound as it is the mood.
Anna Yarbrough is a New York (via Sydney and Belfast) based Pianist and composer, who is part of Rhodium Publishing and has been on a handful of Sonder House releases as well as her solo debut from 2018 “Divided”. Her contribution is “Murmur” which at only two minutes in length is too brief that you are left wanting more. She has a background in providing music for television shows, so she knows how to create engaing pieces and possibly this is why the length of the piece is so brief. Not that it is lacking. Yarbrough manages to put many movements within the piece with a real organic feeling to it’s recording and it gives you the impression of a very comfortable artist sitting behind her instrument. If only there was more.
Previously seen in these pages with “In My Chest”, Eleuteria’s contribution “In My Boat” stands out because of the vocals and her choice of instrumentation – cello and what sounds like accordion. This piece comes across as the most avant-garde of all on the album with only the low notes of the cello making me think of t”he rising and falling of waves in the sea. Similarly in the way she used her voice as an instrument on her previous release, this piece takes flight when her voice becomes the central focus. Unfortunately unlike her previous EP I am not to sure about the musical component of this one, but I still look forward to checking out her next release(s).
Cabeki is the latest signing to the label with his “Da qui i grattacieli erano meravigliosi (From here the skyscrapers looked wonderful)” album due out on April 15. Largely based around guitar Andrea Faccioli aka Cabeki on “Hunt Sic Leones” explores a folk meets psych meets electronic feel with a strong “string” feel that makes the sounds feel like there are rippling across. You can imagine him sitting down with guitar in hand and array of pedals and tech at his feet as plays and warps the sound in real time. Because of the instrumentation and a more electronic approach, this track stands out for its spectral like feel. If you are a fan of music that appears on the Lost Tribe Sound label this piece will appeal to you.
Glowworm is a band led by multi-instrumentalist Kevin Scott Davis, who like many others, has found himself in the score world with compositions being featured on “Californication” and “This American Life” as well as some thirty million plus streams on Spotify. There is an obvious reason for this as the music created on this piece “Coastlands Hope” is breathtakingly beautiful and encompasses all that is good in the modern classical and post rock sphere. Subtly atmospheric Davis has a real knack of sucking the audience in with music that is epic without screaming it from the roof top.It is the type of piece that is constructed by many different parts which are all on the same level as each other, with none particularly over shadowing each other.
Luca Longobardi is an Italian pianist and composer who has released on the Paralleli label. He nicely brings this collection to a close with a very electronic / synth based track with a relaxed feel about it in “The Lighthouse”. Warped washes of synth give you a vibe of waves crashing against the rocks and a pulsing sound evoke the light spinning around. This feels like the most contemporary of pieces on the album and sees Longobardi behind is instruments warping ever so nicely the sounds and mixing in an ambient heart in the core of the piece. It’s the type of piece that suits the last spot on an album as instead of feeling like it’s a conclusion, it rather inspires you for round two. The fact that it sounds different to the other pieces both highlights the track as well as the diversity of the compilation.
Compilations with themes are open to interpretation from different listeners. “Mediterraneo” is no exception. Some of the pieces you can draw a through line from the music to the theme, while others the inspiration may be a bit more obscure. What you will get over the fourteen tracks / artists and fifty plus minutes is an enjoyable listen which has put some new artists on my radar to check out in the future. “Mediterraneo” is available digitally and is recommended.