ELEM – ELEM EP
What if four expert artists, four composers, basically four musicians, join together in a collective in 2012 and start snapping with sounds, knobs, and synthesizers? It happens that ELEM comes to life in an explosion of electronic and avant-garde sounds. So their first EP is born. Here is how the band presents itself, whose members are quite popular in the Neapolitan and national underground scene: Marco Messina (99 Posse), Emanuele Errante, Fabrizio Elvetico and Loredana Antonelli. Standards are almost absent and there’s a specific wish to go beyond conventions. The first two tracks, “Different Masks” and “Sex Sharing” are full of dark and catapulting sounds in wierd meanders. It seems to proceeding in the same direction with “Notturno”, that opens with dub sounds, with a deep bass ride, and then with rhythms not quite “straight”, a little bit on the same path of Aphex Twin old school. Being an Ep, you get soon to the end, and maybe it’s really a pity. The tracks are actually four and in the last one you feel something different. “Naples, Western Gambia” is the 90’s of Marco Messina and the 99 Posse: kick beats in 4, monothemical guitar, drum’n bass, and the pleasant feeling of moving the body in time. A little work we hope will soon lead to an entire album, in spite of those who say that electronics in Naples, and in Italy, do not exist.
Dakota Suite and Emanuele Errante – The North Green Down
The North Green Down’ was conceived when Dakota Suite founder Chris Hooson was on a holiday with his soon-to-be departed sister-in-law. The realization that those were the final moments he could spend with her brought a flood of inspiration for songs, which eventually wound up as this epic tribute. Here Hooson is accompanied by regular Dakota Suite collaborator David Darling and Emanuele Errante, who appeared on Hooson’s radar after contributing to the Dakota Suite remix album last year. Errante takes the fragile songs and adds a light dusting of subtle electronic treatment. His signature is present but treated with the utmost care and attention to detail. I think with music this personal, and this poignant it’s hard for any collaborator to get the balance absolutely right, but somehow Errante’s restraint is his success here, and the result is impressive. It would be hard to describe an album such as this as ‘enjoyable’ in the classic sense, but its deep, involving and truly honest melancholy is totally enveloping. Hooson is steadfast in his emotion and resolve, and the album is one of the most defining statements I’ve heard from him to date. A difficult but rewarding experience, ‘The North Green Down’ is sure to appeal to followers of Goldmund, Max Richter and Johann Johannsson, but the added context of this album gives it a real poignancy. Recommended.
Herion – Out&About
What we have in Herion’s Out and About is a work that is ambient chamber music in every sense of the term: spatial, intimate, classically based. Strip away the subtle wash of electronics that Emanuele Errante and Enrico Coniglio whisper beneath piano from Elisa Marzorati and viola by Piergabriela Mancuso, and what’s left is a rich bed of beautiful compositions for traditional acoustic instruments. (Besides their laptop work, Errante and Coniglio also add strings, guitars and more.) One of the best compliments I can pay Herion is to say that I’d listen just to those elements, sans electronics, and still firmly enjoy the disc. With the opening track, “Oxg,” Herion establish their acoustic-drone base, the metallic rasp of the strings adding not just a texture to the sound, but an equal sense of emotional warmth and humanity. It’s part of the real beauty of Out and About — the way in which we’re intermittently reminded, as the disc goes along, that the sounds aren’t all circuit-born. It’s a good reminder, since it’s easy to lose sight of that as Herion quietly wrap you in smooth sound- ribbons. There’s a lot to like here, and much of begins with Marzaorati’s piano work. Her playing is sweet, graceful and impeccable, whether it’s thoughtfully wandering through Errante and Coniglio’s misty landscapes (“One Minute Before the Sunrise”), holding a polite dialogue with a sighing harmonica (“Cab”), dropping like forgotten tears (“Lindos”), or giving itself over to electronic treatment to capture a sound-image (“The Hanging Glacier”). The disc closes with her playing alone on the appropriately titled “Solo,” and it’s a standout moment on an excellent disc. And while her playing is central to Out and About, it’s the atmospheres that Errante and Coniglio craft around her and Mancuso that give the whole thing an amazing depth and a touch of the ethereal. The worlds are perfectly blended on the dramatic “Moske Orgulje,” with all elements adding their voices in balance. From start to finish, Out and About moves from moments of soulful serenity to breathtaking beauty. Its organic roots run deep to ground the listener in the moment and the experience.