RELEASE: Chiaroscuro - Italogaze 2018
RELEASE DATE: 11th May 2018
RECORD COMPANY: vipchoyo-sound-factory / seashellrecords
In recent years Italy has been leading the European charge when it comes to the resurgence of the underground shoegaze sound. Italogaze, as it has been coined, has brought a fresh aspect to this much maligned sound with most of the bands within the scene embracing newer sounds and recording techniques such as modern psych rock, synthwave, vaporwave or even darkwave and deploying them alongside those traditional alternative sounds like postpunk, noise rock and shoegaze resulting in some fantastic pieces of music. In an attempt to highlight some of the immense music coming out of the underground Italian shoegaze scene right now, two Italian-based independent record labels - vipchoyo sound factory (Naples) & seashell records (Palermo) have jointly released a compendium of tracks by some of the most significant bands of the current scene. This new compilation entitled 'Chiaroscuro - Italogaze 2018' aims to be both a representative sample of the so-called Italogaze sound and a jump off point for new listeners. Released back on May 11th 2018 this thirteen track compilation is available to buy/download right now from both vipchoyo-sound-factory.bandcamp.com & seashellrecords.bandcamp.com respectively.
Chiaroscuro - Italogaze 2018 by Various Artists
Up first are Milan-based 'In Her Eye' with a track lifted from their forthcoming long player 'Change', penned in for full release on June 1st 2018. 'Closer To Me' is a woozy fuzzed out slice of melody strewn, alternative led shoegaze with catchy chorus changes and soaring lines of lead guitar. It has subtle nods here and there to the forbearers of the shoegaze sound but there's a modern edge mingling in amongst those solid song structures. Up next, Rome-based 'Weird.' unleash the sublime 'Forevermore', a shimmering cloud of sonic melancholy filled with hazy passages of dreamy instrumentation and floating vocalisations whilst up next and hailing from Milan, 'The Mystic Morning' unveil 'Follow The Sun', a brilliant alternative leaning jangle of intricate guitars and steady percussion swirling around duel vocalisations that lead the listener into that magnificently hazy chorus charge. Next, Cosenza-based new wave/synth-gaze trio 'Electric Floor' bring a sound that leans into the experimental side of post punk mixed with the darker side of new wave and underpinned by a distinctly modern electronic edge to the compilation with the shimmering 'I Made It Up' whilst Naples-based alt-gazers 'Marys Restless Dream' unleash the jangling 'Crazy', a blissed out sonic thrill ride filled with mesmerisingly catchy instrumental progressions that ride woozy layers of reverberation with relative ease.
'Lay' bound aimlessly into the sonic arena straddling a tumbling percussive assault buffered by screaming feedback and the constant hum of bass. leaning heavily into the fuzzier side of shoegaze this track is a definite highlight on the release whilst up next, the Milan-based 'Obree' are comprised of Sara Poma (Emily Plays) and Fabrizio De Felice (Bialogard/Huge Molasses Tank Explodes). Their collective sound echoes a modern edge with elements of synth wave and shoegaze all wrapped up in huge swathes of melancholy. 'Breath' is simply beautiful and a serious recommendation from us lot here at Primal Music. Neapolitan dream-gazers 'Stella Diana' are represented here by 'Iris', a track lifted off their forthcoming and highly anticipated new album '57', penned in for full release on the 25th May 2018. ‘Iris’ jangles into the ether on repetitive lines of melodic guitar as it’s twinkling swells of synth dance and ebb through sticky clouds of reverb. I can hear some early post-punk connotations of The Cure echoed within it’s intricate guitar lines, some new wave leanings reminiscent of Echo And The Bunnymen and even some subtle Sisters Of Mercy vibes going on here also. ‘Iris’ builds ever so slowly and it gently leads it’s listeners into a peaceful break before exploding into a multitude of colours as we tumble through clouds of raging instrumentation and on into it’s blissful finale. Up next, Pisa-based quartet 'Klam' play post punk with a shoegaze feel, blending there sound with influences from 80's and 90's punk and indie rock. 'Begging For Money On Fb Chat' rattles on a layer of sequenced percussion as subtle swells of synth and intricate guitars envelope that impressive vocal take.
Hailing from Milan, 'Novanta' aka Manfredi Lamartina has been wowing the underground Italogaze scene since his earliest inception back in 2011. Constructing well attuned soundscapes that soar through layers of synth-wave, shoegaze, electronic dream-pop and alternative sounds, 'Novanta' is represented here by the beautiful 'Lovers', a sequential, slow moving, synth led monolith whilst up next 'Yellow Traffic Light' hail from Turin and create some stunning passages of music. Their debut EP 'Dreamless' was one of my favourite releases of 2014 and I'm so happy to see them on this compilation today.'Fukuoka No(の)Future' is a driving slice of melodic repetitiveness that balances precariously on top of that steady bedrock of percussion. Hard hitting vocalisations swirl and ebb as spellbinding webs of golden hued guitars are spun capturing lengthy sonic refractions that echo through layers of simmering reverb with ease. It's a sublime track and quite possibly my favourite on this entire compilation. The albums penultimate piece comes from 'Bestrass', a postpunk project from Bologna formed back in 2013 by Leonardo Cannatella - vocals/guitar, Iacopo Palasciano - guitar & Lorenzo Brogi - drums. Their four track debut EP 'The Seasons' was released back in 2016 and they are represented here by 'Rain', a slow moving, atmospherically charged slice of postpunk steeped voraciously in wide scoped reverberations with subtle hints of soothing post-rock. The album closes out with an alternate take of 'Ripples' by Modena-based psychgazers 'Rev Rev Rev'. For those of you new to the sounds of 'Rev Rev Rev' they combine the well worn sonic structures of shoegaze with expansive modern psych sections that veer off very, very slowly to the edge of doom, and back again. Their sonic palette uses fuzz in all its colours, from bright trebles to muddy, abrasive darkness and this in turn allows them to paint relevant sounding sonic soundscapes that do not disappoint. Quite simply, 'Rev Rev Rev' are one of the most important bands to have ever come out of the modern day underground Italogaze scene and I'm so happy to see them represented here on this release.
We usually steer clear of various artist compilations here at Primal Music simply because more often than not they are full of self-serving cover versions, misrepresented music genres or are just monumentally dull in quality. But every now and again something sublime comes out of the ether that we simply have to comment on. 'Chiaroscuro - Italogaze 2018' is a captivating celebration of a vibrant underground music scene filled with far seeing musicians & personalities who together have created something altogether magical. In my opinion, this compilation is one of the most important Italogaze releases so far. It incapsulates a music scene on the rise and will surprise some of the older shoegaze fans whilst captivating all of the new ones.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last five years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream-pop, postpunk & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting genres of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
RELEASE: Hello We're Not Enemies
RELEASE DATE: 17th June 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Seashell Records
Hello We’re Not Enemies is an album by Milan-based electronica outfit Novanta. On this release, over seven tracks of varying lengths and degrees, Novanta carve and pump out a wide range of beautiful and elegant alternative genres that paint a shimmering picture of a band who are fully pledged to their art form. And that is one compliment that must be instantly handed to Novanta and this album; it is a reflection of a band with a plan who have laid out seven diverse but fantastic tracks, in a great track listing, giving each song enough space to bounce off the one before. It is hard to explain, but after listening to the album over and over, it is its structure that (besides the music) is one of its strongest points. This coupled with its echoed Synthwave production and mixing, make for a refreshing, interesting and great listen.
Hello We're Not Enemies by Novanta
The album opens with the atmospheric intro-instrumental track, ‘Sonder’. With its humming and heavy synths, it seeks out to paint a picture in the listeners mind, and does so successfully. What is this picture? It is of a dark, empty highway that runs through a metropolis like city, perhaps in the 3000’s; and the band take the listener on a journey down this very highway, equipped with bouncing drum machines and an elegant and neon-bright soundscape. It is a piece of darkwave genius that leads straight into the belly of the beast; or in this case, the heart of the city. ‘Goðafoss’ follows on from the synth of ‘Sonder’ but adds a whole other dynamic at around the fifty second mark with a flood of soaring synth, drums and a neat background guitar to create an emotive and sophisticated coldwave sound, descending into the depths of post-punk. This is one of the albums greatest tracks, perhaps partly based on the fact that although it is sung in a language other than English, I can still (without understanding the lyrics) feel the vocalist’s sensitive and magnificent performance and know it is of a whole other stature; that it is a brilliant track. As the song pumps on in a post-punk/electro tone, it flows out into a beautiful final piece of keyboard contemplation and ceases at around the three minute mark, even though I could have listened to double its running time and still be immersed in the sound and music. ‘Mike’ begins with a kick drum-heavy eighties inspired drum machine, and seeps into a serene bass and keyboard hum, with great Cure-esque vocals that build the song up to its dark and glistening chorus, where climbing synths pulsate the background. If ‘Sonder’ was the trip toward metropolis and ‘Goðafoss’ was a metaphorical wander of its dark streets, then ‘Mike’ is the contemplative subplot of a character lost within the city labyrinth, rising in elevators, staring out the window as it climbs a massive building. ‘Mike’ is visiting the cold, rolling shoreline and gazing out as the wind blows in from a land beyond; utterly enthralling.
‘Tell A Story’ holds up the middle of the album with dream pop sensibilities and composure, but Novanta attempts to stuff the track full of different genres; an act that does not propel ‘Tell A Story’ to the monumental heights of the previous tracks. Instead, the song seems drawn out and jumps from sound to sound, with a reverbed and low-mixed dreampop/shoegaze vocal track in the background, coupled with the slow tap of a drum machine for a full and heavier sound. ‘Blue Lagoon’ stands at over seven minutes and utilizes a similar sound to the opening three tracks, although this song becomes less engaging at the beginning and flourishes as an intelligent and full sound toward the tracks closing. I feel like there is more potential in this track, as the band have demonstrated before how talented they are at choosing their sounds wisely; as it is used only minimally on ‘Blue Lagoon’. However, the three minute mark shines brightly another intelligent piece of music making from Novanta; who enhance the track to a tribal, dream like stature. ‘Melted Eyes’ closes the album with an eerie, dream evoked sound with a touch of darkwave that connects fantastically with the other tracks on the album. If the listener has been wandering the proverbial dark metropolis landscape for the album, then ‘Melted Eyes’ serves as a clever conclusion and a meditative beginning. The piano that touches quietly over the rumbling synth shines light into the heart of the darkwave resonance, and the listener emerges quietly from the labyrinth of coldwave into a whole other world full of light. At the same time, the distant tone of the vocals evokes a sense of contemplation deep within, coupled with a reflective power that allows ‘Melted Eyes’ its own beautiful place on Hello We’re Not Enemies.
The opening three tracks are the absolute highlight of the entire album; they spin with darkwave perspicacity that sooth and offer the listener the opportunity to reflect on the deep and post-punk influenced sounds of the album. Although this is not necessarily a concept album, I felt as though the first half was a fantastic construction of the aforementioned picture of a metropolis like city. With this in mind, I felt the middle few tracks fell out of this concept; so I examined them as songs in their own right and felt only moderate interest toward them. Novanta pull themselves together, however, and finish quite strongly on the last few tracks. Overall the album is great; but it could have been even greater, with a more direct and fleshed out sound. The production is good, the mixing is strong and the performances should be praised on all the tracks. With Hello We’re Not Enemies, Novanta meld together post-punk, electro, shoegaze, darkwave and synth stylings to create a fusion album of spectacular depth, a reflection of their skill with the art of sound.
‘Hello We’re Not Enemies’ was released on the 17th June 2016 via the Palermo based independent record label Seashell Records: seashellrecords.bandcamp.com
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
by Primal Music
Record Company: Seashell Records
Release: Best Selling Dreams
Release Date: 27/10/14
Nu-Gaze is a term that scares the life out of me. I generally tend to stay well away from it for fear of lumping a band or an artist into a sub-genre of music that they neither belong to or indeed should be in at all. I personally believe, that wether you use synth's & drum machine's, guitars & effects or effected ethereal vocals to create wall’s of sound then by right's you should be classed as shoegaze, not tagged with the dreaded Nu-Gaze moniker, that seem's to be lumped onto band’s these day's just for trying out something new or for being different. We need to actively promote and support these band's for trying out something different in today's modern musical landscape, not labelling them outside of the shoegaze family for being different! After all, if we keep creating new terminologies for the different era's or newest wave of gaze, are we not eventually going to completely wipe away the original concept, which is shoegaze?
Italian based shoegaze has been on the rise, in my opinion, for a while now and I’ve touched on it before through mentioning other Italian gaze band's & reviewing Italian releases for this blog (case in point - Stella Diana), but one band in particular are bringing a new form of modern day shoegaze to a worldwide audience via another amazing independent record label who are not only cradling shoegaze on their roster but also Folk, Psychedelic Rock, Alt-Folk, Wave, Neo-Folk, Indie Pop, Folktronic & Ambient artists too. Seashell Records are based in Palermo, Italy & are in my opinion one of the foremost purveyors of Italian gaze today. One such act on their roster are 'Novanta' - they hail from Milan, Italy and are a shoegaze/post-rock/electronic project created by Manfredi Lamartina. They released a stunning album of 8 track's full of ambient, post-rock & shoegaze connotations back in September 2014 through the medium of Seashell Records called - 'Best Selling Dreams'.
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'Best Selling Dreams' opens up with 'Light Changes'. A drum sequence doesn't give anything away at all before this track opens up into a blistering dreampop infused soundscape with a modern twist. The use of synth's on this track are exquisite & the vocal effects/production are immense. Check it out.
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If anyone ever wanted to know about how good modern day Italian shoegaze really is then track two on this epic release will educate you on it's brilliance. As it's title suggest's 'Windows' will open your eye's & ear's to Italian shoegaze & take you on a journey of monumental proportion's from the off. This track explodes on the musical canvas with effected guitar's & and addictive vocal line's leading us into that immense chorus change. Sheer emotive & expressive shoegaze at it's very, very best.
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With a look back to the first wave, track three on 'Best Selling Dreams' is my personal favourite. 'Worthless Whirl's' is old school. This track alone has everything, from it's post-punk touches to it's dream-wave infused vocals all comfortably swirling around it's shoegaze leanings. 'Worthless Whirls' is immense! It build's & build's until the haunting vocal arrives on top of post-punk inspired bass line leading us to that brilliant 'My Bloody Valentine' like wall of effected guitar's. This is shoegaze! Check it out.
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You can listen to any track on this album & never fail to get completely inspired with what 'Novanta' & Manfredi Lamartina have achieved. From it's opening track 'Light Changes' on into 'Windows, Worthless Whirls, Novanta Song, A Fever, 2Young2Die, Reasons' & the album's epic closer 'La Maledizione Degli Affetti', 'Best Selling Dreams' should be celebrated for what it is - a brilliant shoegaze album infused with post-punk, dream-pop & ambient styling's, harking back, in parts, to the first wave of shoegaze! This is a truly wonderful album & one that I'll continue to reference as one of the best underground Italian shoegaze albums of 2014, going forward.
Del Chaney- The Primal Music Blog - February 2015 - Dublin, Ireland.
Check out other artists over at SeashellRecords.bandcamp.com
You can find out more about the brilliant 'Novanta' here:
Del Chaney has spent the last two years not only fronting popular Irish Electronic duo Analogue Wave, but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the Unsigned or Small Independent Label based Shoegaze, Dream Pop, Noise-Rock & Post-Rock genre’s of music from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. His other arm, The Primal Radio Show, has gained considerable respect from band’s and promoter’s alike since it’s conception in 2013 & has hepled him in actively promoting a genre of music that he's passionate about. He also currently write's for Canadian based online music webzine www.ReplicantEars.com. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.