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(53:42, K-Scope / Snapper Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. About Butterflies & Children 3:02 2. Places Remained 4:29 3. The Misplay 4:32 4. From Silence to Noise 15:29 5. Someone Starts to Fade Away 8:55 6. Kites 8:30 7. Lightdark 8:45 LINEUP: Giancarlo Erra – vocals; guitars; keyboards Paolo Martellacci – keyboards; vocals Gigi Zito – drums; vocals Gabriele Savini – ac. guitar Alessandro Luci – bass With: Marianne de Chastelaine – cello (3, 5, 7) Tim Bowness – vocals (5)
Prolusion. Italian band NOSOUND first started out as a one-man studio project late in 2002, and has since then become a 5-piece band and released two albums prior to their 2008 release "Lightdark". Their claimed influences are various post rock bands, ambient music and Pink Floyd.
Analysis. What is offered on this release is a strange kind of hybrid music, ranging from ambient and new age-y slow compositions to pieces that wouldn't have sounded highly out of place on a Pink Floyd release. Synths and keyboards dominate from start to finish, more often than not with multiple layers. Generally there will be one layer with a mostly monotone sound as the foundation, with several additional layers providing a more varied mix to the compositions the in form of melodies or fluctuating, wave-like sonic patterns. The moods created can be majestic and epic verging on the bombastic, while other segments can be lush, mellow and highly new-age-y. We're also treated to some examples of soloing, although of the atmospheric kind rather than the virtuosic. The piano is present in most tunes and segments too, adding more nuanced textures to the songs as well as providing rhythmic sounds to the compositions where percussion and drums aren't present. All types of keyboards used on this album share one common trait: they all are played and mixed in a manner that produces a cold and somewhat distant sounding atmosphere, at times producing a slightly alien mood. The vocals contrast with these moods nicely, a slightly raspy, emotional delivery that gives the songs a much needed warmth in the soundscape, as well as providing some tension in these slow-moving compositions. When used, the drums, other percussion and bass guitar provide a rhythmic and musical foundation, with the percussion given a more dominant role in the compositions than the drums and bass. In fact, the percussion work is skillfully incorporated to add some drive into these songs, and it also adds some subtle details to the soundscape that makes the songs more intriguing to listen to. The guitar is used a bit more than the instruments in the rhythm section, serving melodic licks in acoustic mood and generally adding a certain Pink Floyd tinge to some tunes, when mixed in with the other instruments described. The Pink Floyd related tinge to some compositions here is further enhanced by the electric guitar adding some nice psychedelically atmospheric soloing at times. One characteristic all these compositions have in common, apart from being slowly paced, is the minimalist approach to them. There aren't any explorations here into exciting new musical development, no pushing at boundaries to expand them. On the three tracks where they are used, keyboards, bass, guitar and cello most of the time explore a distinct minimalist theme. The end result here is an album with strong influences from ambient music as well as Pink Floyd, and it is a mix that by some has been compared to Porcupine Tree. The music isn't complex or even adventurous; instead, there's an almost total focus on conveying moods and atmospheres. This is mostly well done, although a few songs don't really manage to captivate the ear.
Conclusion. "Lightdark" is a release that I suspect will appeal to a lot of fans of space rock, as the slightly minimalist, synth-dominated sound with spacey textures should please many followers of that genre. Slow-paced atmospheric compositions might also appeal to followers of more new age-oriented music, and comparisons to acts like Porcupine Tree may indicate that this release may be well received by some people from that crowd too. Fans of adventurous and complex music should approach this one with a bit of caution.
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