Open To The Sea’s aptly titled Another Year Is Over, Let’s Wait For Springtime eases listeners in with a creamy, multi-layered Lau Nau vocal atop drones and other delicate electronics. The Finnish singer wrote her own lyrics for the piece. They will be unintelligible to many ears (including mine), but no matter. “Heavying Like a Falling Leaf” is all relatable emotion. It is the kind of first impression that great records are made of.
This is a second collaboration between Italians Enrico Coniglio and Matteo Uggeri. Coniglio, from Venice, is a guitarist and sound artist. Uggeri calls Milan home. He’s an electronic music producer who spent his formative years taking in the early industrial music scene of the 1970s.
Their latest features contributions by the aforementioned Nau, vocalists Dominic Appleton, John Guilor, Yan Jun, Animor (a.k.a. Romina Kalsi) and Gaia Marquitti, bassist Alberto Carozzi, Alessandro Sesana on trumpet, drummer Simone Riva and cellist Andrea Serrapiglio. They’re spread out across the album; most appear on just one or two pieces.
This long list of contributors makes for a wide-ranging end result. The opening track is followed by a gorgeous soul-influenced vocal by Animor, paired with Coniglio’s acoustic guitar.
As the album progresses, we’re delivered spoken word performances (some of them in an ASMR style), jazz and new classical music references, field recordings and electronics “to create a sound cosmos full of tiny melodies and themes” according to the notes. These various elements aren’t presented so much in juxtaposition to one another as they are combined with an experimenter’s ear for what might work.
They pull it off, in part as a result of the spaciousness built into each piece. Nothing feels crowded, even when multiple, dissimilar sounds are combined.
The album’s penultimate track is one of its most striking and conventional. This Mortal Coil and Breathless fans will recognize Dominic Appleton on “Facing the Waves.” His gently acerbic singing voice is backed by piano, guitar, drums and electronics. “Time now, to start again” is the lyric repeated as the song draws to a close. It is a pitch-perfect message for the beginning of a new decade.
Could all of this category busting signal a less siloed approach to contemporary music ahead? We could do worse.