SaffronKeira is the experimental project of Eugenio Caria, and although a new life is always a blessing and a cause for wild celebration, Caria’s music resembles the chilling threat of an unborn’s eerily vicious kick in the womb. Dispirited, dark beats brood over a plethora of pitch-black imaginings and spawn into a crawling existence. A New Life brings into the world his debut release, a double dawning making itself heard in the womb of the equally innovative Denovali, making for a perfect platform to give the music a birth it so craves. As SaffronKeira, Caria’s music could easily fall into the realms of experimental electronica and dark ambient, frequencies of electronic IDM and minimalistic beats that edge close to techno, but it goes much deeper, and darker, than that.
The blackest of night surrounds the embryo of a life silently waiting to be lived. The emptiness encircling the embryo (or, as we view it on the side of the living, a seemingly empty void that could resemble the other side as we imagine it to be) could be the unthinkable darkness which awaits us all at the end of the line, one always hanging blackly in the shadows, waiting to finally snare us at any time it so chooses. A New Life is an invitation into an unsuppressed, twisted trek, revolving around a birth-to-death concept and tracing a nightmarish lifeline from the cradle to the grave.
A heartbeat of a rhythm beats faint embryotic pulses into the air, like cushioned pumps heard in a mother’s womb during the final months of gestation. Darkly red is the continuous circulation, delivering beats as bodily blood to fuel the unborn’s growth amid a murmuring, treble-high heartbeat. Caria describes himself as a ‘researcher’, and his laboratory on the island of Sardinia, Italy, is a beautifully deranged test facility where he can slowly, and deliberately, curate his fascinating experiments. A recurrence of ghostly beats are splayed out over the record, ensuring that the listener should expect the unexpected.
Static permeates New Life. The newborn’s slightly warped melodies are given a complete freedom to develop, and as such the double album is quite a trek, but it’s one that fits in with a representation of the longevity of life. Broken and tinkling piano melodies ring out like a nightmarish nursery rhyme low on battery life, rocking beside stuttering, minimal beats. The electronic beats detour around a high level dosage of experimentalism and sticks close to its nucleus, and the hypnosis that possesses the rhythms results in quite an eerie experience. Also in the mix are vapours that once were ambient tracks, faded and twisted inside out in repeating piano lines. Occasionally, a melody creeps inside and displaces the atmospheric uncertainty, shaking it up and disbanding a dark, as seen in “First Denti”. Dancing drunkenly alongside intricate, rhythmically heavy beats, the piano masks thunderous, unnerving frequencies and hushed whispers. Elsewhere, the laughter of a child, so often raising a smile like a contagion, is warped beyond all sanity, shrouded in paranormal activity. ‘Acceptance of Mental Disorder’, with its ghostly female vocal, raises a harmony that previously was entombed.
Haunted melodies surround SaffronKeira’s music; through the music, they are truly given a new life. After all, it is a creation out of nothing, blank sheet music now surgically cutting calligraphic lines flowing on the touch of a pen. With each track nearing, and sometimes stretching over the ten-minute mark, there is no shortage of atmospheric development. A limitless voyage into the depths. A New Life takes on a life of its own, alive to its surroundings and beating with a darkly lit heart.
New life crosses over into the stream of an old life, and the old life is a phantom in the new; a reincarnation of an endless cycle. An innocence of youth has vanished, as A New Life avoids toying with major melodies and playful sounds. The textures come close to the borderlands of dark ambient territory at times, existing on a dark edge of sanity and delusion. It’s like a disturbed child out of a horror film who is finally tired of the slightly unsettling wind-up toys and ghoulish clowns, and instead longs for a new funhouse to stalk. In this aspect, the beats are fresh, cut and clean like a teenager tinged with trouble and anxiety over their appearance. The muffled ambience increases as tiny hands thump against the speakers, urgently crying to be let out and set free. Refreshing is a word that comes around pretty often, but in this case A New Life is exactly that.
A life’s end is seen through the track titles ‘Psychologically Destroying’, with the shattered radio communication of an imbalanced, decaying mind, and ‘Endless Agony of Being Sick’, mirroring a life in its final moments. The static and experimental effects could be remnants of a past life that has echoed through to the newborn infant, now awake to the world.
A static soundtrack that was New Life has faded away as we reach Old Life, and the ambience has become as vacant as the very last, frail days. In this way, Old Life can be uncompromising, yet this is the way of the world, and it gifts the music a hard shell of reality. The new life of the first side has now matured into a fully functioning lifeform. Old Life is perhaps more beat-oriented, energetic yet still dark, set against flat-lining synths and electronics which spiral into a question of which came first in the birth-to-death concept. What did we know of before we were alive? Were we merely the unborn, or did we prematurely exist before the conception? And A New Life also asks the listener if it really matters, as we must return to the fate our pre-existence imposed.
‘Pregnancy’ and ‘Last Days’ contradict one another in name, hinting at an overlap between the two divides. SaffronKeira’s music is the flashlight searching the night, where only one, circular beam can light upon any one surface at a time, the black remaining completely cloaked and hiding any sighting that may be present within the black. Surrounding it, an intense paranoia and a shaking terror are born. It is when faced directly with ‘Pregnancy’ do things turn slightly macabre; a gaseous gasping emanates cool breaths immediately in our vicinity, as if from a mutated evil awaiting a birth in a subterranean chamber. Breathing can be a sure relaxant, but this breath is alien to our ears, masked with ill-health and oxygen starved. It’s also very compelling, similar to casting our eyes back to a place we shouldn’t look for a desired second glance. Beats trip up and stumble as what one finds in the hidden corners of the underground is not one that should be known. Racing away from the breaths which follow becomes a necessity, feeling icy cold down the back of one’s neck. It’s a reminder that curiosity kills. The synths weave amongst the rhythms, like elderly thoughts haphazardly crossing over into different areas and then finally losing the thin thread of thought. SaffronKeira creates these descending nightmares within his rhythms and experiments, and this exists throughout A New Life. Would we want it to be any other way?
As the hour of midnight approaches, listening to A New Life past the hour and into the pitch-black of the early morning, without any comforting presence available, is a beautifully unsound mistake to make. (James Catchpole)