Like a cellophane-wrapped square of mixed breakfast cereals, Alberto Boccardi‘s debut is a variety pack of enticements: straightforward and experimental, vocal and instrumental, song and drone. This diversity of styles is reminiscent of This Mortal Coil, especially the sweet dulcet female vocals on “Desolate Red Fingers” and “You Told Me That You Were Lying” (which oddly contains the title of the following track, “Clocking the Time”). But so is the element of surprise.
Opening track “Laying On Before” is all crunch and distortion, beat and march, backed by a low bass rumble, until the morass crumbles into quietude and a vibrating synth line leads the way out of the dark. The artist grabs the listener’s attention with sensation, follows it with thought, then blends the two together: body and mind, heart and soul. Although the second track – the first with vocals – lasts only two minutes, it casts a compelling spell. Anything is possible on this sonic playground.
As Boccari slips back into the sea of electronics like a deep sea diver searching for pearls, he passes bursts of bioluminescence: whips and whorls of percussion dart from speaker to speaker, daring him to fire his spear gun. These sounds seem more present than those of the guitar, beckoning from the surface, or the bass, sounding a siren’s cry from below. “Unexpected Places, We Saw” is a perfect name for this nine-minute cut, as it continues to expand on the idea of exploration. Like the opening cut, it crashes in the middle, giving way to brine pops and a guitar line that works like a rope.
The largest shock is reserved for the end. After showing admirable restraint over the course of four cuts, Boccardi sends every element of his recording into a screaming whirlpool of distortion, a white noise counterpart to the combined light spectrum. This seems to be his way of saying that everything is valuable and disposable all at once: the hallmark of experimentalism, reached in his first outing. If he’s got anything left, we’re eager for more, although what follows may be an entirely different fish. (Richard Allen)