Cause and Effect is an expansive record whose soundscapes reach to the abstract to cavort with a concept that can stray equally far from our comprehension. With his third full-length, electronic sound composer, Eugenio Caria, under the name SaffronKeira, ruminates on the idea that before the Big Bang, there was in fact no ‘before’, and no concept of cause and effect. The album also presents another event of significance: the inclusion of Mario Massa, a mesmerising trumpet player.
Massa is said to have always dreamt of collaboration such as this, and indeed Cause and Effect seems to have captured both musicians’ dreams and projected them to the stars. In doing so, it induces a feeling of almost astral projection in the listener – the dichotomy between a mind transported into space by beautiful, celestial sound while the body remains far behind, inert.
In contrast, the musicians exemplify an immediate and lasting symbiosis; the trumpet’s covert entrance renders it almost indistinguishable from the synth swells, blips and airy noises that open the record in “Pity”, and such alchemy between the contrasting instruments occurs throughout. Strong solo lines also appear, demanding a space all of their own, yet the trumpet is never in danger of feeling repetitive thanks to its diverse application, from dreamy, reverb-laden melodies through to staccato, almost percussive attacks, with effective use of mutes and harmonic overdubs in between. The trumpet offers constant immediacy and tangible feeling to Caria’s morphing and remote soundscapes.
Cause and Effect is not a record of dramatic dynamics, but one in perpetual yet languid drift between different moods. It delves into darker territory towards its middle, reaching a nadir in the comparatively short “Altered State”. Commencing with buzzing and rumbling sounds faint yet rhythmic, an ominous synth growl grows and engulfs – straight out of the book of Angelo Badalamenti (of David Lynch fame). It recedes but remains beneath sounds that become increasingly frenetic, as though a black hole sucking all matter towards it. We reach the album’s zenith with the titular “Cause and Effect”, which introduces what sounds like a marimba – its wooden timbre a surprising but entirely welcome addition over halfway through the record. The descending ostinato it plays is soon joined by a choir, one of two mesmeric vocal additions across the album. The effect is a hymnal homage to an event as regular yet spectacular as a sun rise.
Despite its universal theme and supernal sounds, there are also moments when the listener is eased back into more familiar, terrestrial territory. The soporific sound of lapping waves introduces “The Sacrifice”, while faint murmurings of sounds enter that could be human-made. The album’s deep concept encourages a certain pensiveness of mind, cogitating the nature or function of things suggested by such moments: the swell of oceans, the provenance of wind, the rising of the sun. At 10 tracks, very few of which undercut five minutes, Cause and Effect both encourages and offers ample time for the listener to dwell on things often taken for granted. (Chris Redfearn)