Oak Editions’ second release of the month contains parallels to its first. Pietro Riparbelli’s album began with the sound of wood; Nicola Di Croce‘s begins with glass. Riparbelli’s special edition contains a sculpture, Di Croce’s a risograph. The former release recalls a march to the sea; the latter launches from the shore. Each album toys with the idea of boundaries. And yet the releases sound completely different. Riparbelli’s music is restrained, while Di Croce’s is exuberant; Riparbelli moves slowly, Di Croce swiftly.
Fieldnotes celebrates the idea of travel: new events, new experiences. The opening track “Palomar” specifically sounds like something one might blast from a car while beginning a journey. Energetic drumming recalls the rhythms of dubstep, while languid trumpet offers the timbres of jazz. “Palomar” is the night that never ends, the city that never sleeps, the light that never fades. With eight guest musicians, it’s clear that the album is going to be a party. But Di Croce is not content with a single sound. In real life, a journey is a multi-toned miasma. Di Croce reflects this variety through the colors and patterns of his physical and sonic art. “Patinati” highlights recordings of a music box and a child; “Inner Tales” contains whistling, lapping water and conversation. The combination of composition and improvisation, fixed and static, lends the album an air of freshness, like a first visit to a yearned-for destination. Each track presents different sounds: huffing, church bells, intonations of bass. We have not yet arrived; we are always arriving.
Walkingsoundtracks is a fitting name for Di Croce’s guise. While many artists claim to be making “soundtracks for the mind”, their music often lacks distinctive features. Such artists propose that the mind will react to the lack of ideas by creating its own. Di Croce understands that the opposite is true; the mind responds to inspiration with inspiration. The specificity of this album is its selling point. Nowhere else will we hear these harbors, these women, these bells. The modern era has brought a strange irony; in our attempt to make everywhere feel like home, we’ve homogenized the world. Fieldnotes reminds us that there are still places unlike any other, beckoning us to visit. There’s nothing wrong with traveling in one’s mind, but it’s better to get on the ship. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 21 March