The cover to Emanuele Errante’s latest project risks— yet subverts— a hamfisted explanation of the record’s symbolic contents. Bristling, bare tree branches stick out above four rigid, brutalist structures, as if to tell us point-blank that our world, this world, is not what it once was. Industry, technology, and capitalism have crushed our souls! The organic is unsettlingly decayed. Yet this stark, hollow reading begins to dissipate with every passing piano chord and every elegiac flourish of splashing water or crowd chatter. Errante creates not only a symbiotic relationship between the trees and the buildings, the earthly and the manmade, but also a nebulous combination of the two, like a chemical mixture turning deftly homogenous.
Over the past decade, the Italian sound artist has carved out a distinct region in the seemingly bottomless marsh of slow-burning, ethereal ambient music. Each release has further embellished his hyper-detailed compositions. These have arrived by way of acoustic guitar, string quartets, or piercing synthesizers, depending on the highly specialized mood at hand. The piano takes center on This World, where single drawn-out notes border luscious soundscapes that seem to grow and multiply as the record takes shape. There is a rather traditional “Ambient 1: Music For Airports” contemplativeness about the work; an association which only enhances Errante’s explanation for this being an examination of recent changes in the world. The old-fashioned homage to early ambient music helps situate the album as both conceptual and deeply serious.
While the individual tracks stitch together a fine, tightly-knit fabric, the record truly soars when more disparate sounds mesh into Errante’s sonic, societal conundrum. As its title might suggest, “Permanent Sunset” evokes some sort of flickering fluorescence as tinny arpeggios and electronic synth leads consume the atmosphere. “Anema” utilizes an attention-grabbing piano loop to toy with the natural slowness of his compositions. “Unanswered Prayers” closes the project with warbly, incoherent noises that fail to readily identify themselves as organic or synthetic.
For all of its weighty theoretical questions, This World pleasantly bridges vastly different musical languages and timbres and nurtures them in its all-encompassing reading of our planet. Whether the listener chooses this intentional reading or not, the sounds that Errante whirs together come off as meticulously blended into a sincerely unique soundscape. To risk sounding a bit blunt, the record earns its title. (Josh Hughes)