Cityscape – Brixia is Alessio Dagani‘s love letter to his current home in Northern Italy, an “auditory tour” through seasons and systems. The album follows a loose arc, from morning to soft snow, but pauses to unveil multiple sonic treasures along the way.
After a gentle, bird-etched beginning, the artist turns his attention to gardening and the pleasures of human work song. This is the time to mulch and clip, a gentle sculpting that will yield later returns. The birds offer commentary while cars pass nearby. But the album’s highlight is just around the corner, comprising a full 50% of its time: a stunning 20-minute thunderstorm. As the tracks blend into each other, their proximity yields a sequential narrative. First gentle rumbles of thunder and unconcerned avian cries; then a barking dog, sensing the impending storm; and then suddenly at 5:44, the simultaneous arrival of the rain, a siren and panicked humans scattering for safety. After another minute, one can also sense that some are awed by the storm’s power, which launches into the next level at 11:06. The full piece would be perfect for the seldom-used CD3″ format; it’s a perfect symphony on its own.
In the second half of the album, we meet an extremely insistent cat, with a perfect enunciation of “meow.” Thunder continues to rumble in the distance; highway traffic provides the backdrop. The density drops as night falls, and crickets and cicadas take over, producing a light buzz. Strangely, the “night in the mountain” seems more active than the “night in the city.” Finally, another brief, beautiful piece, the polar opposite of “rain:” “snow” is a minute and a half of gently falling flakes, guiding the listener back to the opening sounds of spring. Brixia (Brescia) seems a lovely place, attractions intact, continuing to shine through any type of weather. (Richard Allen)