Long time readers may remember composer BJM Mario Bajardi from Glass Orchestra, in particular “The Sound of Wine.” A decade ago, we predicted a cinematic career, and we were right ~ he’s also gone on to work in theatre and installation. VORTEX began as one such installation, in which fifteen of the artist’s artworks were paired with compositions, like wine and cheese. Visitors donned headsets to hear the music while appreciating his digital artwork.
Despite the breadth of Bajardi’s work to date, one may still be surprised at the timbre of VORTEX. The album may begin in ambient-electronic fashion, but the huge blasts of “Viper Drops” and the percussion of “Varjent” signal a more aggressive direction that borrows from adventure scores and modern rock. Late in “Viper Drops,” the composer adds a chime line reminiscent of Depeche Mode, who is named as an influence; “Varjent” uses power tools in a manner reminiscent of 90s trance.
These are smart dance tunes, graced with hints of modern composition, but they are also clear invitations to the club. All eleven tracks (we’re wondering where the other four went) are short enough to be singles, although “Démodé” pushes it at 4:49. And here’s where it gets interesting: démodé means no longer fashionable or out of date, and Depeche Mode means update or shipping news. So while Bajardi is updating an alternative/new wave sound, he’s also poking fun at the thought that old music is no longer fashionable, although the pandemic changed all that by sparking a new nostalgia ~ ironically making this retro album perfect for the modern age.
This being said, the album’s finest track is one of its subtlest. On “K7,” all of Bajardi’s influences are combined. The percussion recalls the early wine glasses. An ambient undercurrent returns, while a hint of new wave permeates throughout. Over the past decade, the composer has kept what has worked, discarded what hasn’t, and continued to add new timbres to his tool kit. We predict he’ll still be going strong in another ten years, although the form of his output may be completely different than it is now. (Richard Allen)