As a music reviewer, nothing is more frustrating than to listen to an album, know you want to write a favorable review of it,
and yet not have a clue how to do it. That's where I find myself with the latest album from Bruno Sanfilippo, Visualia.
I must have listened to this album at least ten times..
I know I like it (even love parts of it), but I simply can't wrap my hands around 'why' except to say it is exceptionally
imagined as a musical voyage through an assortment of ambient, and EM soundscapes.
While it canbe somewhat uncohesive as a whole, Sanfilippo's music has threads of commonality running throughout the entirety of the recording.
There are moments of elegance and beauty here, such as on the first track with its undulating keyboards and shimmering textures
(all the songs, by the way, are titled Visualia followed by a Roman numeral to distinguish them, hence this song is Visualia I)
Visualia II opens with an ominous drone that ebbs and flows, building in drama, until you realize that a pleasant bell-like cascading sequence
is emerging from the distance, as well as new age-style flowing melodies.
The pseudo-metronome effect of the cascade counterpoints the breath-like quality of the ebb/flow drone.
Visualia III offers an opening dose of ethno-tribal percussive textures merging with a swell of organ chords and rainstick rattles in the background.
The mood is ominous compared to the opening two songs, until the appearance of a gorgeous female Gregorian choir appears
(and I mean real Gregorian, not that Enigma crap) as well as pealing bells and symphonic strings that are right out of an adagio.
What Sanfilippo specializes in on this album is infusing the various and sundry electronic music stylings he creates with a real sense of the humanity behind them.
Maybe that¹s what I liked most about the CD, i.e. I started getting to know the artist and who he was.
This is not just a haphazard collection of tone poems or ambient noodlings.
Sanfilippo means something on every one of these tracks - I'm convinced of it.
He's just leaving it up to you and me to figure it out. Whether it's the Vangelis-like beauty of Visualia IV with its slow pace and stately melodies, the more abstract ambient/tribal subterranean textures and solemn chorales of Visualia V, the nature-sound enhanced
(falling rain) soft but sad drifting ambience of Visualia VI that morphs into an almost spiritual celebration amidst bells and quavering synths,
or the Danna/Clement-ish Visualia VII, this is an album that requires a substantial investment from the listener, both in terms of time and attention in order to really appreciate what it going on within its sixty-minutes.
I haven' t even mentioned every song (by a long shot) and that will be part of the fun when you hear this (as you should).
Unlike so many recordings, which are unrelentingly unexciting, Visualia at least tries (and frequently succeeds) in doing something different,
i.e. engaging you, the listener, in participating and not just sitting there letting it wash over you.
While the music is not challenging in and of itself, the album taken as a whole is, since it stubbornly refuses to be placed in a nice neat compartment.Personally, I'm glad artists like Sanfilippo are still stretching the boundaries of this genre and I hope he continues to do so.
Visualia is filled with bright swirls of sound, brimming with optimism, full of sonic imagery.
Simply titled “Visualia I,” “Visualia II,” and so forth, the listener is able to project their own interpretation into the music and what it represents.
Ambient background noise serves as a marker for transitions between tracks – water, people milling about, unidentifiable textured sounds,
and so on.
After two lighter tracks, the mood turns darker with “III,” as rich drones and soft shakers turn to nature sounds, female choirs,
rattling metallic sounds from an unknown source, and strings. Simply beautiful.
The disc blurs the lines between dark ambient, world, and new age music. I can’t really compare Sanfilippo to other artists that I listen to regularly, though there are hints of everything from Phillip Glass.“Visualia V” has great spatial effects, as water seems to drip from every corner.
After floating abstractly for over five minutes, primitive drums take to the fore in convincing fashion. Water themes continue on “VI,”
a delicate atmospheric number. “VIII” even has sleigh bells, but they fit perfectly with the rest.
Visualia is all about imagination, music that puts images in your head and then carries you there
'Journeys to the Infinite'
VISUALIA is another pleasant surprise for me.This work possesses a powerful,
ethereal quality evoking treasured meditations and awakening a new appreciation of the numberless faces of the Sacred.
Through Sanfilippo's music and Janet Parke's fractal images, VISUALIA shows us that the destiny of art is , independent of changing paradigms, to forever reflect the light of infinity. From beyond this mutual conjuction of sound and image,comes this incipient music radiating into the intimacy of the heart and the immensity of the spheres.
From Spain comes this ambient artist whose latest album Visualia is inspired by the graphic computer art of Janet Parke.
Sanfilippo has tried to take the "form, colour, texture and light" of graphic artwork into his music so that the listener will be "transferred
towards an inward and timeless dimension which encourages imagination and fantasy".
Most tracks are calm(ish) with a nice blend of semi-acoustic and electronic sounds, usually structured as ambient pads with moving soundscapes, tribal rythms or percussion sounds on top. The range of sounds are wide, from human vocals to exotic percussion and pure electronics, which gives an honest and organic overall feel to the album.
But to me, the music leans too much in the soft and bland new age direction, rather than serious ambient music.
There are cute little melodies / sequences, passages of rain, thunderstorms, flutes, windchimes etc, sounds I associate with fluffy and "beautiful" new age music that unfortunately fails to connect on a deeper level. Good production values can't compensate for a somewhat
"easy listening" collection of soothing tracks, but by all means, if you need an hour of good non-intrusive electronic(ish) new age music,
give Visualia a try.
With his 5th album he attempts to make music that awakes images hidden in our memory,
but which also corresponds to the fractal art images of American visual artist Janet Parke which are also featured in the booklet. Well, Visualia sounds quite intimate and imaginative at times, in the 3rd track it even turns a bit grand with beautiful symphonic textures, voice and deep bass-tones. Things don’t stay that quiet as “Visualia V” gets things moving with great tribal percussion, before things slow down again in the next track with deep, sometimes ethereal ambient textures and environmental sounds. “Visualia VII” moves into some
Tim Story-environment with treated piano and bell-sounds. The dreamy effect is a bit lost in the final track, which is a bit dreary.
All in all, Visualia is well produced recording, there’s sure something for any general ambient-fan to be found.