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.