Open to the Sea – Another Year Is Over

Posted: 1 January 2020 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Midira Records – MD080 – 13th December 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s new year’s day, 2020. Like many, I’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting on the passing year: I usually do around this time, remembering where I was a year ago, two, three, five, ten years previous. Wondering precisely what I’ve got to show for it. that slow, sad, weight of nostalgia as the images captured in memories fade and curl around at the corners. Wondering: was I actually happier then, less prone to panic, or is this simply rose-tinting, psychological refuge in the comfort of the known, the life lived, rather than the fearful prospect of the unknown future? Such conflict, such dichotomy and dilemma.

And so, another year is indeed over, and here we are, staring into the void. Teetering on the brink of the abyss of a new decade in a post-fact, post-truth world where the capitalist world teeters on the brink of self-induced collapse and global climate catastrophe. And there is no success like failure.

We’ve failed as individuals, and as a species. The year is over… so what is there in prospect?

Open to the Sea’s new album, released late December provides the soothing backdrop to my existential strife, and it’s barely there for the most part. And yet, it’s there just enough: understated, yet still clearly stated.

The press release provides some useful insight into the album’s origins and its creators: ‘Open To The Sea is the collaboration project of Matteo Uggeri and Enrico Coniglio and Another Year Is Over is their second album. While Coniglio focusses on guitar, synths and other instruments, Uggeri adds samples and field recordings to create a soundcosmos full of tiny melodies and themes with appereance by some guest musicians on drums, trumpet and cello. That would make a perfect experimental ambient album with jazzy moments, but Uggeri & Coniglio push this release further by adding some vocals to most of the tracks by inviting guest singers like Dominic Appleton (This Mortal Coil) or Lau Nau from Finland.’

Minimal post-rock forged from sparse piano notes which drift into a rarefied air, spun with subtle, near-subliminal swirls of ambience, and stammering, glitching beats that hammer like a palpating heartbeat rattling in a tense ribcage, and picked guitar notes waft into the ether.

With different vocalists contributing to the various tracks, the tone and feel changes: ‘Heavy Like a Falling Leaf’ is soft, airy, yet poised, while ‘Uninvited Ghost’ and ‘Crystal Dog Barks’ feature a spoken word lyrical delivery, which in some respects changes both the dynamic and balance, and the function of the musical accompaniment, rendering the piece less a song and more of a narrative with instrumental backing.

‘Duduk Confession’ is hushed, brooding, with haunting strings and ominous hums lingering in the shadows, and on ‘Tapes and Cows Pt 1’, lonely brass wails softly over low notes to produce the most forlorn jazz imaginable. Scraping strings and frosty synth flickers accompany the deepest woe, which gradually evolves into warped space-age electro that melts into some warbling jazz trumpet.

The penultimate composition, ‘facing the waves’ is by far the most conventionally ‘songy’ of the ten, with a straight-ahead drum rhythm and solid piano providing the primary instrumentation on a whispy indie/shoegaze work. The fading refrain of ‘time now to start again’ is sung by a layered-up vocal set and, unexpectedly, Interpol come to mind.

The final song, ‘Another Year is Over, Let’s wait for Springtime’, with its whispering dialogue and soft dulcimer shimmers and soft, snowy strings that glide smoothly into the darkest corners, reminds me of my urge to hibernate, but also the fact that everything passes in time and everything is cyclical. Yesterday, today, tomorrow – they’re all points on a circle, and as linear as life lived is, as sure as birth and death, one year will follow the last, and so it will go on, whether we’re here or not.

AA

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Comments
  1. Thanks so much for this great review, that is actually much more than a review. Best, Matteo

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