Saturday 1 December 2018

Dark Ambient Review: Manifestazioni

Dark Ambient Review: Manifestazioni

Review by Casey Douglass


I’m a big fan of dark ambient music that makes clever use of field recordings, whether to bring forth creatures snuffling in the dark, or more simply, to bring the real world into a soundscape. Carlo Giustini’s Manifestazioni falls into the latter category, but manages to turn the various rumblings and bumpings into something far more magical and otherworldly.

Album Blurb:
A manifestation is an object that clearly shows or embodies something abstract or theoretical”

These are five untamed field recordings captured between the desolate streets of suburban Treviso in late June 2018. Five explorations of the secret language whispered by its houses and by the slow and mysterious movements of its inhabitants exhausted by the summer heat. […] All five recordings are first single takes, recorded on worn out tape rolls found here and there. All recordings captured with a rusty Phillips portable tape recorder and a contact mic.

The first quality that really came to my notice was the “cushioned” feeling to what probably should have been some quite harsh sounds. Throughout the album, there are instances of industrial type activity, clattering metal, thumps and scrapes, but they rarely caused me to startle or jolt. The word I almost used was muffled, but that doesn’t really fit. They never seem that close to the listener, and the other elements of the tracks seem to take part in this cushioning effect, which is most welcome.

The first of these are the staticy sounds of what appear to be wind and rain. I always find these to be quite relaxing when listened to, the whitenoisey effect lulling and soothing at the same time. There are also pops and crackles that seem to keep the mind of the listener from drifting too deeply into “startle” territory. The other element that takes the sting out of the potentially harsher sounds is the way that the soundscapes often react to them. There is a higher tone that sits above the soundscape, and when a harsher noise happens, it “bings” and resonates in response. It’s like the aural equivalent of dropping a pebble into a pond, the water smoothing out the ripples of its passing. This was a really pleasing effect and one that I enjoyed listening for.

As a whole, Manifestazioni lets the listener eavesdrop on the muted activity of people going about their day or night, from the comfort of the listener's own chair or bed. I’ve always found the sound of others doing things quite relaxing, and Manifestazioni channels this into my mind, with a healthy dose of the magical. Each track is smooth and calm, but each has its own temperament. A3 Ció Che Resta (What Remains or What’s Left if Google translate isn’t lying), is a track that seemed to make me think of an open loading dock at night, with flapping plastic and quiet industry. Yet A2 Manifestazioni itself, was a soundscape that made me think of a dusty basement where something might just step out of thin air and grab me. They are all worth listening to and revelling in.

Check out the Manifestazioni page on Bandcamp at this link

I was given a copy of this album for review purposes.

Album Title: Manifestazioni
Artist: Carlo Giustini
Record label: Lᴏɴᴛᴀɴᴏ Series
Publisher: ROHS! RECORDS
Released: 18 Sept 2018