[Reviewed by stark]
Ekra is another project of the master of touching lullabies, Davide Borghi. However, unlike Albireon and The Blue Project, Ekra is a solo output of the musician who under this sign refers to gullible, childlike feelings, sorrows and longings. The previous album was called “Pills For An Ill Silly Heart”. The one I’m dealing with today, a CDr released by Looney-Tick, is named “A Shelter For Stolen Teddybears”. Very significant titles, giving hope for a dose of simple, but not cheap feeling. In the flood of releases I somehow missed the artist’s debut, released in 2011 by Disques de Lapin, but I can say with a clear conscience that this sad shelter for lost plushies satisfies my emotional needs more than enough.
Lasting a bit more than half an hour, it’s not a long album. Just enough I’d say, because it’s very sad music, though not totally deprived of hope. Sometimes bright, sunny rays try to break through the clouds, maybe not in the notes themselves, but in the aura surrounding the music. Whatever our life is, at least have it. Not everyone is so lucky – the seventh composition is titled “Lullabies To Empty Incubators”.
In his main project, Albireon, Davide penetrates the neofolk genre, making it in his own, original way, far from clichés. The atmosphere of the second Ekra release is not particularily far from Albireon, but the musician uses other means for its creation. These are primarily electronic loops, often aided by other strange sounds; I’ve the impression that the source of some of them may be different kinds of toys. The musician’s voice, processed and passed through weird devices , is far from Albireon as well. All this paints an unreal, dreamy atmosphere, full of mysterious creatures; talking teddybears bravely wandering through the forest where the monsters lurk. Except that eventually everything turns out to be the result of the workings of child’s mind, wanting to separate himself from the horror of the reality of everyday life. Like “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Bridge to Terabithia”, or the less obvious, but equally great movie, “Paperhouse” from 1988. This impression is intensified by the cover depicting several seemingly random brush strokes, but if you use your imagination you can see a silhouette made of a few strokes (this is how children draw human figures, right?) standing under a big tree and raising its arms towards it.
Nobody said it was going to be an easy and pleasant journey. While there are some nice sounding electronic passages, Davide isn’t afraid to try a more uncompromising approach by throwing framework impurities in the composition: glitches, dissonances and even gentle noise pieces (“I Breathe The Pale Soothing Ocean Of Nothingness”). And it all is quite impressive, though, just as in Albireon, he moves me the most in the directly heartfelt and tear- squeezing moments. As in the wonderful “As Lost As A Stolen Teddybear”, where accompanied by a poignant melody and the sound of a babbling child, Davide declaims sounding like a combination of David Tibet and Vincent Cavanagh.
Few musicians can arouse such emotion in me with such regularity, making that something is clutching my throat. And yet he seems like a cheerful man. Maybe because this aforementioned serenity is trying to make its presence known somewhere… Or perhaps I’m misrepresenting something? See for yourself.