[Reviewed by stark]
It’s always good to see musicians and labels expanding their horizons. Like Selfishadows, an Italian project by Daniele Giustra, whom you might remember from neo/dark folk output, The Well Of Sadness. Like Bunkier Productions, a Polish label specializing in neofolk and martial releases. At least up to this date.
Some albums open their heart after several listens. You have to dig deep to find all the nuances, the tiny details covered under another layer, something that makes sense after a while when you’re able to embrace the whole thing and understand its reason and cause. “Nothing” isn’t one of them, it’s simple music that you’ll find atractive even during the very first listen. But I feel that in this case it’s simplicity equals honesty. It’s like Daniele just entered the studio and without big words or big thoughts just recorded the musical eqivalent of what was hidden inside his soul. The effect is truly touching and heartbreaking.
It’s raining outside, the sky is grey and I know that for another couple of months this will be the dominating aura in Poland. I’m alone at home and have plenty of time to think. Recalling some moments from the past; some pleasant, some less pleasant but still arousing a touch of melancholia and bittersweet feelings. I mean I’m happy now, I have everything I need, I don’t expect anything more from life than what I’ve already achieved or I’m able to achieve. I just want people to read our magazine, to like my musical project Embers Below Zero, to travel with my girlfriend a few times a year and that’s ok. I don’t need to be particularly rich or have dozens of women or whatever. But while thinking of the past I’m starting to wonder where I’d be if I’d done some things differently. Nothing extraordinary, just if I had said “yes” instead of “no” or if I had eventually called her back instead of being quiet. Would I be somewhere else today?
I feel like this album is somehow about it. These are just simple, often minimal analogue synth parts and sequences, sometimes assisted by a guitar. And Daniele’s voice, often sounding like that of a person in his midlife, maybe a bit tired, surely experienced with life. Thinking of the past as well. I have to admit, he’s a much better singer today. During The Well Of Sadness times his singing was often out of tune and even a large amount of reverb didn’t help (but let’s be clear, I always found it quite charming). On “Nothing” his expression is restrained, even close to whispering.
The melodies hit you very quickly. They’re very catchy. The warm oldschool spirit covers you better than a blanket. It would sound great in vinyl. There are the elements of new wave, a tiny bit of post punk perhaps, a little bit of gothic, but the one from the 80s, obviously. And an ambient aura hovering over all ten songs. If I had to find a point of reference I’d say Antlers Mulm, though I guess the Germans are a bit colder and the wall of intimacy between them and the listener is thicker. Everytime I listen to “Nothing”, I notice a tiny orange light floating around my room, I feel a pleasant warmth on my body, but with a touch of sadness deep inside.
And you know what, the more I listen to it, the more I start to realize that this is one of the finest albums I’ve heard lately. It doesn’t have any unnecessary elements; beauty through asceticism and minimalism. Even the cover and the booklet contain solely the titles, the artist’s thanks and who/where info. Who needs anything else? I don’t. The music speaks for itself.