fri 19/07/2024

Album: Melanie De Biasio - Il Viaggio | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Melanie De Biasio - Il Viaggio

Album: Melanie De Biasio - Il Viaggio

Jazz-rooted Belgian individualist's oblique exploration of her Italian roots

Melanie De Biasio's 'Il Viaggio': a grandparent-inspired deliberation

Il Viaggio is a form of soundtrack. Its lyrics, music and soundscapes are created in response to the journey referenced in the title. Though born and raised in Belgium, Melanie De Biasio’s paternal grandfather was Italian. After the Europalia arts festival contacted her to see if she would create a work on its chosen theme of “Trains & Tracks” she chose to explore her roots. This took her to Abruzzo, in central eastern Italy – where Il Viaggio was born.

The resultant album arrives six years after its predecessor, 2017’s Lillies. Like that goth-flavoured outing, it’s a long way from her roots in jazz. The sprawling, 82-minute Il Viaggio takes in voices recorded in the mountain village of Lettomanoppello, birds chattering and less identifiable ambient noise. The final two tracks are “The Chaos Azure” and “Alba.” The former is just over 20 minutes long and draws a line between Dead Can Dance and Harold Budd; the latter, featuring her atmospheric flute playing, is an ambient mood-piece clocking in at a shade more than 18 minutes.

De Biasio has always had a fondness for trip-hop and fifth track “I'm Looking For” is a text-book excursion into this territory. The impressionistic “Il Vento” is akin to the more out-there moments of Susanne Sundfør’s 2017 album Music for People in Trouble. The delicate “Nonnarina” – recorded in her grandmother’s house in the Dolomites – is also Sundfør-esque but in the vein of this year’s Blómi, another grandparent-inspired deliberation. There is also a kinship with Blind, the recent album by Denmark’s Our Broken Garden. The lyrics are either in Italian or English.

Hearing Il Viaggio in one sitting makes most sense as this album of art-music is clearly conceived as a single entity, to be absorbed in a manner akin to letting a film unfold. There is the odd hiccup though. The downtempo, shuffling drums are little overused so become distracting. A male voice singing wordlessly on “San Liberatore” jars. It feels out of place. What appeared to be De Biasio’s own journey is abruptly interrupted. Nonetheless, Il Viaggio is a compelling, albeit uneven, experience.


This album of art-music is clearly conceived as a single entity, one to be absorbed in a manner akin to letting a film unfold


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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