Eibon Records/Radiotarab Records, 2010
1) September ’82
2) Tu Sei La Luna
3) Senza Fiato
4) Quando Non Ci Sarò
5) Last Words Settembre
6) Scatole Di Latta
7) Un Fiore Nero Di Profumo
If you haven’t heard of Alison Wait (and no, it’s not an MTV singer), don’t be surprised. This Italian duo are hardly prominent even in the underground circles, mostly because it seems they don’t want to be anyway. The album in question here is their first and only album so far, released a couple of years ago to little pomp on the still relevant Eibon Records. And were it not for the instantly loveable cover art placed on the record label’s homepage, I might even have missed the release completely. Which I’m free to say could be counted as some of my most hapless choices, which is the reason for this late review in the first place.
This is a special album. A peculiar album. One that will disperse any attempt to approach it objectively within a minute. It’s not exactly dark ambient, not exactly electro-wave, not exactly instrumental… It’s impossible to capture its essence with such limited vocabulary. The composition is very simple, coming down to only a few motives per track, usually a leading melody or vocal samples with a supporting background. The elements used are very diverse, though, combining many of the aforementioned genres, using even keyboards and (heavily processed) guitars for good measure. From deep dark ambient such as the closing “Vision” to the almost over-the-top synth-laden “Last Words Settembre”, every track is like a completely different slide, with a constant flow of new images belonging to the same concept. Think of it as going through your childhood photo-album, depicting all the various scenes you barely remember, yet all of which seem so strangely familiar. Your laughs, your tears, your bemusement… They seem very singular in such a context today, don’t they?
Few albums have their covers so suitably crafted to correspond with the content. Stare into it for a few seconds, and you’ll start feeling dragged in, as if you’ve found a long-lost emotion. And you’re not quite sure what to make of it either. The teddy bear, the hearts, the soft strikes of the brush forming the strong and saturated background are merely the external appearance for the lush drones and tender voices and whispers that feel so comprehensible, even if in Italian. It’s no coincidence that this band keeps all content, track titles included for the better part, in their mother tongue. You may not speak a word of it, but it’s impossible to remain indifferent to this melodic, descriptive language, the very use of which seems to create atmosphere. That said, it’s clear that this album is centred around a single core – melancholy. A melancholy not pitch black as you’d usually expect from such a background, but one of all colours, in a violent, overbearing, confusing commotion, which you can only try to untangle before the album ends in what must be one of the most convincing closures ever.
Track by track, this album is a set of remarkable compositions, but on the whole, it’s the most insistent invite to introspection I've ever received. It strikes from a completely unexpected direction, pierces what you thought was conveniently hidden, and shows you who you really are. That teddy bear on the cover? That’s your teddy bear, conveniently stowed away on your emotional loft, leaving space for more mature objects. Alison Wait is there to blow the door wide open. Have a look inside. Revisit the loft. Let it speak to you. You might find something you didn’t even realise was lost.