I must confess that whenever I see a new EP or album from any artist signed to K-Scope records, I’m immediately intrigued. For me at least, K-Scope carries a seal of quality, with the likes of Porcupine Tree, Lunatic Soul, Katatonia and TesseracT among the highly-regarded list of artists signed to the label over the years and NOSOUND certainly deserve their position amongst that impressive line-up.
Giancarlo Erra and co’s latest release, entitled ‘Scintilla’, marks their 5th album to date, though anyone familiar with their previous efforts shouldn’t expect more of the same, as this is a significant departure, stripping down the vast majority of symphonic elements and instead delivering a much more melancholic, soulful vibe.
For starters, the beautiful and emotive ‘Short Story’ provides a simply stunning panoramic opener, which carries a Shoegaze / Post Rock style similar to that of fellow label-mates Anathema and Gazpacho. There’s even a small sprinkling of Sigur Ros in there too.
‘Last Lunch’ is an enjoyable song too, with some complex jazz rhythms, deep grooves and laid-back atmosphere, whilst ‘In Celebration Of Life’ provides a more uplifting vibe, awash with lush synth pads and an epic, soaring guitar solo.
The album begins to drift towards an increasingly downbeat, melancholic mood with the introspective ‘Emily’ and bitter sarcasm of ‘Love Is Forever’. Regardless of whether this is a direction the listener is happy for the band to take, there is very little doubt that this marks possibly the darkest and most personal of NOSOUND’s material to date.
I’m at least relieved to say that the album plays out with the sublimely surreal, beautiful title track ‘Scintilla’, featuring an emotive piano arpeggio and soft swathe of pads that gradually transition into a mid-tempo, brass marching band crescendo. What is lovely about ending on this song is that the positive tone of the music provides a sense of hopefulness, ultimately leaving the listener with a feeling of elation as the album comes to a close. Whilst there is genuine purpose and reason for the earlier melancholy, it feels extremely satisfying to break through all of that negative emotion by the end of the record.
Scintilla welcomes the addition two guest vocalists, kicking off with acclaimed Italian singer Andrea Chimenti, lending his talents on ‘Sogno E Incendio’, whilst Anathema’s Vincent Cavanagh provides vocals on two tracks, ‘In Celebration Of Life’ and ‘The Perfect Wife’.
Despite the soft Shoegaze sound, there’s a strong undercurrent of loathing and hopelessness throughout this album, which clearly represents a turbulent and unsettlingly fragile period for Giancarlo.
Listening on a purely musical and somewhat superficial level without being drawn into the lyrical subject matter, the album is actually very easy-going the majority of the time, however it’s a much more challenging yet rewarding experience to engage with the songs on a deeper level.
Executed with incisive professionalism that comes with a mixture of visionary talent and vast experience, these guys really know how to stir feelings and draw the listener in with their musical soundscapes. The only drawback for me is that something this personal may alienate the casual fan and may appeal more so to anyone who closely identifies with the themes covered or has a deep connection with and/or interest in the song-writer’s emotional journey.
Video: NOSOUND – Short Story