Avatism: Adamant

One typically expects to read about an artist labouring obsessively over every detail as a debut album is readied for release. It comes as something of a surprise, then, to learn that Thomas Feriero adopted a somewhat different strategy in preparing the tracks for his debut Avatism album. For while Adamant was a year in in the making (in terms of mixing, arranging, and producing), the Milan-based producer gave himself a single day to write each of its thirteen tracks, and strictly held himself to following through on the musical parts that were developed in those one-day cycles. Judging by the sixty-five-minute result (which arrives in the wake of well-received EPs on Vakant and Dumb Unit), it would appear that Feriero's confidence in his abilities was well-founded.

The bubbly IDM-techno skip of the opening title track starts things off promisingly, but one's ears truly perk up the moment the club-ready second track, “Different Spaces,” arrives. Sound design is what one notices first, specifically the unusual, garage-styled percussive sounds Feriero threads together to form the cut's funky house swing. Brooding in tone, the body-shaker receives a strong boost from a smooth and seductive vocal performance by London-based producer Forrest, the first of a number of collaborations that enliven the album.

Still, “Different Spaces” is such a note-perfect vocal-instrumental realization, it makes what follows suffer slightly by comparison, as credible as the subsequent tracks are. Some do, however, stand out. There's “Bitter Reminiscence” (a collaboration with Clockwork aka Francesco Leali), a memorable study in contrast that deftly juxtaposes a charging disco-fied pulse and melodic textures that exhale at a fraction of the speed. “Laments” receives a nice boost from the addition of guitar playing by Federico Rizzo, though the track's percussive thrust proves to be as appealing a detail, while “Serpentine” dusts off an insistently funky groove that's hard to resist.

Apparently Feriero moved to Berlin to work on the project, and the album vibe reflects it in its late-night, semi-decadent Euro feel. Oft moody and pensive in spirit, the polished Adamant succeeds as well on purely listening grounds as it does dancefloor material. One just as easily pictures the infectious acid-house chug of “Planetario,” for example, drawing clubbers to the floor as inducing swoons in those recovering in the lounge at night's end. Don't be deceived by the production-related detail, by the way: each track might have been written in a day, but the sound design throughout is elaborate and multi-layered (resourceful, too, given the occasional presence of found sounds and field recordings), suggesting that a considerable investment of time went into bringing the material to finished form.

December 2013