Esperanza: Esperanza
Gomma Records

Esperanza's self-titled debut presents forty-five minutes of lustrous scene-painting from a new Italian group featuring Carlo Dall'Amico (aka Cécile), Matteo Lavangna, and Sergio Maggioni. The three bring an almost orchestral sensibility to the album's nine settings, with expansive arrangements featuring violins, accordions, glockenspiels, and other instruments in addition to the conventional electronic and acoustic sounds one expects to hear on an instrumental album. The three try on different stylistic guises, too, with the material's scope wide-ranging in the extreme, and at times they create arresting hybrids by combining disparate genres within a single song.

Contrary to its title, “Wasting Our Time” does anything but in marrying a sultry vocal mantra (the title, naturally) to a gently breezy backdrop of dub bass lines and soothing tropical atmospherics, and the swooning second song, “Sirena,” is, if anything, even dreamier (its title perhaps an allusion to The Odyssey's Sirens). “Aliante Giallo” spotlights a different side of the band, in this case a more motorik one that blends krautrock and Cologne techno, while “Jaipur” likewise roars with a Primal Scream-like fervour, with raw electric guitar stabs raging alongside a driving electro-techno pulse. “Fiore” melds the reverberant kick of a bass-heavy dubstep groove with electric guitar flourishes and, most unexpectedly, dreamy accordion-styled chords. On a serenading tip is “Whale,” a slow-motion exercise in dub-inflected dreamscaping, whereas “Harp,” in a return to the orchestral style with which the album begins, closes the album effectively with four minutes of syntheszer sequencer patterns, bell strikes, vocals, and, yes, harp swirls. Esperanza may not be a game-changer (not that it aspires to be), but it's nonetheless an eminently credible and satisfying collection by this new Italian outfit.

January 2012