Giardini di Mirò: Il Fuoco
City Centre Offices

Everyone's favourite Italian post-rock band returns with a new album that's not, in fact, a collection of new songs but rather a soundtrack the group composed for Il Fuoco (The Fire), an Italian silent movie released in 1915 and directed by Giovanni Pastrone. So while the music sounds unmistakably like Giardini di Mirò, it's also Giardini di Mirò in full-blown soundtrack mode. As such, there are no vocals to distract one's attention away from the (imagined) visuals (notwithstanding some wordless vocalizing during a couple of tracks), and the material—as beautiful as it often is—assumes the character of music designed to supportively accompany moving images.

Performed for the first time in Turin October 28th, 2007 and subsequently laid down in Bologna by band members Corrado Nuccini, Emanuele Reverberi, Francesco Donadello, Jukka Reverberi, Luca Di Mira, and Mirko Venturelli, Il Fuoco was released in Italy in 2009 and now receives an international distribution via City Centre Offices. The soundtrack gets off to a haunting start with an elegant arrangement for clarinet, strings, and guitar in track two, and then moves through four shorter episodes before lighting a post-rock fire in track seven. The eighth is an experimental electroacoustic setting for piano, percussion, and electronics that ultimately builds towards a roaring climax before shifting into four minutes of driving post-rock fueled by vibes, strings, and a burning spire of electric guitars. A subsequent cacophanous meltdown of screeches and ammunition firing follows, which leaves one wondering what might be transpiring visually, until the noise subsides and arcing guitars sing a mournful song alongside a funereal drum pattern. In the penultimate track, the bright ping of glockenspiel tinkles offsets the moans of anguished spirits before Il Fuoco enters its final moments with the group giving full voice to the mournful material.

The album explores multiple moods and dynamic contrasts as it works through its twelve pieces (grouped into three sections representing different moments in a passionate love story: “La Favilla” [The Spark]; “La Fiamma” [The Flame]; and “La Cenere” [The Ash]), with some sections loud and intense and others ponderous and restful (the third track is especially memorable for featuring a lovely clarinet and melodica duet). Being a soundtrack makes the album seem like a somewhat anomalous release for the band, yet Il Fuoco nevertheless features plenty of the melancholy and graceful guitar playing that's become one of the band's signatures.

October 2010