My Home, Sinking: Sleet
Enrico Coniglio's latest My Home, Sinking release proves that a cassette release can make as strong an impression as one in any other format. In the case of Sleet, the Venice-born sound artist has packaged its cassette within a customized wrap-around paper cover featuring a woodcut-styled image on the front and on the inside two letterpress-printed inserts displaying recording details and a small pergamino paper bag containing dried brambles. It's issued in a limited run of sixty-six copies, the first six of which include handwritten lyrics and a small portrait of singer Natalia Drepina.
Coniglio can craft an ambient soundscape with the best of them, but My Home, Sinking naturally highlights a different side, this one specifically centered on moody pastoral-folk music that's largely acoustic and redolent of ‘60s music production. And while the project is very clearly Coniglio's baby, Sleet is not a solo recording: in addition to Drepina, it features contributions by flutist Piero Bittolo Bon, cellist Katie English, vibraphonist Peter Paul Gallo, and drummer Giovanni Natoli. Coniglio himself is credited with guitars, electric organ, clarinet duduk, tapes, and vinyls.
The release's ambient-folk soundworld is quickly established by the brief intro “Super Sad True Love Story,” with its vibes and evocative electroacoustic blend, and the haunting title track, a timeless folk song wherein Drepina's voice alternates between undoctored and treated presentations against a backdrop of flute, organ, and arpeggiated acoustic guitar picking. A hint of ‘60s psychedelia seeps into “Sheperd's” when Drepina's spoken text is uttered alongside organ-like mist, and the setting's meditative feel is augmented by the woodsy flutter of the clarinet duduk.
Side B's “Chains,” on the other hand, assumes somewhat of the character of a prog-folk instrumental when mellotron sounds join vibes, flute, acoustic guitar, and drum brushes and cymbals. A few other directions are pursued on the second side, too: though it also includes Drepina's spoken word musings, “Carnival” is an electroacoustic soundscape of the kind more associated with electronic production; and “Cold Stars” moves the recording away from the folk realm by emphasizing e-bow electric guitar textures and ambient-drone atmospherics. Sleet is anything but slapdash in its presentation and content, and with such a generous variety of musical styles on display, Coniglio's cassette outing amounts to a complimentary portrait of the artist.