Pillow: Flowing Seasons
2nd rec

Pillow's Flowing Seasons is more reminiscent of Sigur Rós and Radiohead than Luca Di Mira's regular band, the Italian combo Giardini di Mirò; one could easily mistake Patrick Zimmer's fragile vocals on “Cut-Out-And-Keep Quarrels” for Thom Yorke's, for example—just one indication of the deep, enveloping ambiance di Mira's material cultivates. Though he occupies the keyboard chair in Giardini di Mirò, di Mira extends his playing to a multitude of instruments—harmonium, melodica, guitar, violin—on Flowing Seasons while also making room for an impressive array of guests (Christophe Stoll aka Nitrada, Andrea Mangia aka Populous, etc.). Even better, his exceptional songwriting abilities are fully showcased by this deeply melancholic collection.

The bar is set high immediately by a beautiful and stately intro. After sombre Rhodes chords introduce the slow-burning ballad “Song For Beginning,” delicate guitar work by Corrado Nuccini, lush clicking beats, and Matilde Davoli's hushed vocalizing enter, amplifying the song's grandeur. Though the disc splits itself between instrumental and vocal pieces, all eight pieces exude dramatic ambiance. In the first grouping, “In Deep Sea” opens with piano chords puncturing pools of rippling static before moving into a nightscape of crunchy beats and portentous strings while gentle cello, violin, and clarinet interplay in “With the Passing of the Seasons” exposes the ambitious scope of di Mira's material. Of the vocal pieces, Jacqueline Tune's affecting voice illuminates the rapturous “Indecision” and mournful “Thick Skin,” while Zimmer's vanishing drawl evokes Jónsi Birgisson's vocal style in “Mixologist & Waifs.” Though one shouldn't necessarily be surprised by Flowing Seasons' superior craft given the quality of Giardini di Mirò's own output, di Mira's first solo release still disarms for being so remarkably accomplished.

March 2006