Antonio Trinchera: Spirits Write Letters
Though Antonio Trinchera is described as an Italian guitarist-composer, his second album, Spirits Write Letters, is more a full-fledged electronica set than a pure guitar album. Oh, sure, electric guitar is a central sound element, but so too are the ambient contexts that Trinchera creates for the guitar to appear within on this hour-long collection. It's primarily a solo affair, too, though Trinchera is helped out on a small number of the thirteen tracks by Italian vocalist Nikaelo, pianist Dony Valentino, and bassist Dario Antonelli. Other than that, however, it's Trinchera who's responsible for creating the album's oft-evocative set-pieces.
A consistent design establishes itself as the album unfolds, with each of the pieces weighing in at between four and five minutes. Electronic beats and ambient textures form rich backgrounds against which a front-line of guitar, vocal, and piano melodies resound. As mentioned, guitar is a natural focal point on the release, though not the only one (echoing sprinkles of piano, not guitar, dominate “Doll and the Moon,” for example). “Mutazioni” places guitar front and center to voice the song's stately theme, while grainy guitar and electronic textures form a backdrop for the title track's brooding melodies and “Connecting..[sic]” adds slide guitar playing to the project.
A generous stylistic range is covered, with everything from dramatic sci-fi ambiance (“Genesi”) to digi-dub (“Cnaipe Oiche,” in which Antonelli's bass is put to good use). “Speak to Me” begins as an exercise in bleepy electronica before Valentino's swinging piano playing recasts it as a jazz-electronica workout. An occasional ambient reverie surfaces, no one of them more captivating than “Capovento,” which memorably underlays high-pitched melodic figures with a dream-like foundation of synthetic swirls and tick-tock percussive flutter. Nikaleo's less of a dominant presence than the norm for vocalists. On “Sound of Broken Shell,” for instance, she's heard as both a subdued speaking voice and as an atmospheric spirit gliding amongst the track's dub-ambient scene-painting.In the final analysis, Spirits Write Letters is an electronica album more than anything else, which is something of a rarity in 2012. Not all that long ago, a deluge of electronica recordings flooded the market, but that's no longer the case. That development helps make Spirits Write Letters sound fresher than it otherwise might under other circumstances.