3 out of 5
Label: un je-ne-sais-quoi
Produced by: Domotic (recorded and mixed by)
An experiment with electronic sound that I don’t think achieves the visuals it’s intending to convey, but is mostly an interesting and rewarding listen… though that reward fizzles quite before the end.
Mixed in stereo and binaural, the latter mix being available as one extended digital track – otherwise we physical media types are getting the stereo, split across a single LP – Palazzo, based on the name and the menagerie cover art, wants to take us on a journey of discovery. Done on a single synth and recorded on a 4-track cassette setup (if I follow the bandcamp blurb), I totally dig Domotic’s (Stéphane Laporte) general sound, which matches plinked and plunked keys with atmospherics, achieving a nice union of electronic and “organic” effects. The two halves are conceptually interesting as well, as the A-side is much warmer in production, and slower to evolve its themes, but it’s also more alien and mysterious in mood; the B-side is squarely electronic but then more sprightly, and simplistic. …That last bit really kills it, though.
While I think both tracks wander, Palazzo (part 1) maintains atmosphere throughout that wandering. When there’s a beat accompanying the journey – at the start – it’s surely very driving, but even once this fades out, the hazy blips and bleeps have us lost out in nature, caught up in the mists post a light rain, eventually just trudging forth in hopefully a straight line, somewhat mindlessly. That effect may be purposeful, but it tips the experience more toward experimental than musical, which is maybe not my preference. This rather continues into (part 2), for better or worse, as the rains pick back up in the form of tinkling keys, which Domotic plays up and down scales for 16 minutes, slowing it down, separating out the key plinks more and more; dissecting the sound. Partially mesmerizing, but almost frustratingly unchanging if you’re “listening” to it, and not letting it sink into the background. Purely subjective, sure, however, even though this final dissection lasts only a few minutes, my several times through this album I kept feeling like those few minutes were interminable.
Anyhow, I’d ultimately recommend listening to the digital version of this. Not to dissuade from a physical purchase, but even to a non audiophile like m’self, the binaural mix sounds so much warmer and more layered than the stereo, plus, experiencing it as one track – even though the digital already has part 1 and 2 playable back to back – just kind of mentally makes a difference in immersion.