The UK-based label Priviliged To Fail Records have done an immense public service in releasing a superb new triple CD by Fabio Orsi entitled Random Shades of Day.
Fabio is originally from Taranto, Italy but is now based in Berlin. He is such a prolific artist that it is hard to keep track of his release schedule, not least because many of his recordings come out as limited runs on small labels or as self released CDRs.
This box set is therefore invaluable as it includes two CDs of previously unreleased and out-of-print material spanning his career to date. As an added bonus, a third disc is a four-part piece of all new tunes from which the album gets its title.
His stock in trade is ambient electronica using extended drones, keyboard/ guitar loops, eery voices and found sounds.
I first came across Fabio’s work through his sublime collaboration with Gianluca Becuzzi on the splendidly titled ‘Muddy Speaking Ghosts Through My Machines (A Silent Place, 2006). Here, ghostly sampled voices were taken from the folk songs collected by Alan Lomax and illustrated perfectly how the old, weird songs of the past could have a contemporary resonance. (Incidentally, the six tracks from Fabio’s first EP (I’m EP Here) on the first CD of Random Shades Of Day are not to be confused with tracks called I’m Happy Here from this album ).
A track title like ‘Faded On The Blowing Of Winter’ gives some clues about what sort of atmosphere to expect but many other tracks are either unnamed or have more neutral titles. Trying to say exactly what makes such music work is a challenge since there are hardly any beats to describe and no lyrics to analyse. In other words, the question is how do you describe abstract music except in an abstract way?
In his reviews for the excellent Foxy Digitalis website, Brad Rose is expert in evoking nature and drawing upon his subjective experience of how the music makes him feel. Take , for instance, this extract from his 10 star review of Leaves by Eugene Carchesio & Leighton Craig: “It hints at dark clouds overhead and torrential rains ominously looking on. But you feel at peace. This is so beautiful I can barely stand it”.
I find it hard to write in this way. At the back of my mind is the fear that I will end up sounding as pretentious as Jilly Goolden did in the 70s when, during BBC 2’s Food And Drink show, she subjected viewers to wildly elaborate descriptions of the wine she was tasting. An example of her unhinged style can be found her 1973 book ‘Good Wines’, where she described a Marc Chauvet 1994 Brut thus: “a taste that can only cause one to reminisce on days spent frolicking after summer rain in the emerald meadows of one’s youth; a greenness that, though one subconsciously resists, not wanting to experience the death of the wine’s original succulence, eventually comes to dominate.”
It has to be admitted , however, that ,in seeking to capture the mood of experimental ambient sounds, metaphors drawn from nature do work particularly well. The music may be manufactured in the sterile environment of a studio but the best of this genre tends to evoke images of water or woodland – fluid or flowing like a stream or as else as dense and tangled as a dark forest.
Adjectives that spring to my mind when listening to Fabio Orsi’s music are: warm, delicate, calming, melting, meditative, drifting, luminous, spiritual, woody and airy. Or, perhaps I could just plagiarise the colourful vocabulary of Jilly Goolden and use the same words she used in describing a delicious Croatian wine : “bags of personality but not cluttered with sweetness”.
However you define it, the bottom line here is that for the price of a single CD you get almost three hours of wonderfully evocative music. And since there are only 500 copies available you should hurry to order a copy NOW.