Federico Balducci’s Dans differénts cerles… (aether)
Federico Balducci isn’t out to please, if his latest effort is any indication of the fact. Rather, if anything, he seems to want to turn any and all consumer expectations on their head. Therefore, Dans differénts cerles… (aether) won’t be for everyone, its self-distributed, digital release serving as something of a warning to the millennial listener hooked on Jason Derulo, G-Eazy, Cardi B, and Lady GaGa. If you have a place for artists like Brian Eno or French duo AIR, the transition might be easier. Yet true musicians and artists arguably serve to craft new and innovative approaches to timeless mediums. Balducci belongs in the latter camp.
The only thing binding together the shapeshifting, chameleonic nature of each song on the record are subtle but undeniable little details individually in each of the tracks. These details initially seem like nothing more than additional fodder to the song, but don’t be fooled. The slight humming in the first track – titled ‘Introduction’ – is a calling card for the sudden left turn of the next, plunging the listener for a slightly unnerving calm a la neo-classical into something out of a horror film. Suddenly, an electric guitars roars into the sonic night – transitioning us from a realm of fear into a viscerally angry love song on track three, titled ‘Come to my window’.
The only other constant in Dans differénts cerles… (aether) is Balducci’s clear and transparent passion. The entire record demands listeners to hear the music through the best possible headphones you can get. Every detail, while seemingly chaotic and random, is part of a carefully manicured calculation on Balducci’s part. Skip through a song, and you could miss a myriad of craft and detail that provides a coherence throughout an otherwise madcap sonata of conflicting sound. Whereas Balducci’s more pop-friendly songs sport a purposefully caustic, harsher tone, his neo-classical pieces have a softer, if still somewhat frenzied urgency to them. He never wants you to feel at home or secure listening to each song. Should a pretty melody enter your ears, you’ll soon find yourself fixating on the disturbing, electronically-manipulated undercurrent in the background. Indeed, this fixes the music on Dans differénts cerles… (aether) in a space where it’s less about entertainment or musicality, and more about pushing buttons, provoking thoughts, and keeping the listener slightly off-balance.
Great musicians are great storytellers. And while Balducci doesn’t have clear lyrics that are distinctly interpretive, one can’t help but get a sense of an artistic mania within the constant shapeshifting possibilities in each song. There’s almost the feeling one can get lost in the sound, drifting away from reality into a realm that is as creatively anarchistic as it is frighteningly chaotic. But there’s something undeniably beautiful about Balducci’s calculated freedom to make music within his own, set confines, and within those confines to enable rollercoasters of sound to rapture the listener. But tonally there’s something frightening in those implications as well, a darkness that is as gorgeous as it is repellant to traditionalists.