Bruno Sanfilippo – Unity (DRONARIVM, 2018)

There’s a reductive simplicity in Unity that makes it somewhat difficult to talk about; like lots of Modern Classical and Electroacoustic productions it leans heavily on the violin, cello and in particular the piano to carve out its story lines and textural plot points. It’s not even particularly idiosyncratic; each piece seems to occupy its own distinct space, flesh out its own point in slowly slipping time, though perhaps gently wafting us to conclusion.

The most overtly melancholic pieces here are the loneliest ones, whose sense of togetherness has been wrenched away. Sophomore “One” feels this deeply in its slow motion piano strokes embedded within the teetering violin and despondent cello. It weighs heavy, moving forward in plodding advances and miserably crooning strings burdened with resignation. Sibling “Entity” has a similarly isolationist feel, the piano returning in heavy and laboured chords at the core. Violin strings begin to supplement in sensitive motions, strokes of paint and charcoal that apply contour and definition to the edges of this 2-dimensional personality lost in fantasy.

There’s a nonchalant and almost apathetic feeling to penultimate “Cyclical” that subtly maintains that moroseness in a more indirect way, stripped way down to the bare piano, strings lost to the distance. It laps on the senses like another tide washing over land, fading away like the last remnant of Sun into the night, like the soil reclaiming the dead.

There are nicely juxtaposed moments to break the wearier tracks though; “Lux” is an outright beauty, the piano twinkly and bright and dainty, the strings soft and airy. It sounds like something out of time, the sunny carefreeness of a Victorian garden or something, echoes of pleasantries past bleeding out of the careful flowerbeds and aged statuettes. Nothing else quite reaches its heights, though closing title track “Unity” comes close.

It’s a remarkably different piece to the others, more texturally intricate and comprised of more unique components than the others. It feels appropriately fleshed out, diverse, synergistic. It shuffles on electronic beds, synths oozing out of its fabric, steel strings dancing alongside the ivories and soothing, elongate cello. A sense of wholeness, of completeness, is finally achieved. It doesn’t feel earthshattering or surprising, it just feels…right. Like a key aligning in its respective lock, or a puzzle piece slipping into the final spot.

All in all it’s a sweet listening experience, with lots of little enchanting (if perhaps somewhat lachrymose) corners to get lost in.