Galliano Sommavilla – An Ethereal Landscape – Album Review
Ohhhhhhhhh Lucy. You have some ‘splainin’ to do.
When you’re looking at life from this side of the screen and the independent music-scene on a macro level, this can be such a strange place sometimes. There are so many things that we do right, and so many things that we make harder on ourselves; both in equal doses, and constantly. On the one hand, we’ve got incredible artists discovered all the time, just like this fine young man right here named Galliano Sommavilla, of whom you’ve no doubt read about several times on our pages over these past year…and of course, we’ve found a wealth of amazing music from the dude in the process of listening. And on the other hand, he’s no less immune to the shuffling of files & self-imposed obstacles created by artists & bands all over the world – do y’all realize there’s not a day that goes by here where I’m not removing some inactive link, or some file that no longer works, or trying to figure out where something I used to listen to has gone? Chances are you’ve experienced the same thing at times with a bunch of names you love & search for yourselves…you type it in to where you used to tune in from, and now it’s gone. You’ve been Netflixed…cancelled…shut out…or at the very least, you’ve gotta dig about 100% harder to find what you’re looking for buried somewhere out there in the dusty archives of the internet, as opposed to just finding it right where you left it, nice & handy. I’ve yet to find a good reason for this unexplained movement…and yep, I was still kinda shocked at how hard it became to find Sommavilla’s brilliant record called Breathe from 2017 that we reviewed last year & put his music into our top ten at the end of 2020. It’s way tougher to track down now, and most of the copies you’ll find on the net are greyed out or inaccessible…you might find a single here & there, but from what I can tell it’s limited to his official site now – you might just wanna get yourself a copy before it straight-up disappears! These are bizarre moves, I ain’t gonna lie to ya…and like I said, it ain’t just him – it’s practically everyone at some strange point in time throughout their careers – feel free to flood my inbox with explanations on how the subtraction of presence benefits your music & careers…go on, I’ll wait…
That being said, it’s not as if you couldn’t find more music out there by Galliano that wouldn’t fully last you an entire lifetime…don’t get me wrong, there’s no shortage of the overall supply that I’ve ever seen. /end rant
And so here we are! Or at least kind of. Much like we got to Breathe way later than it originally came out, we’re just catching up with one of Sommavilla’s latest from last year called An Ethereal Landscape, and still really just scratching the surface his entire catalog when it comes right down to it. In fact, as far as I can tell, he’s already put out something like four additional records that are even newer than this one is & a couple singles alongside it. I’m realistic when it comes to an artist like this guy – it’d be nearly impossible for us all to keep up to his creative output; I not only respect that, but I find it truly inspiring.
A man born of chilled-out vibes, I liked that “Air And Water” seemed to start the record out with a bit of audible tension & drama in the mix…Galliano’s still as controlled & mellow as you’d expect – he hasn’t exploded into some Metal music all of a sudden…but yeah…there’s real flavor in this first cut that’s a little more intense in that slow-burning type of way. Definitely got me interested right away, and the introduction of the piano melody in this tune, along with the ethereal & atmospheric vocalizations you’ll find sampled in along the way, were absolutely massive highlights to be experienced along the way. Am I surprised we didn’t get more of that exquisite piano melody? You better believe it – it made this song for me – but that being said, y’all know me…I’ll take what I can get & push repeat. Plus, Sommavilla’s got this structured to change & flux as it plays, which makes space for the electric guitar solos like you’ll hear from Dragan Stanic on “Air And Water,” in addition to a handful of other cuts, which we’ll get to as we go through this set – rest assured, he becomes an essential ingredient to the success of this album. He puts in a stunning first reveal when he lets loose on the way into the fourth minute of this opening track. Love the harmonic tones that creep their way into this tune…the vocals are magnificent…the whole demeanor of this song has remarkably enticing qualities to it, beckoning you in to listen further.
Ohhhh man…that’s the icing on the cake right there is what that is…once you get to the 5:20-ish spot of “Gravity” and Galliano adds that final decisive twist with the most subtle-but-impactful sound, you’ll know what I mean once you hear it for yourself. At seven-minutes in length, there’s no doubt he’s traveled a long distance to get to that spot, but I can promise ya you’ll find much to be enjoyed along the way on the journey to get there. Tracks like “Gravity” are marvelously hybrid…I can hear everything from chilled-out current Electro vibes to the influence of Post-Punk sound from as far back as the 80s/90s that form the core of a melody like this – like it really ain’t all that far removed from some of what you’d find in the music of a band like The Cure at times, but updated, you dig? Absolutely loving this track from Sommavilla…and in many ways, I felt like “Gravity” went on to retain its status as one of the strongest cuts you’ll find in the entire lineup of An Ethereal Landscape…the way this song opens up and this sonic story unfolds is perfectly played in my opinion. Like chapters of sound, you’ll find something new to experience all throughout this track as it continues…sometimes it’s the thickness of the bass-lines you’ll notice, sometimes it’ll be an element of the atmospheric sound in behind that’ll only last for a moment before being replaced by something else that you’ll love – and more often than not, it’ll be the main hooks of the melody that Galliano has expertly crafted here – “Gravity” delivers. Tons of emotional weight to this tune that’s remarkable…and again, that 5:20-ish spot is the chef’s kiss.
In terms of accessibility & the ol’ ears of the everyday music-listeners out there, the title-track is quite likely to be right on the money for most…it’s got an uplifting beat & energy to it that immediately seems to brighten up this record in the right direction as it lets a bit more light into the lineup. Am I more partial to the first two cuts personally? Yes – but that doesn’t at all mean I’m not enjoying what I found here too – we’re just talking about wildly different vibes at the end of the day. Plus, like all-things-Galliano, you’ll find the structure will change and drift into amazing moments & parts that absolutely do connect universally & become all-out irresistible, like the highlight guitar solo from our homeboy Dragan showing up in the spotlight to take control of the song’s latter half once again. While there are seven cuts in this lineup that fit within its cohesiveness impeccably, there are two tracks that seem to sit even more proudly right on the fringe that this album probably wouldn’t be complete without, different as they are…”An Ethereal Landscape” is one of’em, the other is “Tribe” way down in the set list at number eight. They both still fit, don’t get me wrong – the more you spin through the album, the more you’ll appreciate both contributions and how they diversify the sound of An Ethereal Landscape overall; I’m personally more partial to Galliano’s more downtrodden or melancholic melodies with that tiny spark of hope in the mix, but I’m certainly not gonna refuse another helping of what simply sounds good too – and this is that. “An Ethereal Landscape” expertly excavates its exploratory vibes & supplies real groove.
Tracks like “Pulse” should immediately grab your attention, regardless of whether or not you feel like it passes muster or doesn’t by the end – it’s built on sound that’s designed to catch your attention, and you’ll hear all kinds of spectacular production on this cut that assists that process flowing from the lefts to the rights. Here, you’ll find an artist like Galliano becomes a close cousin to sounds like you’d hear in Massive Attack – which hellz yeah, I’m always up for something that’ll remind me of that amazing band. Think of something akin to their massive hit “Teardrop,” just played with more energy, tension, & drama in the mix, and you’ll get something close to what you’ll find here. Or better yet, skip all my theories & even your own, and just listen to the stellar selection of sound & innovative ideas Galliano’s put in here. In a way, I get it – there’s an argument to be made that a track like “Pulse” is actually even more on the fringe than I’ve already cited songs like “An Ethereal Landscape” and “Tribe” to be – but I’ve also reconciled that by tellin’ ya that spinning through this record several times is what really makes the difference. A song like “Pulse” can’t help but stand out for its uniqueness in this lineup right off the drop – but when you really get into An Ethereal Landscape, you’ll find it’s rooted in adventurous ideas and innovative music, subtle as it often may appear. “Pulse” is focused more on vibrant & dynamic sound that stands out by nature, just as much as the design of the writing & melody do…so it kind of becomes this odd double-threat that can’t lose when it comes to grabbing the attention of listeners out there. It’s got a more deviant artistic thread to its whole vibe, and doesn’t seem to really concern itself with going too hard in the direction of outright accessible sound…this is how Sommavilla blurs that line between music & art and fuses them as one together. Pass or fail for ya, a track like “Pulse” is highly interesting.
“A Chilled Sunny Day” will certainly go down as one of the friendliest, most welcoming & inviting tunes that I’ve heard this year without question…the first impression you get from this song guarantees it’ll get listened to from start to finish. Ed Krzyzaniak comes in with essential contributions through both an electric AND synth guitar…and you can really feel the warmth in the tones that you’ll hear come outta his instrumentation. Closer to the Four Tet style of design here with its playful melody & structure, sparkling sound & engaging vibes…”A Chilled Sunny Day” is one of those pleasant tunes you stumble across every so often that you’d never think to turn off…a song like this is every bit as welcoming as its created to be, and its uplifting demeanor is definitely going to attract a whole lotta people out there. Hearing this song hit its ultimate stride at its most involved at around the 5:30-ish mark when everything all comes together for the finale was nothing short of remarkable – the adventure has been a beautiful experience to begin with, but the final ninety seconds or so of this particular track turns this into a real highlight on the album altogether. Supreme sunshine in the mix right off the bat when it comes right down to it…the bendy guitar-loops sound brilliantly pleasing, and the warm glow of the atmosphere that Galliano’s designed around it all has this whole track retaining its gloriously sweet essence at all times. From the moment that Ed’s guitars really start to get their own moment in the spotlight, you can really feel how everything is coming together, falling naturally into place right where you’d wanna hear it; they got the most out of the spectacular beauty to be explored within this song and turned this melody into an undeniable gem. With the added sincerity & endearing sound at work, there’s no doubt that “A Chilled Sunny Day” will make for a strong candidate to lobby for your ear-time – and it fully deserves it.
What I really love though…are moments in time like what you’ll find instantly on display on “Let’s See What Tomorrow Brings” – and hopefully, you’ll experience it just like I did at first, without even knowing the title. When this song came on, the first thoughts that flashed across my mind were, “what a hopeful & endearing sound” – and then in turning to look at the title, you see that “Let’s See What Tomorrow Brings” is right on target. While I don’t think it’s the length of time that’s a factor in my overall assessment of this track, it’s still a possibility – to me, it’s the melody & sincerity to be found in the music here that makes all the difference, though it’s notable that “Let’s See What Tomorrow Brings” is the shortest cut on this record by a fair margin. Is it my favorite of the set? It very well could be. I ain’t lyin’ to ya – it’s honestly hard to say…Galliano does so many things so very, very well…but I’ll fully admit that every time I circled back to “Let’s See What Tomorrow Brings” it felt like the whole moment flew by so quickly at its mellow pace with such sparklingly sweet sound…I just wanted this track to stay a little bit longer every time, no matter how many times I spun through the lineup on An Ethereal Landscape. That’s not a complaint or even a suggestion; it’s just a straight-up genuine, good ol’ honest compliment.
At nearly nine-minutes in length, “White Light” is the longest track you’ll find on the record by at least a minute – but another stellar example of how Galliano is capable of creating immaculately chilled-out vibes that flex more than enough dimensions in sound to keep you fully engaged & listening intently at all times. I have no idea where he’s found all the wonderful vocal samples he’s been using throughout the record, but he’s definitely latched right onto something really special there – and in terms of the ethereal vibes the album title promises to deliver ya, those vocals are outright essential in every way. “White Light” makes spectacular use of his jazzy-electro inclinations, both through the most mellow moments with his keys, and also through the design of the beat at the core of this track as well. Whether he’s in a slower gear or a quicker one doesn’t seem to matter – Sommavilla puts in a mesmerizing performance throughout this whole track from the background action to the lead, and you’ll find “White Light” is absolutely filled to the brim with what you wanna hear, even at its most spare moments. For a track of this magnitude & size, it’s more than impressive to hear how tight & right this whole cut truly is…it’s one of those spellbinding Sommavilla moments where everything falls into place & you come out feeling 100% satisfied at the very least. As a result, you’ll likely find that “White Light” probably felt closer to a four-minute experience rather than a song that’s actually more than twice that length. One of Galliano’s more mesmerizing & hypnotic tunes in that regard…you glide along with “White Light” and have no problems whatsoever slipping right outta your world and into his whole realm of sound & style…the impeccable smoothness in sound here leads to all-out relaxing & comforting vibes that you’ll wanna wrap yourself in entirely – with nearly nine-minutes to invest in this experience, you’ll find you have no problemo at all staying warm inside this gentle gem and keeping the cold out.
It’s really a highly cohesive set…I suppose that’s what had me going down the path of tracking down Breathe earlier on at the beginning of this review, because there are definitely comparisons to be made in that regard…hearing how focused Galliano can be at his finest is really something to behold, and a lineup like you’ll find on An Ethereal Landscape is definitely a testament to how dialed-in he can truly get. “The Tribe” was about the closest I ever came to questioning whether or not it fully fit the lineup…but I’ll be real with ya, that lasted all of like, maybe twenty seconds at most before I was like, ‘nope – this fits just as much as the rest does without a doubt,’ just like I’d experienced earlier with the title track, and a little bit of “Pulse” as well. But at that point, you have to acknowledge that a third of this record is spent on the fringe, and fully accept & appreciate that as part of the intended design. Once you do that, you start to open up more quickly to ideas that once felt more on the outside of the theme, and realize how integral they were all along. You’ll also find the third of the three featured players on this album show up here – Sommavilla apparently has a rolodex filled with the names of amazing guitarists he can call upon at any time – must be NICE! I’ve always said that talent attracts talent – and every collaborative cut you’ll hear on An Ethereal Landscape will prove that to be the truth – Joey Amenta shows up to lay out a stellar solo into the latter half of this track. If there’s a universal comment to be made or insight to be had, it’s that you’ll find each guitarist that shows up is used within the song in a similar way – but thanks to the fact that they’ve all got their own distinct way of playing, each experience still feels remarkably different & new as a result. Oddly enough, if you’re really listening here to how everything builds up with such enormously subtle intensity…you’ll find there’s actually a stunning relationship to Progressive music, right up to & including a bands like Pink Floyd or Tool music at their most chilled-out, inventively rhythmic & atmospheric…“The Tribe” would be another close cousin – and that fact in itself is a huge asset when considering how far a song like this could travel & potentially reach. So much of what lies on the fringe of our signature sound & style is where the real creativity lives & passion for the craft gets revealed most…a track like “The Tribe” is 100% proof of that.
“Tumble” is the exact kind of track you wanna hear at the end of a set like this one…it’s like an audible summary of all the awesomeness we’ve experienced along the way rolled together for the finale. Great energy here…a solid combination of the mystery, melody, and ethereal aura this album has contained along the way, with more punch & drama added into the sound to really bring that conclusive feeling to the very end of An Ethereal Landscape. With its livelier beat and the curiosity-inducing vibes, the incredible final appearance from Dragan to bookend his work on this record, and the sheer selection of sound that flows throughout “Tumble” – you’ll find it’s a meaty tune filled with plenty for your ears to chew on. It moves, it grooves, yes – but it’s also got real layers of depth to the overall sound that go well beyond the catchiness you’ll find & ends up creating a more involved atmosphere that keeps you fully in suspense, just as much as entertained. More incredible work with the harmonics to be found shimmering in the mix here, and I mean, in general, when we’re talking about character inside of a song or a sound, this is a perfect example of what is really meant by such a comment – “Tumble” has so much character, it’s filled right to the brim with expert precision. It’s also an excellent cut to have come after “The Tribe” as well, which kind of retroactively justifies its inclusion to this set even more in how “Tumble” becomes a logical complement to the sound we heard in the song just prior. Combined with its catchy beat & mesmerizing hypnotic collage of spectacular rhythms & melodic atmosphere…those guitar notes soaring into the mix, and the remarkable fluidity to be found in this final track as Galliano finishes off An Ethereal Landscape with one last dose of serious musicianship & stellar sound…you gotta hand it to this man…he certainly knows how to put a full album together in a way that gives you plenty to contemplate & consider while you’re being entertained. All-in-all, he’s got a really great record here.
Find out more about Galliano Sommavilla from his official website at: https://www.galliano.com.au
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