Galliano Sommavilla – An Instrumental Odyssey – Album Review
Time is such a strange thing.
Here I am, thinking to myself how awesome it is to have Galliano Sommavilla back up on our pages and in our speakers again, because that’s literally and audibly always been the case…but I’m thinking, what has it been – nearly a year since the last time? So I figured I’d check that out, to be sure. Turns out I’ve actually written seven previous reviews on Galliano’s music this year alone, the most recent being back in May with the release of his album An Ethereal Landscape. It’s crazy how time flies…and it’s equally crazy how it doesn’t…and it’s clearly crazy just how very much older I’m getting by the day, apparently.
As “Lost” opens the record and we drift into this first cut, Galliano’s precision and passion combined always make for a stellar impression, which is indeed the case once again. Before you reach the end of the first minute, the sparkle of his piano playing is revealed…and I’d say from about that point on forward, “Lost” finds the real magic it started out searching for. He’s a big fan of those contrasting guitar-based keyboard tones…and I can’t say I blame him…while it’s a combination he’s definitely explored in the past throughout various parts of his catalog, it’s still a highly effective one & remains so right here on this opening track. Excellent use of ambience in the mix here as well as atmospheric elements as it all begins…that slight hint of vocal-melody in the background guiding us along until the piano takes over for a bar or two before they join together and the experience expands. “Lost” is a quality cut…ultimately it gives a lot of space for the record to evolve from here on in, but as the first impression of what you’ll hear on An Instrumental Odyssey…I’m inclined to say he’s done more than enough to entice you into the rest to follow…it’s an interesting track that plays like a good story reads.
So don’t get me wrong – “Lost” is a decent start – it just so happens that the second cut makes it an even greater one. “Aurora” is pretty much flawless perfection in my opinion…Galliano’s got himself a truly gorgeous song here, filled with luscious sound, sensory textures, and an aura that’s as welcoming to the soul as it is entertaining for the ears. Sommavilla’s a really chilled-out dude when it comes right down to it…or at least, that’s the demeanor we get implied from the music he makes…but there’s a real advantage to knowing where your lane in life is. It allows you the opportunity to cruise at your own pace – “Aurora” is a perfect example of how Galliano Sommavilla isn’t consulting other music that’s been made out there already to inform how he makes his own…the man does what he does, uniquely, by his own design – I’ve always really admired that about this guy, and that also remains the case to this very day. I loved that the…I’m assuming it’s a vocal sample being manipulated or something…whatever THAT is Galliano, it’s awesome…sounds like a freakin’ theramin with the way he’s able to bend it around, which is always a welcome vibe to my ears. It’s not the dominant element of “Aurora” but it sure is one of its most standout elements…one of many, that is – from the stunning piano melody leading the way, to the smooth fluidity & serenity of this entire design…Sommavilla’s at his enchanting best right here.
Alright…maybe I’m not THAT old after all – my brain still recognizes great music when it hears it again, and I suppose in this particular vocation I’ve chosen, that’s gonna be really all that matters – the rest I can always Google if I need to. When “Watch Your Step” came on, for a moment, I thought to myself – hey…this sounds like something Galliano has done something close to before…and then seconds later I realized it was actually the same very song once I absorbed its main hooks – this was a single from one of those seven reviews I’d written on Sommavilla prior to this one right here in 2021. Stellar inclusion though – it fits right in with this record’s vibe, and it’s a fantastic song to begin with…I’m assuming I must have had the same reaction earlier to it in reviewing it back in April of this year, but I suppose the only way for any of us to know for sure is by clicking right here to see if that indeed, was the case before. I know right now I’m lovin’ it – I don’t know if that changes history or not…maybe it’s the power of familiarity that has “Watch Your Step” standing out to me on An Instrumental Odyssey, or maybe it’s just as simple as the fact that it has always been an excellent song. Listening to it now, months later on down the road…I dunno…I’d have been crazy to not have cited this as one of Galliano’s most memorable cuts when I reviewed it earlier on, so here’s to hoping I did my job as a listener correctly and labeled it as such back in April. You’ll have to read it over yourselves to know for sure – but suffice it to say, “Watch Your Step” is a genuinely remarkable song, a brilliant inclusion into this particular lineup, and quite likely a major highlight in his catalog not only now, but for years after; it has the strength & hooks to hold up.
“Flashback” is fantastic. Not only do you get a real mix of seriously interesting sounds to the ear here, but some of the main transitions, twists, and turns will lead you straight into spectacular melodies that’ll hit ya right in the heartstrings in all the right ways. Like a few of Galliano’s tunes, it’ll take a while to reveal the real core melody that will connect to you the most – and we’ll get into that a bit more in the next track to follow – but the fact is, he’s always got something special that’ll find a way to move your mind, body, or soul through the music he’s making – quite often all three at the exact same time. As “Flashback” shifts into its final minute, there’s not a doubt in my mind that Galliano’s reached peak-accessibility with the piano melody that comes in sparkling so seamlessly…and YES, I wanted a whole lot more of that moment – but as I always tell ya, I’m a greedy greedy man when it comes to the music I listen to, yes – but I’m always willing to push repeat if I gotta. Essentially, if that final minute of what I love most is all of what I get, then that’s what I gotta live with, right? It’s not like I’ve claimed the rest was anything bad – I haven’t! I’m simply saying the real gold to be found is towards the end is all. Right off the drop though, Galliano keeps this cut flexing a fluid melody & highly engaging design that’s bound to capture your interest as readily as it did mine. Spots like around the one-minute mark are really unique…it’s almost like you can hear a layer of melody that wants to break through but it can’t just yet – a tiny hint or clue of what’s to come, and the results your seeking out will get revealed to you more & more as “Flashback” plays on. Great ideas on display here Galliano…truly…it might be that final switch that adds the icing to this audible cake you’ve got goin’ on, but it’s been real tasty all the way through.
Sliding into the beat of “The Anointed One,” I think you gotta start to admire the great title on this record and how apt it’s become over the course of this lineup. An Instrumental Odyssey, this has most certainly been, and tracks like this one are a large part of the reason as to why that is. Ultimately, they all play a fairly significant role in that respect, but by this point on the record, you’ve reached the halfway mark, and Galliano has provided ya with a significant amount of sonic diversity & smooth grooves. Between the bass-lines and the beat of this cut, he’s pretty much already secured a victory – from there, he’s simply adding cherry after cherry on top. Much like I felt about the end of “Flashback,” I feel the same somewhat about the structure of “The Anointed One” – don’t get me wrong, I’m all about saving a few fireworks for the end & creating that finale…that’s always a good move – but if I’m being entirely honest with ya, I do have moments with Galliano’s music where it feels like he’s leavin’ a little on the table still, you feel me? Like some of the most quality melodies, moments, and memorable hooks can be just tiny fragments of his songs sometimes…and I think the ability to recognize what those are, potentially draw them out a bit more, and lace them into his songs even earlier on, might be to his benefit overall. What I do like is the heightened sense of adventurism that comes along with “The Anointed One” – and I love the way this cut spreads out as it ticks past that second minute as well – there’s a great exploration of sound & space on this particular cut that makes it extremely enticing to listen to. Much credit to the design of the beat on “The Anointed One” as well – it catches the ear for sure. Are the melodic fireworks saved for that final minute once again? Arguably yes. The jazzy keys this guy adds into the mix are worth the price of admission on their own – I could sit and listen to a full album of Sommavilla noodlin’ like this on the keyboards any damn day of the week & twice on Sundays.
“Always Dreaming” is a good tune…let’s just get that out there to start. I don’t know if it quite measures up to the degree of accessibility you find in the rest of these tracks by comparison…but that’s about the most you’ll find me conceding to ya. I think by this point in the record, hopefully you’ve strapped in for An Instrumental Odyssey and committed to the entire ride through it – assuming that’s the case, you should enjoy the fact that “Always Dreaming” will make a few shifts in unexpected directions & provides a bit more of an exploratory vibe overall. Is it going to be the go-to cut from this record that thrives as the people’s favorite? Hey…you never know, it might – maybe I’m the one that’s hearing more in the surrounding tunes than in this particular one here, and I’m alone in thinking the rest outshine it by just a degree or two. Crucial degrees, but a separation all the same. I really, really like the vocal samples threaded into the most intense moment of this cut…and personally for me, such a distinct & wild shift into a whole other realm of sound, which is basically what that moment becomes, is right up my alley. There’s real creativity on display between the layers of the music in that spot that you don’t find in any other track, not on this record, or the ones made by others…it’s like a breakdown that takes you right into the mud of Electro-based sound, sputtering and spinning its wheels, while also introducing you to just how complementary the vocal samples can become in the most bizarre of settings. Galliano knows what I’m talking about here…it’s somewhere just past the first minute…a transition that morphs this cut brilliantly into its next chapter, and makes a genuinely noticeable break in between its two main halves.
“Love Cry” is a solid example of a song that’ll stand out at first, yet still find ways for you to grow even more attached to over time. I think there’s a great chance this becomes a real fan favorite in that regard – it’s got a very…Massive Attack-esque acoustic rhythm guiding it that’s essentially an award-worthy hook your ears couldn’t miss. Think along the lines of something like “Teardrop,” but with a more aggressive approach to it. Nothing too crazy of course – this is still the maestro of keepin’ it chill at the end of the day – but you’ll get what I mean when you hear the song I’m sure; the ideas are similar to a degree in terms of what to use & how to use it, but entirely different approaches to the sound & vibe overall. Ain’t nothing better than using a comparison you have to completely explain – makes sense, right folks? I’m horrible at saying what I mean in writing…strange career I’ve chosen for myself wouldn’t you say? Anyhow. It’s probably fair to say that “Love Cry” has a bit more of a gradual build than some of the others…I think elements of the song itself will stand out before the entire song overall, you feel me? But trust me, it doesn’t take more than a couple spins to really appreciate how stoically this track has been put together and the precision with which it’s played. Galliano ain’t in a hurry here, and nor should he be – he’s made the right moves on “Love Cry” and spread this one out perfectly through its length to keep its hold on you a permanent from the start to finish – it’s another extremely strong cut.
Continuing on his sonic adventure, Galliano ventures into the depths of “The Long Road Ahead” as An Instrumental Odyssey plays on. The man deserves a lot of credit for not only the songs he creates & has made throughout his career…I think anyone listening to his material would instantly come out with a full understanding of just how made of music he really is…but when it comes to his ear for sound as a producer as well, he’s at the very least, equally talented in that department. “The Long Road Ahead” is ultimately mixed & mastered just as stellar as the rest are, but with the degree of range between the low-end sounds and the highest tones you’ll find in this song, you really feel that depth & detail in the music. Fantastic moves being made with the bass-lines on this cut, but equally mesmerizing ones being applied to the enchanting atmospheric elements on the surface as well…I’d suspect that “The Long Road Ahead” would end up being a major hit with most of Sommavilla’s fans out there – I’d have no problem putting this right up there with some of the best I’ve heard. Considering this is the longest track on the record, that speaks volumes on behalf of what the man can accomplish with the extra length…I never once felt bored in listening to “The Long Road Ahead” despite the added time, it only increased the pull towards the hypnotic & exploratory combination he’s rockin’ with such spirited sound & expressionism.
“Drinks, Anyone?” Sure Galliano, don’t mind if I do! Lemme just pull up a chair to the bar here… I’ll be real with ya…Sommavilla’s music always sounds so much classy to me that I feel like anywhere it’d be played in public would not be a place that would let a bearded ruffian like me anywhere near it, let alone sit down inside…you know, dress codes & all…but I can still stand by the front door and listen to the music float through as it opens & closes and I figure they can’t really stop me from doing that. I’m such a fan of the way this man plays his piano, that basically any time where that instrument or keyboard sound becomes the feature element, I’m bound to be paying my full attention – and he earns it here with his sensational performance on one of the album’s most understated tunes. “Drinks, Anyone?” takes Galliano’s naturally chilled-out state and reveals how gripping it can truly be…it’s not a song that’s going to punch you in the face for your attention with intensity roaring from the lefts to the rights – it’s the kind of cut that actually wanders curiously in a specific direction, allowing us to gently go right along with it and latch onto the combination of innovative, jazz-inspired vibes he’s working with.
All chiller, no filler – Galliano glides to the end of another tightly conceived record that sounds focused in all the right places, and provides ya with exactly what its title implies. “The Scheme Of Things” makes solid use of harmonics, vocal-samples, and bold acoustics to leave that final impression on ya, which I’d imagine is a favorable one at this point, if you’re still hanging out to track ten of his brand-new record. If anything, I might have put this cut in a different spot earlier on in the lineup…personally I think he might have had his real ending with “Drinks, Anyone?” – but so what? “The Scheme Of Things” is still another high quality cut, and at the end of the day, in this modern era of everyone building their own playlists & such, really, that’s all that matters. I’m looking at it like this…”Drinks, Anyone?” has that conclusiveness to it & different direction in sound that feels like we’ve come to a final chapter – whereas something like “The Scheme Of Things” somewhat dives into similar ideas on songs we’ve been experiencing on this record so far, and has a more upbeat vibe at its core that feels like Galliano is gonna start this ride up all over again for another ten songs. That make any sense to anybody? Like I said, there ain’t nothing wrong with that…heck, maybe that’s exactly what’ll get you reaching to repeat the entire experience, and if it is, then right on! There’s no real point in getting too bent outta shape over which song should go where & whatnot for the most part…people tend to handle that on their own these days anyway. Which is still weird, yes…and a privilege & power we likely shouldn’t have…the artists & bands we listen to labor over the design & layout of their records & we should genuinely all respect that as best we can. Galliano’s put together another exceptional experience from start to finish, one way or another, no matter how you end up playing it on your end of things…the important thing is that on his end, he’s kept it as tight as ever, and put forth a real quality record that delivers on exactly what he intended it to.
An Instrumental Odyssey, it most assuredly is. Enjoy.
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