Galliano Sommavilla – Take A Deep Breath…And Chill! – Album Review
The man’s had just a bit of a busy year.
Let’s be real here. While it’s fair to say that Galliano Sommavilla has a whole bunch of past material to draw from, and an improvisational style that could also end up producing a record easily in a day with plenty of time to spare – in the world according to the internet, this cat has STILL put out twenty three records – this YEAR. Take A Deep Breath…And Chill! isn’t even the most recent one! I tell ya…that’s about as busy as an artist can be I’d imagine…2021 is quite likely to end up as the most productive year in Sommavilla’s career when he looks back on it all, years down the road from the rocking chair on his porch in the bliss of retirement, knowing he’s supplied the entire planet with a soundtrack for the rest of time. Your music will last much longer than we will good friend, rest assured. For real though – this is all a huge accomplishment, and obviously something to be incredibly proud of. I just looked it up and realized I’ve put out twenty three episodes of the SBS Podcast this year…I’m barely keeping pace with my own creativity over here, and I’m hardly doing anything that requires the effort of real songwriting or the skill it takes to make the music Galliano does – this guy raises the bar for us all with his productivity.
Strike while the iron is hot my brother, and long may you run.
Galliano went the lengthy route for this new record…or new-er record…whatever ya wanna call it, we’ve already established it’d be impossible to keep up to this cat. Anyhow – he’s got nine cuts spread out over an hour-plus worth of total music for ya, with each track weighing-in around the same general length between the six & a half to nearly eight-minute mark. The effect of which, makes for a compelling and immersive experience on our end every bit as much as I’m sure it was for him in creating it all – Take A Deep Breath…And Chill! ends up revealing a wonderfully adventurous set that gives us every opportunity to really take a deep dive into the music he makes and his inherently mellow vibes. As it began with “Unspoken” – I was already massively impressed by the dramatic depth in some of the early pivotal transitions he makes in this song, like around both the 2:20 mark and the 3:20 mark not too long afterwards…we’re talking about seriously magnificent stuff that diversifies this first track brilliantly while keepin’ the whole track steady & cohesive at the same time. Bonus points for the fact that, I suppose you could argue that the real main hook of “Unspoken” actually has a significant Celtic influence to its airy melody…and I didn’t feel like I was being forced into medieval times, you feel me? There are so many times where a flute or a harp will show up in music out there, and you feel like you’re kind of being pandered to in a strange way, or that the whole vibe just seems pretentious & forced – but hearing a song like “Unspoken” is a perfect example of how to go about incorporating the influence of our music’s history, while still making it incredibly relevant for the right here & now, and having it fit into the modern era. There’s no need to bust out your lute and jam along is what I’m saying, calm down. I mean…you obviously can if you wanna, I’m just saying, the subtle electro atmosphere & infusion of the rest of the elements in the mix along the way all make a track like “Unspoken” much more belonging to the present than it does to the past, no doubt about it. No complaints from me here – I felt like “Unspoken” was a stellar start that has just as much uniqueness to it as it does comforting sound that’s guaranteed to invite people in to listen in the most welcoming of ways – it’s a catchy cut from start to finish with plenty of appeal. That part around the 3:20-3:50 mark is wildly effective – if anything, I’d have taken a second helping of that somewhere along the line, but that’s hardly any kind of complaint.
As “After Hours” begins, you know he’s onto something extremely enticing. That sound he uses at the beginning to pull you in…whatever the heck it is…is freakin’ fantastic, and basically it can’t lose when it comes to generating our interest in this second track instantly. Galliano will go on to mellow out the vast majority of “After Hours” from there forward…you only get a dose of that sound coming back once more, still well before its second-half. Again, I wanted more to a degree…like if that had showed up at the end to bookend this cut, I’d think that might have made it perfect for me – though I will say, I did still very much enjoy the colorful ending that he does put into this tune. All-in-all, I felt like everything was a remarkable fit for this song, save for probably the quick bridge around the 3:10 mark that seems to spark this cut with a bit more energy for a moment than the rest of this song contains & is a bit of an odd fit, but it’s a momentary piece of this song, and everything else you’ll hear suits it without question. Excellent patterns in the main melody glide you along through what’s genuinely an exquisite & graceful vibe that’s got just as much personality to it as it does endearing, soul-soothing sound for you to enjoy. Definitely the kind of cut you’d hope to find on a record called Take A Deep Breath…And Chill! – “After Hours” really keeps you captivated & hypnotized by the delicate sparkle of its uplifting melody – I think that one piece around the 3:10 does snap you out of that for just a moment in a way that might be a bit more jarring than anticipated or intended, but everything else surrounding it was all aces as far as my ears are concerned. I kind of ended up listening to this cut in a Part 1 & Part 2 type-sense after I had a grip on how “After Hours” was structured…I’d allow my brain to wander off into serenity and let the hamster on the wheel that runs it take a quick coffee, snap back into reality for a moment to catch the 3:10 on time, and then happily head back into the oblivion of sweet sonic bliss for the final four minutes.
“A Chilled Southern Land” worked pretty well…it’s got a bit more pep in its step and energy to it, and that’s always gonna be an advantage when it comes to the listeners out there. Galliano likes to use a whole lot of different sounds & try new things – and I dig that he’s endlessly creative in that regard, fearless enough even to attempt things like having barking dogs become part of the melody…that kind of innovative & imaginative music. Ultimately, I think the concept comes across from the crickets to the tribal chants in the distance…it’s like we’re out in the wild with Galliano in the heart of the outback where he’s based out of in good ol’ Australia – there’s quite a healthy dose of nature & natural sound in this synthetic mix he’s rockin’ with, right up to & including a full-on weather-system change in the process. It’s an interesting tune when it comes right down to it…I’m not entirely sure it’s the cut I’d always be in the mood for, but at the right time, it definitely satisfies, know what I mean? I guess what I’m saying is that both of the first two tracks are probably a bit more universal in that regard when it comes to the overall appeal & sound, but for the right moment, “A Chilled Southern Land” still stands every chance of keeping you fully engaged. Credit where credit is due, you feel like you authentically travel with Galliano somewhere wild in your mind as you listen to this track; any song that has the power to do that is always aces in my books, but they do often come along with that required mood & mindset to be willing to take the journey. Sometimes you’re gonna come home outta the 9-5 grind and just wanna chill “After Hours,” as opposed to go take an audio voyage into a full-on safari, and I get that.
That being said, maybe you’ll get home and a journey into the wild will be exactly what you need – like I said, ultimately, “A Chilled Southern Land” is a good tune, just a much more defined one – I ain’t worried about that. Where I’d advise the man a little bit of caution though, would be on “Night Sky” to follow – this track’s a bit bare bones and takes a very long time to tap into its main strengths. It becomes a weird experience when you listen, because it’s so heckin’ awesome by the end that you can’t help but exit “Night Sky” with a massively favorable opinion of it, but the reality is, you’re wandering out there in the dark for quite a while before this brightens up. My main concern here really would be that the first four minutes of this seven-minute cut, as in more than half of it, seems to just lack that same inspiration we so typically associate with Galliano’s music, even in the mellow state we so often find him in. To prove the point a bit further, it’s when we’re in those moments as artists that we generally revert to what we know works…kind of zombie-like, intuitively, without even really realizing that we’re doing it – and I think that shows up here too when you get that dramatic transition into the synth-guitar sound. Effective yes, but it’s also something we’ve heard in Sommavilla’s music at times already too…which is something to consider. We all fall into patterns if we’re not too careful, and making music around the clock is one of the best ways of ensuring that’ll happen at times…it’s the main reason many of your favorite bands don’t even put out a record for four to five years in between…time changes things, gives you new perspective & ideas, and the experiences you have along the way, of course influence the art as well. After that four-minute mark, I think Galliano’s on completely solid ground and really has a song here – the way that “Night Sky” blossoms and expands is significantly noticeable to the nth degree, and by the end, it’s practically impossible to say he doesn’t somehow end up coming out with a win here. I’m not fully sold on that he’s done quite enough in those first four minutes…mind you, it’s not like I ever ended up fast forwarding through it, so there’s obviously still enough to keep me personally engaged – but yeah…tougher to say when it comes to the masses out there – I suspect they’re looking for what they’ll find in the final three-minutes of “Night Sky” as opposed to the long journey we take to get there.
When he’s on-point, you know I’m always the first guy to stand up and cheer him on. Have a listen to the straight-up magnificence of “Another World” will ya? He’s such an extraordinarily gifted piano player, that whenever that’s a dominant trait in his music, he’s likely to stand that much more of a chance of grabbing our attention in my opinion, because his connection to that instrument is absolutely superhuman. LISTEN to the melody of “Another World” and tell me you don’t feel that deep down in your soul y’all! That’s the magic that music is made of, right there on display, crystal clear for all to hear. Not a doubt in my mind that this is one of the album’s strongest tunes, if not THE strongest. I expected the mid-song deviation or bridge in knowing Sommavilla’s tendency to add one in right where you’ll find it on “Another World” – but I felt like it still fit in really well, kept the vibe cohesive, and added in that diversity he was looking to create. In terms of accessibility though, “Another World” has pretty much what everyone out there is looking for…there’s copious amounts of tangible hooks & memorable melody, a steady & engaging beat to it, and as always, a smorgasbord of other elements in the mix that soar through the lefts & rights of your speakers and add to the colorful tapestry of sound he’s woven. There are moments in Galliano’s music where he doesn’t require a single word from me or anyone else to advocate on their behalf, and “Another World” is one of’em – this is music that speaks for itself. It’d be hard to imagine a scenario where listeners out there wouldn’t feel the same way about this track – I think the uplifting sparkle at the core of “Another World” is remarkably appealing – this cut’s a real gem.
“Echo Vibe” begins with a more mysterious & curious blend of sound, eventually slidin’ on straight into the beat around the first minute for ya. We find Galliano in a looser groove here once again overall, keeping the design of this cut a bit more fluid in how it’s played in that structural regard…and it’s another cut that’s tougher to say whether or not he’s quite done enough to keep the bulk of ya as fully engaged as you should be. We stick with “Echo Vibe” of course, knowing that it’s a Sommavilla track, and eventually that major switch or pivotal transition is likely on the way…which you start to wonder about around the 3:30 mark…and by the time you pass the fourth, you suspect it’s not actually coming at all. “Echo Vibe” is kind of a case of you get what you get, and that’s all there is to it folks. The main changes here are as subtle as they can be…and I’d wager a guess that unless you’re among the most dedicated audiophiles out there that’ll appreciate the stellar production just as much as the sound and intricate layers of the design by the end at its most full…this cut is probably a bit too bare bones at the core of its ideas and the sound it presents. Take A Deep Breath…And Chill! – yes…but we still want a bit of juice in the music we can squeeze, and “Echo Vibe” seems to leave our glasses at least half-empty. Keep in mind, I’m a bit tougher on the music of Galliano Sommavilla at this point…he’s really left me no choice in that with having heard so many of his songs – for any of the rest of you, this might even be a quality tune! All I can do personally is compare the new stuff to what I know he’s capable of & call it like I hear it – to me, “Echo Vibe” needed something more somewhere…I don’t know what, but something.
Almost like a response to that quest for the missing something, “Secret Pleasures” becomes a much more mixed bag when it comes to the length of its contents, adopting a variable style that never really seems to be quite sure of what kind of song it really wants to become. While I can’t fully guarantee it’s gonna be the easiest moment in music to stick with in music this year – that’s kind of the thing – “Secret Pleasures” is multiple moments combined into one…and you might just end up picking & choosing your favorite spots along the way as it plays on. Sommavilla has an uncanny knack of building a song when it comes right down to it – and much like the rest of anything I’ve had any kind of back & forth feelings about the full design on this record, he pulls off “Secret Pleasures” just as strongly by the end once again. It’s got a really strong beginning too as far as I’m concerned; it’s the middle that becomes a bit more sporadic & unpredictable in its many mellow twists & turns…maybe a bit too spacious at times, maybe a bit too much goin’ on at others by comparison – but still some really decent stuff to be found along the way that’s adventurous and full of sensory vibes. My advice to the man would be to look at a lot of these songs he’s writing through the Dave Grohl lens…where you write a song, get its verse & chorus down, scrap the verse, use the chorus as the verse now, and design a bigger chorus instead – that kind of thing. When you hear the heights of what Galliano ends up creating by the end of his tunes – which I’d say probably starts closer to the four-minute mark of “Secret Pleasures” all said & done – you start to wonder how these cuts might come out with a little less build, and a little more action, you dig? So don’t get me wrong…I think there is still plenty to love on the inside of this multi-dimensional sound & prismatic design he’s working with on “Secret Pleasure” – but the highlight moments are more spread out here, as opposed to continual like you find in a songs like “Another World” & “Unspoken” earlier on.
Thematically on-point, you start in a strange environment as “Weird After Party” begins to reveal its sleek sound slidin’ through your speakers. Take A Deep Breath…And Chill! – but apparently maybe be on a few pins & needles along the way as well Galliano? For real…I didn’t quite know what to make of the first two minutes, but I know when that first major transition hit, I was LOVING LIFE all over again, and madly in love with the jazzy electro jam he turns this song into. Not too far removed from the realm of something like Massive Attack, or Peace Orchestra, or Thievery Corporation here at all – “Weird After Party” has a solid mix of tension and melody to it – and it’s a genuinely compelling track once it kicks into full gear, which really doesn’t take long at all in comparison to a few of these other cuts on Galliano’s record here. All-in-all, I’m mighty inclined to say I’m all about it…I don’t even mind the opening build as much in this scenario, simply for the fact that you get such a noticeably different vibe out of “Weird After Party” from the very moment it starts – this track offers something tangibly new to Take A Deep Breath…And Chill! – I’d be more than willing to bet this song becomes another significant fan favorite when it comes to this particular lineup of tunes. Excellent use of rhythm in the percussion and electro instrumentation of the finale, but all throughout, I think a lot of listeners out there will appreciate the diversity that “Weird After Party” brings to the album overall. Another stellar example of Galliano Sommavilla’s uncanny ability to take you outta your world and into his, you take in those first two minutes with cautious trepidation…waiting…knowing that something is coming, just unsure of what it’s gonna be. Then after you trip on over the 1:50 mark, you find yourself in the middle of what’s nothing BUT purely radiant & addictive sound spillin’ out of every pore of your speakers – and Galliano maintains an excellent grip on the structure of this adventurous odyssey as it plays on, dialing it back & adding some beautiful piano melody in the slow-burn of it all before ramping it all up into the more involved layers & intricacies of the finale to follow. It’s got standout character to it from start to finish, and the value in that is always huge for us as listeners – make plans to attend this “Weird After Party” and be prepared to stick around for a while…it’s uniquely catchy, mysterious, and highly repeatable.
I kept having this nagging feeling as I listened to “Secret Garden” that I’d heard the main melody line on the piano from Galliano somewhere before…maybe there’s a piece of this tune that’s a part of his One Song improvisational series…I never did figure out if it was familiar, or just the mere effect of repeating my way through this record over the past week. In any event, “Secret Garden” wraps this album up with a comforting vibe & sparkling sound that’s highly satisfying…perhaps it just feels familiar, because the mood & atmosphere he’s created here connect so strongly. Admittedly, I think he’s got the advantage of some pretty stellar hooks to be found in this exquisite Electro-Jazz fusion he’s workin’ with – and all-around, “Secret Garden” seems to have this like…extremely classy sound to it, like…you’d be proud to bring this song home to meet your mother. Partly mythical and curious, and partly undeniably beautiful – Galliano’s got himself a strong ending to Take A Deep Breath…And Chill! that works well in his favor, and certainly achieves that final mission of inducing that craving for a repeat. “Secret Garden” felt like a very organic & natural conclusion to this versatile & adventurous set-list…it’s a song that’s designed to ease you back out into the daylight via delicate means, while going on to reveal that bold confidence & sound Galliano plays with, even in the most gentle of atmospheres. Once “Secret Garden” snaps itself into place after about a minute’s worth of ethereal intro, the accessibility increases without question as the beat kicks into gear, and Sommavilla finishes off this album with style & a substantially dreamy tune that’s definitely going to appeal to a whole lot of ears out there…it’s a quality cut, and a great one to go out on. Like so many of Galliano Sommavilla’s tunes, it makes you think just as much as it makes you feel something – “Secret Garden” was a sensationally subtle finish to a record with such a palette of colorful sound. Take A Deep Breath…And Chill! Don’t mind if I do Galliano! I might even just take two.
Find out more about the music of Galliano Sommavilla at his official website at: https://www.galliano.com.au
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