As Nosound prepare to release their sixth studio album, the band has re-invented its sound for Allow Yourself. Now relocated to England, band leader Giancarlo Erra is a little apprehensive about how the new album will be received by fans and critics. He need not worry. Although the sound is different it has, to my ears, been enhanced.
I hear similarities between this new music and that previously produced by fellow Kscope artists The Pineapple Thief. There are also continuing similarities to the music of NoMan and Tim Bowness. On Allow Yourself Nosound take their trademark sound, which I call ‘experiential’ music, and add to it. The concept, for me, is that the sounds you hear are actually emotions and feelings expressed in music, each note and instrument representing a different emotional component. Concentrate on the feelings being expressed, not so much the sounds; the words, instruments, noises, orchestration, and rhythms are a product of the emotions being displayed via the music. If you are able to do that you will gain more from listening to Nosound’s work. The music is wonderful, but it’s the expression of emotion that is the key bonus when listening to Nosound.
On Ego Drip, the lyrics are blunt, and I think specific. Giancarlo Erra sings, “Only a fool can like you. Only a fool just like you. Only a fool can like you. Something unknown. that breaks through. A new point of view. That breaks you”. I know a few people he might be talking about… and one of them may live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, in Washington, DC. The charging bass, keys, electric guitar and pumping drums feel like a fast-paced heartbeat, after the slow keyboard opening. I like the new sound already. Erra closes the song almost gasping. Nice touch.
Shelter opens with solo drums as the hum of soft keyboards fill the soundscape, then Erra sings, “I swear I’ll find you sailing your way. I won’t stop till you’re safe inside. I won’t sleep till you’re safe inside. I can’t live in the shadow of your grace. I can’t live in the memory of these days”. Emotions expressed and delivered with a sincere and caring voice. The background effects are spacey and dreamy at the same time, as if the idea for the song came from a deep REM sleep.
Soft Beatles, dream-like electric keys open Don’t You Dare before heavy muffled drums rock the soundscape. Erra sings, “Only half true before I knew. Can’t get through. You are the taste in my mouth You are the colors all around. You are the one to play the part”. Brighter emotions expressed with softer instrumentation, cool keys building ambient and dreamy textures before electric guitars, muffled keys, bass and heavy strings deepen the mood. Erra sings, “Don’t be afraid, don’t escape, don’t you dare”, almost sounding like Ray Davies at times. A beautiful and deep plea.
My Drug is one of my favourite tracks, it has that grinding electric guitar sound soaring in the background that takes me back to my favourite Nosound song, From Silence to Noise. Erra sings, “Numb and blind. Your laugh is my drug”. Deep strings and Lamb Lies Down on Broadway-like piano dance in the background, while Erra almost screams the emotional lyrics. Yes, enough emotion to fill a music hall.
Miracle opens with soft eerie synths, then keys that help set the stage. Flute-like keys or guitar and deep strings welcome and surround Erra as he sings, “Oh what have you done. Sorrow lingers. Life ran, nothing left undone. All the time you won. You don’t need anyone now. I know you’re the miracle just begun”, then soft patted drums join the soundscape.
The words “You took me by surprise. The light through the open blinds. Waking up in front of your eyes. I can see the other side” open This Night, a wonderful love song. Later Erra echoes his lyrics, like something from Pink Floyd’s Animals… like magic; another of my favourite tracks on the album. The powerful, march-like drumming brings this song to a majestic climax.
At Peace is an incredibly deep emotional lament, Erra singing with passion to light keys and soft strings, “I feel hollow. I’m at peace now. I feel light. As you fade away”. Later, celebratory drums, electric guitar, and bells enter to provide proper tribute.
Growing in Me is another favourite, opening with soft piano and quiet keys. Then, Erra’s voice shatters the ‘grey’, as it rises in honour as he sings, “We share our wounds to heal. We shared all the air we could breathe”. An amazing statement sung with deep conviction.
Savior is the most powerful statement on this album, full of emotions and passion. Erra sings with humility, “If I fall down. When I fall down. You come through. If I go down. When I go down. You come through. And you save me. And you heal me. Will you help me? Will you love me?”, a wall of piano and deep bass strings behind him, setting a sedate and serious mood. Perfect.
Weights is the longest track, and only just over 5 minutes. Something has definitely changed for this band. The tracks on Allow Yourself are an anomaly as in the past Nosound have been one of the leaders of the epic, long track in progressive rock. This track does have the most orchestration and instrumental highlights; electric guitar, bass, keys and drums all fill the soundscape to give the album its most potent musical performance, Erra singing, “I promise you. I’ll remember, I owe to you. I’ll not forget. I’ll wait for you. To let you go. It’s what you say. That carries me over the sea”.
Defy closes the album with memorable lyrics set to cool, unique keys: “Defy it. Define it. Never let it go. Never let it grow. Don’t try. Don’t lie. Keep your feeling low. Does it really show?”, as soft piano accompanies the voice. A monumental song with hints for all of us to fulfil in our own lives.
This is a powerful and new direction for Nosound. It is an emotional plea for all of us to reconnect in the many ways discussed in the album’s lyrics, to reconnect as humans to save ourselves and the world. It is not a party or road trip album. It is a thoughtful composition which we all need right now, with all that is happening in the world. I respect Giancarlo Erra and Nosound for taking this direction and making a statement with their music at a time when it is so vital. Please buy this album and respond to the band’s call for action.
[As well as releasing Allow Yourself, 2018 will see Nosound reissue their entire back catalogue, remastered with additional unreleased tracks from the same sessions. They are also preparing a new live set to promote Allow Yourself.]
01. Ego Drip (2:33)
02. Shelter (3:53)
03. Don’t You Dare (4:00)
04. My Drug (3:22)
05. Miracle (3:54)
06. This Night (4:30)
07. At Peace (3:12)
08. Growing in Me (3:24)
09. Savior (2:46)
10. Weights (5:05)
11. Defy (2:06)
Total Time – 38:45
Giancarlo Erra – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Orazio Fabbri – Bass Guitar
Paolo Vigliarolo – Rhythm & Acoustic Guitar
Marco Berni – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Ciro Iavarone – Drums
Record Label: Kscope
Country of Origin: Italy
Date of Release: 21st September 2018