Under lockdown and in isolation, it might have seemed that the world could turn in on itself, become insular and individualistic. Somewhat paradoxically, communities unable to meet with each other, and many of whom have never interacted, have come together in ways perhaps unimaginable at the beginning of this year. I’ve never known the village I live in to be as friendly, helpful and community-spirited as it is right now. Inspired by this community spirit and by Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions, Italian uber-producer/engineer Riccardo Pasini (whose name is surely well known among fans of music of a heavier persuasion), decided to put together a Home Edition. Homme’s Sessions were always less about making music for financial gain, and more about playing with friends. So, in a period of forced inactivity, Pasini had the idea to find other musicians wanting to spend their time constructively to compose, play and spend time with – apart, but together. A Facebook post raised such an enthusiastic response that a group was formed for a virtual collective that included over 100 collaborators.
There’s no easy way to describe the music of Desert Session Home Edition’s album, Phase 1, as it hops effortlessly across and between genres. Morricone sounding Western soundscapes, ambient, industrial, trip hop, rock, goth, folk, electronica, metal and post-rock intersect and collide. As anyone who joined the Facebook group was able to make their own compositional contribution, the influences are incredibly disparate and varied. To Pasini’s credit, he has somehow taken all these contributions, and made something remarkably cohesive. Never does any track sound like the patchwork affair its bare bones might possibly reveal. Rather each is a seamless whole, and it’s an incredible trip to listen to as the album evolves, and so very enjoyable.
The composite writing of the pieces has allowed each contributor to express their feelings during lockdown and isolation, and the resulting contributions find styles, genres and musicians meeting as they perhaps never would have otherwise – in the same way our communities have. Music reflects life, and Pasini has found a way to let each have their own space, while making unexpected connections, allowing the composition of very complex and eclectic pieces where the characters of the musicians merge in carthartic expression. It’s not always an easy listen, but it’s always enjoyable, and for such a lengthy release (running for approximately an hour and a half over its nine tracks), that’s no mean feat in itself. The eclecticism and variation no doubt help maintain interest, but even that alone would not be sufficient if the material was not of constant quality.
Every track presents different moods and styles, and with most being around ten minutes or more there is ample opportunity to make stylistic changes in a fluid and unforced fashion. Overall, I guess, a heavier tone predominates, but never overwhelming any other style. And never is any instrument lost in the mix. The production is top notch! It is hard to express just how impressed I am by how Pasini has put together the exceptional amount of material, so that the completed jigsaw picture shows absolutely no joins, without resorting to hyperbole. This is one of the greatest albums released so far this year, and it was created by musicians who just wanted to connect and play. Not one of these musicians have participated for any gain, other than a way to escape their isolation, and to be creative, and it’s worth noting that all proceeds from any sales go to the Italian Red Cross.
The best news? Riccardo Pasini announced on 6th May that Phase 2 is about to begin…..
01. Quarantine (13:53)
02. Distorta Dimensione (10:23)
03. From Soul to Bones (5:33)
04. Spleen Milieu (13:22)
05. L’Invenzione (9:12)
06. La Distanza Nel Silenzio (11:20)
07. Branchie/Il Bacio (9:16)
08. L’Istinto (5:20)
09. In Solitude (13:29)
Total Time – 91:48
Emilio Albertoni, Andrea Allodoli, Agnese Alteri, Samuele Anconelli, Mohammed Ashraf, Enrico Baraldi, Max Barbieri, Luca Bartolini, Matteo Bassoli, Nicola Benetti, Mattia Bertolassi, Valerio Biagini, Gabriele Bombardini, Filippo Bravi, Peter Cadonici, Caterina Cardinali, Andrea Carella, Andrea Carletti, Eric Castiglia, Simone Cattani, Matteo Cavaciocchi, Francesco Fresco Cellini, Valentina Cicognani, Gianmarco Ciotti, Fausto Civenni, Mauro Chiulli, Mauro Crescini, Alessandro De Lorenzi, Elena Ferragotto, Cristina Ferretti, Andrea Fioravanti, Giacomo Gastaldi, Luca Gelmini, Angelo Girardello, Giovanni Grandi, Andrea Grasso, Stefano Gritti, Michey Grug, Stefano Iori, Tatiana Lassandro, Carlo Leone, Daniele Lipparini, Gianluca Lo Presti, Michele Marchiani, Filippo Martignano, Francesca Viola Mazzoni, Giacomo Mazzu, Gruno Balli, Daniele Medici, Franco Naddei, Michelangelo Naldini, Emanuele Nanni, Andrea Napolitano, Ignazio Nistic, Luca Pansera, Andrea Para, Francesco Maria Pasi, Luca Pasini, Riccardo Pasini, Stefano Penazzi, Daniele Pollio, Mauro Pulga, Silvia Raggetti, Massimiliano Rassu, Francesco Ronchi, Adolfo Rosolia, Diego Ruggeri, Mario Sabadelli, Paolo Sanchi, Alex Semprini, Andrea Solimene, Ronny Taccola, Cristiano Tommasini, Emilio Torreggiani, Alessandro Trere, Gian Maria Vannoni, Andrea Vasumini, Matteo Virga, Niccolò Maria Zanzi
Record Label – Independent
Country of Origin – Italy
Date of Release – 27th April 2020