Andrea Fioravanti and Mohammed Ashraf have definitely kept themselves busy during lockdown. Since the latest Postvorta album, Porrima, was released in February, they’ve both contributed to Riccardo Pasini’s Desert Sessions Home Edition, and Mohammed has released his latest Pie Are Squared offering as part of whitelabrec.’s Home Diaries series. The pair have now unveiled a real treat with Postvorta’s second album of the year. Andrea does point out that there was some thought about whether to give the Postvorta name to this album, but I definitely think it is appropriate. While some might complain that only two of the six who make up Postvorta perform on this album (although a third, Raffaele Marra, is credited with providing additional bass), and that without harsh vocals or riffs it’s too different, the truth is there are far more similarities than one might initially expect.
In my review of Porrima, I mentioned that beneath the bluster reminiscent of bands such as Cult of Luna or Callisto, I found myself hearing sounds that reminded me of bands like Radiohead, Oceansize, Sigur Rós, and Ulver. So I really don’t find this new offering under the Postvorta name to be as far removed as might be expected, as all the elements I heard that made me think of those other bands are present here, too. I also noted that the last three minutes of the album were also the first wholly beautiful of the album, and reminiscent of Mogwai. Again, I’m at times reminded of that band on this album, and in a way, those final minutes could conceivably be thought of as foreshadowing the beauty of this album. Furthermore, possible musical foreshadowing notwithstanding, the title reads almost like a natural followup. After a trilogy concerning birth, life and death, what could follow more naturally than something heavenly? I admit to not knowing what the band mean by the title Siderael, but the spelling is so close to sidereal that it seems unlikely to be accidental. And this album is, indeed, sidereal.
Heavenly, also, are the vocals of Agnese Alteri, who I’d never heard of until she appeared in the list of collaborators of the Desert Sessions Home Edition. And although they fit perfectly with the more subdued music of Siderael, Pt. One, I’d love to hear them in the context of a more “normal” sounding Postvorta album. The presence of Ottone Pesante’s Francesco Bucci and Paolo Raineri, on trombone and trumpet, really lifts this song and makes it something pretty special. It is also a prime example of how this music doesn’t feel that different for me, than that on Porrima, whereupon I make the same comparisons with the same bands as I did on Porrima. Through 4k Lenses has a very Oceansize feel to it, for example. I found myself reminded of the Music for Nurses EP, which often has a similar minimalist and almost ambient vibe.
The second and third tracks, definitely have a more electronic bent. Both are very good, but not up to the standard of the opening number – though to be fair, that is a very hard act to follow, and most songs might sound a little underwhelming coming after Through 4k Lenses. Nevertheless, Viper is pretty nifty and catchy, and Spoon, though I find it a little claustrophobic for the first two minutes, opens up and becomes more expansive, and is actually very beautiful. Ultimately, though, I find neither of these two tracks as fulfilling as the other four. I still like them very much, but they don’t seem to fit so well. I think it’s possibly more that I’m aware I’m listening to a Postvorta album, and I can’t reconcile the sound of these two tracks so easily with the more typical Postvorta sound than I can do with the others. I have definitely found that I’ve enjoyed these two songs far more on repeated listens, and they no longer stick out so much as not belonging, but I can’t help wondering if this is down to familiarity after so many repeated listens.
I can say, however, that Lunar absolutely blows away the previous two tracks. It’s a fantastic number, and one that absolutely sounds like Postvorta – so much so, that it is incredibly easy to imagine it as such. And with the following Fog and Concrete, the album actually approaches some real heaviness. This is a real banger, and feels quite malevolent at times. The haunting nature of Agnese Alteri’s vocals merely add to the sense of unease. I mentioned Oceansize earlier, and I think it’s worth pointing out that members of Oceansize have mentioned bands such as Mogwai, Radiohead, Aphex Twin and Autechre being influences. I’ve already said I heard the first two in Posrvorta’s music in both Porrima and Siderael, Pt. One, but on this album I definitely also hear Aphex Twin and Autechre too, and this is one track where they really come to mind. I do need to point out, however, that I’m not suggesting that Postvorta ever sound like these bands, or even that they are influences of the band – merely that I am reminded of them.
The album closes with More Than 10.000 which is unbelievably beautiful. I made the observation in my review of Porrima, that much of the magnificence of that album came from Postvorta’s mastery of dynamics. Given there is less distance between the lightest and heaviest moments on Siderael, Pt. One, you might expect the dynamics to not be quite so impressive, but Postvorta are still masters of this, creating quite glorious and gorgeous atmospheres and soundscapes. The way More Than 10.000 follows Fog and Concrete gives incredible impact to a quite understated and unassuming song. It ends the album as perfectly as Through 4k Lenses began it, bookending Siderael, Pt. One as effectively as the sound of waves did Porrima.
In my review of Porrima, I queried how Postvorta could possibly follow it. It was such an amazing album, it was always going to take something very special not to be judged in its shadow. That, more than anything else, might be as good a reason as any for Siderael, Pt. One to be released under the Postvorta name. But it still sounds like Postvorta to me, and that’s a better reason than any other. What’s more, it not only stands up well against Porrima, but it feels like a natural progression from that album. And even better, it’s title implies further travels down this road. I doubt I will be alone among Postvorta fans in looking forward to Part Two.
One final note. This release, like Desert Sessions Home Edition before it, is ‘Name Your Price’ on BandCamp, with all proceeds being donated to the Red Cross, so whatever you are willing to pay for the album is going to a good cause.
01. Through 4k Lenses (7:22)
02. Viper (8:09)
03. Spoon (5:59)
04. Lunar (8:13)
05. Fog And Concrete (7:16)
06. More Than 10.000 (5:43)
Total Time – 42:42
Andrea Fioravanti – All Instruments, Programming, Recording
Mohammed Ashraf – All Instruments, Programming, Recording
Agnese Alteri – Vocals
Raffaele Marra – Additional Bass
Francesco Bucci – Trombone (track 1)
Paolo Raineri – Trumpet (track 1)
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Italy
Date of Release: 14th May 2020