It’s been three years since we last heard from Italy’s Nosound. I remember reviewing “Afterthoughts” in 2013, and it went over my head a little bit at that point. Nosound is often labelled as psychedelic and is defined by many other things (including smashing words together, apparently), but the basic thing you need to know is that they are rather abstract in presentation. They do not make cookie cutter songs, and that often turns off many people, even in prog. When I received the promo for the new Nosound album, I was a little hesitant. Was this album going to pass me by, as well?
The new album is called “Scintilla”. I had to look up that word: It is defined as “a tiny trace or spark of a specified quality or feeling.” So, basically, the album is about trace feelings or emotions, and it is well-named. While the abstract trademark of the band is still here, “Scintilla” is actually more straightforward than anything I’ve heard from the band. The band gives you more to grasp and sink your teeth into this time.
The band consists of Giancarlo Erra on vocals, guitars, and keyboards; Marco Berni on keys; Alessandro Luci on bass, Paolo Vigliarolo on guitars; and Giulio Caneponi on drums. The point of the music here is not a technical, separated mix of various instruments, however. The music is generally a beautiful flow, being a rush of emotions first and foremost. So, while the album is less abstract than others before it, it is still based in feelings primarily.
It’s the little things, like the gentle keys or the winding violin, that do make this record special. “Scintilla” is full of wondrous keys, as three members play them. Guitars are generally acoustic in nature, though high-tuned electric emotions are present, too. Drums and bass both serve their abstract purpose well, and the vocals from Giancarlo are slight accented, and also totally gravy, in my opinion.
One of the general vibes I get from this album, for some reason, is this nostalgic 2000’s alt rock feeling, just without the distorted edge. I said before that Nosound is usually considered psychedelic, but this album feels more like a combination of the emotional journeys of Anathema combined with early 2000’s British alt rock, specifically a band I really like called Vex Red (I think they only had one album). This album is more straightforward, with songs that can be considered actual songs, though far from pedestrian. Songs like “Last Lunch”, “Love is Forever”, and “Evil Smile” really remind me of the alt rock vibe; with raw lyrics, catchy vocal lines, and gentle, ethereal melodies. Other tracks retain the more abstract feel, such as “In Celebration of Life”, “Sogno E Incendio”, or the title track that ends the album.
Studded through these songs, you will find wonderful cello from guest musician Marianne De Chastelaine, and it honestly makes the album in many ways. Her cello gently weaves its way into several songs, creating a genuinely comforting atmosphere, even though the lyrics are so sad and filled with angst. You’ll also find unique key tones and percussive instruments on the album, setting off songs from one another more exactly. In the past, Nosound albums have felt very long due to their abstract, ambient nature; and the tracks blurred into each other. This album is precisely paced, spaced out with traditional songs and ambient fare taking turns. Some of the tracks really get going and are even somewhat dense, which is something I really haven’t heard from this group in the past.
My favorite track is definitely “Evil Smile”, or it is at least the one that I find myself humming throughout the day. I also love “Love is Forever” with its very raw lyrics and “Last Lunch”, my initial favorite. My favorite ambient track is “In Celebration of Life”, which I’ve linked below. Every track, though, is wonderful in its own way, and it’s the first time where I feel like I can mentally separate the tracks with no issues.
Nosound’s new album “Scintilla” lives up to its name, being a wondrous flow of emotions. Unlike past albums, though, this flow of emotions does not create a blurry or unmemorable album, mainly due to the unique aspects of each track. This is the first Nosound album that I find myself really liking, so I definitely recommend it for your more emotionally-driven musical inclinations.