Banjo or Freakout – s/t
The bedroom effort of Alessio Natalizia, Banjo or Freakout has become fully realized with this debut release. With a touch of professional production, the spacey and atmospheric sounds of this group feel tangible, yet still far away in their nature. A mix of electronic and physical sounds mesh fairly well on this album, and for some of the time, the band maintains that tightrope of emptiness.
Starting out strong, the band doesn’t sound very atmospheric. On “105,” the only hollow element that is prevalent in the song would have to be Natalizia’s pale and borderline falsetto voice that intensifies the buzzing guitar. Some synthesized dulcent undertones gradually trickle into the song, and pull it away from its humble beginning into the deep void of electronic emptiness. The synth undertones meander their way to “Go Ahead,” which is one of my favorite tracks on the album. A little bit muddier than that of the first track, it really focuses on a slightly playful quality in the mumbled vocals of Mr. Natalizia. Even though it’s shift towards a more electronic style, which I’m normally inclined to disgust, it takes a step in a fulfilling direction and becomes an enticing narrative marked by effervescing synthesizer and the dull roar of fuzz.
Despite its promise at the beginning, there are some huge setbacks to this album. While it is a good start for a band like this, it is nowhere near perfection. Like other albums similar in style, the golden qualities that are presented in the beginning fizzle out, leaving the rest of the songs to sound overlookable and boring. The atmospheric levels of noise that interest and seem so intricate during the first few tracks slip easily into the recess of the listeners mind. Too simply it becomes background music that only serves for filling space, not for bedroom listening. Tracks at the very end like “Dear Me” lose the boundary between vocals and hollow sound, so that the two mold into one. The song loses its edginess and becomes just a bunch of noise that sounds thrown together with much haste.
Some may say that this album falls under the chillwave category, or at least the latter part. While it does offer a relaxing break from a stressful day, it doesn’t stimulate the senses, save the first few songs. Perhaps I stand alone in the desire for music that will push and pull me places, all while maintaining entertaining qualities. Banjo or Freakout just leaves my brain hanging alone in the cold void of outer space. With some work, their next release could be stellar, so long as they focus on what makes the start sound so good.