Grotta Veterano – Talbot Bells

The airborne soundscapes of Grotta Veterano’s Talbot Bells (Midira Records) produce a sedate sound, but its sky is permanently tainted. Darkened by jazzier elements, subtle scrapes and scuttles, and assorted micro-sounds, Talbot Bells exists in a changeable climate.

Those tiny tones try to emerge, coming out of their shells one at a time and glinting in the brighter, post-lockdown and post-hibernation daylight, but they’re shy and introverted by nature, and a swelling drone soon drowns them out. The record is influenced by the slow lapse of day, moving between morning and overcast afternoon and rewinding back to its cocoon of early dawn. Bells and chimes are gently tweaked and the atmosphere is an optimistic one… in the beginning, at least.

Second track ‘Colliding Tones’ shifts into darker territory, and this is where the atmosphere begins to slip; clouds are gathering, and, gradually, the day is turning. Innocence is being eroded away. Like a July day in London, grey, overcast skies are on the horizon. Notes clump together, creating a band, a shield, reducing visibility and confining the music, bringing it into areas of dense cloud. The music shifts between obdurate note-clusters and sparse clearings, but no matter the change or direction, the music’s always moving; it doesn’t pause.

Piano gently ushers in the dawn in ‘Morning Tom’, and although it remains in the low register, the slow and sleep-subdued notes are coloured in the pale-but-strengthening glow of an approaching morning. Although slow, a metronomic beat is an injection of liveliness and switches things up with a faster and more active lifestyle. Talbot Bells is able to mix it up, and that singles out its face in the crowd.

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