Music Reviews

Artist: Romain Iannone
Title: Nocturne Works
Format: Tape
Label: Oqko
“Nocturne Works” is a collection of mostly very short twisted lullabies, comprising organ-like synth noodling fed through surprisingly harsh lo-fi filters, on a bed of soft electronic ambience. The press release assertively states that “a particular bound [sic] exists between the cassette tape, the nocturne moon and the seeds of the Ipomoea alba (moonflower)”, but musically there’s nothing here that really backs that up.

There are some very pleasant moments. Longest track “Gibrilla The Woodcutter” is nicely evocative, with reedy chords and nicely counterpointing rhythms allowed to cycle round and evolve. “Lake_03” is also strong- extra time clearly brings out the best in the chord explorations. Some of the shorter tracks, such as “Petite Limace”, sound like unfinished ideas that should have either been explored further or abandoned.

There are some more innovative nuggets in there as well- “Tape Loop” is rather different, more synthwave-like with good use of the central cassette motif. The faintly cheeky “Morricone Samples”, while not sounding like the title implies, has a slightly different character.

But the processing is simply too heavy. The whole thing has been fed through a filter to make it sound more 8-bit than 16-bit and it is far too much, to the extent I had to check whether there was something wrong with the preview files. That one simple act of washing it strips it of any sonic purity and regularly grates. The drunken oscillations of tracks like “FEV_01”, as though designed to imitate tape warble before the album’s even been put onto tape, frankly don’t help either.

If the lo-fi processing and distortion had been edged back and if the pieces had been allowed to breath for more than the under-two-minutes that most of them get, then potentially this could have been a very pretty, if somewhat cliché, mellow soundscapey outing. As it is, it has too much of a half-baked demo quality to it and it somehow fails to justify its own awkwardness.

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