I would have thought previous encounters with Mike Fazio's Faith Strange projects, A Guide For Reason and orchestramaxfieldparrish would have prepared me for 'ÃlÃ©gie' and I suppose in some way they did. But with Fazio's music, you learn to expect the unexpected. The CD consists of only three tracks ' 'Il Sognatore Ã Ancora Addormentato' (Behold, This Dreamer Cometh) 19:08; 'Dopo Tre Mesi, Tutto Ã¨ Lo Stesso, Eccetto Un Piccolo Regalo, Quando Arriva L'inverno, PiÃ¹ Disappunti Ã Dispiacere' (Petey's Song) 8:08; 'MÃ©lodia Per Una Memoria' (Faded Now And Half Remembered) 19:36. The first track consists of lines from Matthew Arnold's (1822-1888) poem, 'Longing,' with a musical backdrop of crystalline atmospheric guitar. The vocal recitation comes courtesy of Clementina Di Ciccolini while Fazio obviously supplies the nebulous atmospherics. I assume that Clementina's voice has been altered to reflect both the male and female perspective, 'Come to me in my dreams, and then By day I shall be well again! For so the night will more than pay, The hopeless longing of the day' (male) and 'Run away, run away with me, run away with me my love, for you are my one true love. Let's go where we can be that way forever'¦forever' (female). I'm not sure where the female part comes from; it isn't Arnold's 'Longing' poem, and sounds a bit Hallmark greeting-cardish. Plainly though, this is all a bit pretentious. Imagine Robin Guthrie setting his guitar atmospherics to love poems by Byron, Keats or Shelley. I'm sure a lot of people would buy it, but I doubt I would. I can't say Fazio's concept isn't well-executed; it's just a bit too arty for me.
Track 2, 'Petey's Song' (I'm not repeating the lengthy Italian name) is primarily a piano piece with some atmospherics. While the composition is not without interest, the execution is heavy-handed and somewhat jarring. Harold Budd it definitely is not. The piano tonality sounds kind of harsh, which doesn't help. Track 3, 'Faded Now And Half Remembered,' has the best abstract ambient atmospherics of the three, and I didn't much mind when Enrico Caruso's operatic tenor voice briefly drifted in and out a few times as it seemed fitting in a ghostly sort of way.
As far as art projects go, 'ÃlÃ©gie' has all the hallmarks, right down to the elaborate packaging- a limited, edition of 200 in a matte finished digipak, handmade booklet (signed by Fazio in gold ink) & vellum wrap; recorded and mastered in 96K / 24 bit audiophile audio CD. If you're going to go the 'art for art's sake' route, you might as well pull out all the stops, and Mike Fazio does that with aplomb to realize his vision. Whether this will resonate with you or not may depend on your capacity for lofty musical conceptualism.