Federico Albanese :: The Houseboat and the Moon (Denovali)

An emotionally open and atmospherically charged debut that feels like a long warm hug from an old friend you haven’t seen in years.

February 2014 was sonically hectic for me. GoGo Penguin’s v2.0, Dub Spencer & Trance Hill’s William S. Burroughs In Dub, and Sonar’s Static Motion were on heavy rotation. I was traveling through wonderfully uplifting, hallucinatory and dark sonic districts, and needed something that will balance things up a bit. Something heartwarming that is sweet but not too sweet. Fortunately, Federico Albanese’s first solo album arrived safely late January from the Denovali headquarters. Born in Milan, and currently based in Berlin, Albanese is a composer known in recent years mainly for his collaboration with Jessica Einaudi under the project name La Blanche Alchimie, and for scoring several films, short films and documentaries.

Whenever relaxation was needed, or calm, sunny Saturday mornings were pleading for intensification, The Houseboat and the Moon was there for me, ready to provide. Its cinematic power made the shadows of the branches upon the trees perform spiritual, hypnotic dances on the sidewalks, and its nostalgic glow conjured up warm childhood memories that were so vivid I was almost able to touch them just before they disappeared. Albanese uses the piano as the journey’s guide, and spice it up just in the right places with delicate electronic layers and treatments that add luminosity and depth. He plays the piano with expressivity which cannot be taught, and often it feels like he plays just for you. At times, a glow of a cello slides in smoothly, and glockenspiel, vibraphone or bells chime gently.

The Houseboat and the Moon is an emotionally open and atmospherically charged debut that feels like a long warm hug from an old friend you haven’t seen in years. It has small imperfections that actually make it perfect. The piano parts were recorded with a 1969 German tape recorder, the Uher Royal Deluxe, and that intensifies Albanese’s passionate touch and the overall dreamy vibe throughout the thirteen compositions. Even though it has some shades of Ludovico Einaudi, that especially remind me of Nightbook; The Houseboat and the Moon drifts in the more experimental territories of the modern classical genre with a distinctive and engaging personality. Definitely recommended.

The Houseboat and the Moon is available on Denovali.

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