Federico Albanese : An Escape Story With A Boat Under The Moon

Federico Albanese
Federico Albanese

My finding about Federico Albanese was totally a coincidence. While I was checking my Twitter timeline, Denovali Record label tweeted about him. Every day many musician names are mentioned on social media, however I don’t know what makes us to check that name out. I clicked on the link and found myself immediately immersed into his music and then the journey into Albanese’s music started.

Federico Albanese is a composer born in Milan, Italy in 1982, and currently based in Berlin. Federico started studying piano and clarinet as a child before becoming fascinated by rock music. As a teenager he studied bass and became a self-taught guitarist and soon became one of the leading figures of Milan’s underground scene, performing in several bands. Influenced by black music, folk, electronic, modern and contemporary classical music his skills as a composer soon emerged.

In 2007 Albanese met singer and songwriter Jessica Einaudi and together they founded the avant-garde duo “La Blanche Alchimie” that I started listening after finding out more about him. Their sound, blending acoustics with rock-inspired dreamy atmosphere, has an interesting fusion considering Einaudi and Albanese’s musical backgrounds. Composing songs with Jessica, Albanese rediscovered his love for the piano, which from that moment on, became his main instrument.

In February, Federico Albanese will release his debut album entitled ‘The Houseboat and the Moon‘ from Denovali Records. In their press release, it is stated that Federico Albanese found a place, an imaginary place, where, whenever he wanted to, he could jump on and just float away. On this moving shelter, traveling across memories and imagination, lulled by water and led by the moon, Federico wrote the 13 compositions of his debut. Although he was inspired by the moon and the water, I always found myself surrounded with snow on a gray winter day while listening to it. He recorded all of the piano parts with a 1969 German tape recorder, the Uher Royal Deluxe, which allowed him to catch all of the tiny hidden shades, the imperfections, the noises of the piano and its surrounding space. Federico melts this rarefied sound with electronics, live recordings, strings, and homemade instruments. The result is a combination of contrasts and colors with a variety of atmospheres that wonderfully represents Federico’s musical universe.

The album opener “Beyond The Milk Wood” starts in such a beautiful ambience created with electronics promising to take you to another world. After the piano enters softly with the repetition of two chords, the melody follows the trail and is ready to hug you with its warmth. It is like walking in the snow enjoying the high-pitched notes as if they were snowflakes falling on your face.”Disclosed” opens with a repetitive melody and a soft accompany of the chords. The minor mood is intensified with the beautifully-arranged strings, which make you feel that you are alone but happy walking in that snowy forest. Another minor song “Carousel 3” is so soft and touching with the dialogue between the piano and the violin at times. Then comes the electronics intrusion which turns out to be the third in this ethereal conversation. You can fall on your back on the snow without feeling any fear as the song will tightly catch you and covers you with its notes like a blanket so that you don’t even feel the cold. My favourite song from the album  “Queen and Wonder” is a meditative piece starting with a sombre melody. With the addition of electronics, one can definitely be happy to drown in this mournful spiralling melody looping around forever. “Carousel 1″‘s repeated melody anchors the song in my ear while the strings softly whisper. “Double Vision” is one of the songs that has a lively start conveying the joy children get out of playing in the snow. Strings are in slow and blur mood without contradicting the piano’s excitement. With “Kato”‘s getting-away-from-it-all mood, the boat finally appeared before me. I felt the gray and snowy seaside reaching through the evening under the last warm reflections of the sun.  There is not a sad moment, rather there is a feeling of contentment for the boat that has left and even one can feel the urge to be inside it as it may promise an escape from the world’s turmoil for some time while sailing away with its serene melody. “Lichtung” is like a space in the snow designed for skating. The left-hand chords are in harmony with the right-hand’s melodies as if they were a figure skating couple. “Beside You” starts with twinkling minor chords, which the melody and the strings follow soon with their sombre mood. After a while, electronics starts to snow on us snowflake by snowflake. The minimalist and emotional notes of “Secret Room” unfolds from icy piano that comes in and out of minor chords to stormy atmosphere intensified with electronics. The rise and fall of the tension in the song resonates well with rolling down the snowy hills. “The Sudden Sympathy” has the reminiscence of a folk song which  has a sombre texture. The piece’s repetitve melody makes you feel like being all alone in the snow. “Sphere” starts with a recurring bassline reaching towards the high-pitched keys while accompanying strings and electronics jazz up the atmosphere. Walking in the snow now seems to have a target, drawing its strength from the tango-like moves of the song. It feels like as if one stands in the middle and the camera revolves around him or her as it seems that the journey is coming to an end. The longest song in the album “Space in between” reminds me of the lazy afternoons spent with one’s boyfriend or girlfriend due to its soft chords and willingly content melody. One can picture himself or herself on that boat mentioned above flowing into a laid-back night under the spell of the half moon creating shimmers on the snowy mountains around.

Albanese’s compositions are airy and cinematic, blending classical music, electronics and psychedelia. All his pieces are instilled with a melancholy which is never overwhelming with depression as his piano is rich and warm and there is an intimate dynamics within the album.  The warm touches of the bows against the strings, the mild glowing of electronics and the heartfelt melodies of the piano make this album a must to listen. Federico Albanese’s dexterity for hauntingly beautiful and melancholy elated songs make his sound so mesmerising that it leaves you in a serene haze long after the music comes to a halt.

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