Gigi Masin`s Venezia 2016 was / is a masterpiece that slipped by largely unnoticed nearly half a decade ago. Despite Gigi being revered and celebrated in certain circles, following the label Music From Memory’s essential retrospective of his work, titled Talk To The Sea, there was no song and dance. Perhaps this was because the album was only released on CD, as part of an art project, housed within a hardback book of photographs visualizing, documenting, Venice, Gigi`s birthplace and home, at night. Maybe it was down to the single piece`s 30 minute length. For whatever reason, it failed to be championed by the “ambient” and “chill out” DJs who Gigi had previously enthralled. The only person who did seem to pick up on it was Basso, at The Growing Bin, which is where I bought my copy. Basso took every opportunity to promote the bespoke object and sounds. But no one, it seemed, was listening. Stefano Gentile, the artist responsible for the original`s accompanying artwork – entitled “Il Silenzio Dei Tuoi Passi” (The Silence Of Your Steps) – through his imprint, 13 / Silentes, will reissue Venezia 2016, on vinyl, today. On the record, the track appears as a 21 minute, side-long, edit, now joined by a second piece, Abandoned Venice, dedicated to the late Harold Budd. A synthetic symphony, it shimmers like street lights, sodium spots, the wistful whispers of the day disappearing in the distance, as a jazz bar piano gently plays. Invoking an evening unfolding, restaurants opening up. Tables laid in courtyards, catching passing custom. Lovers together, taking the air. There are the subtle electronic twists of Fennesz` Endless Summer, turned autumnal. Expresso cafes and tobacco kiosks slowly collect crowds of regulars. Friends catching up. Market stalls hawk the last of their wares, winding down. Black cats dart across cobblestones, promising a run of bad luck. Folks out walking their dogs. This is the soundtrack to the uncrowded parts of “La Serenissima”, the bits that the tourists never see. Away from the cruise ships, canals, gondole, and Piazza San Marco. Instead where the Veneziano live, day to day. A mazed metropolis of narrow streets, steeped in a history, that’s impossible forget or ignore. Keys cascading like ripples of conversation. Eavesdropped as you wander by. The chatter and secrets of couples woo-ing, hand-in-hand. Groups of old fellers, shooting the breeze, pulling legs, laughing at one another’s trials and misfortunes. All with their collars raised to the cold. Electric and acoustic piano refrains repeating, but constantly changing. It`s a masterclass in minimalism.
The second selection is much darker in tone. A muted march, a rising rumble, brightened by clipped, cryptic choirs. Melody surfacing on steely sharp sheets of distortion. A drift, a deep dive, a haunted hush. The CD and cassette editions both contain a third composition. Again, a score for Venice in the fall, created during October 2016, it summons the spirit of lonely bustle. Painting a picture where everyone is busy, going somewhere, fixed on their own path, unaware of each other`s worries or concerns. Constructed, carefully crafted, from less than a handful of treated sources, it`s an echoing ache of orchestral, spectral strings and the sighs of otherworldly, alien, angels. Nostalgic sirens. Decaying, infinitely, as they weave their way through the rocks of the past. Navigating familiar places, strangers faces, mapping a city steadily being eroded and lost. The music of yesterday’s feet. Its richly textured atmosphere initially tense and anxious. A serenade, not sinister, but suffused, perhaps, with everyday sadness. Sorrows, disappointments, and determination. The background bass hum becoming a deafening roar, a vacuum, the sound of Stefano`s original titular silence. Ultimately evolving into an emotive epic as the more traditional tones of a cello / violin, cut through. A moving monument to the caresses, whispers, warm breath, caught, frozen, on the seasonal air.