Il Santo Bevitore – Water And Tears COVERIl Santo Bevitore – Water And Tears

(Opal Tapes)

Cassette/ Download

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Louder Than War Bomb Rating 4

 

Andy Brown explores the dark, instrumental experimentalism of Water And Tears by Il Santo Bevitore. He shares his thoughts for Louder Than War.

I first discovered the music of Nicola Serra aka Il Santo Bevitore via the dark, shamanistic soundscapes of Realm Of Consciousness. Released in 2018 via the reliably inspiring Aurora Borealis label, the album left an impression with its combination of rumbling electronics and ritualistic percussion. A London-based multi-instrumentalist from Sardinia, Serra creates instrumental music that engages and challenges the listener. Water And Tears finds the composer releasing his debut for the Opal Tapes label and exploring quite different yet equally intriguing sonic terrain. Those interested in all things strange and experimental should most certainly pay attention.

Amongst the synths and sonic manipulation, Il Santo Bevitore collaborates with other musicians to forge entire worlds. The electronic arrangements are given life with a smorgasbord of instrumentation from flute, viola and theremin to contrabassoon, glockenspiel and clarinet. Everything is used to create an experimental and unearthly atmosphere. Just take the ‘vocals’ on the appropriately titled Elusive Loop; snippets of screams and a female voice that sounds like it’s trapped in purgatory. I can imagine it being used to great effect on a film although probably not the next Pixar release.

Water And Tears has undeniable moments of beauty yet those after a smooth, uneventful ride should look elsewhere. A Spell On You opens the album and serves as an invite and a warning with 59 seconds of unsettling sounds and ominous tones. The sound of a cosmic doorway creaking open. Step inside and you’ll be greeted by pensive drones and an absolutely gorgeous glockenspiel melody. Playing out like some otherworldly music box melody, Fractured Belief stands as the most nakedly beautiful moment on the album. On the flip side, there are tracks like Flesh that batter the listener with cascading percussion, industrial menace and demonic howls.

Percussion is used more sparingly on this release than it was on the Realm Of Consciousness album yet it remains an essential aspect of Serra’s sound. The Sun Does Not Always Shine uses ritualistic drums and sounds that invoke the image of explorers lost in the deepest part of some hot, sweaty and unhospitable jungle. Well, it sounds like that to me anyway. Musically, imagine Moondog, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Mica Levi ‘jamming’ and you’ll get the idea. It’s how Il Santo Bevitore brings these sounds and influences together that makes Water And Tears such a mesmeric experience.

Speaking of Mica Levi, there’s certainly a cinematic sensibility to the music. The part in Malia where the jazzy sax and haunted drones are interrupted by a flurry of dramatic percussion would work wonderfully if matched with an appropriate visual. Like the most interesting films, you’ll find something new each time you dive in. Water And Tears is a challenging, rewarding and endlessly enticing album. Il Santo Bevitore creates the kind of music designed for total submersion. Having said this, listening to the album while queuing at the Post Office certainly made a rather mundane trip out substantially more interesting.

The mysterious title track perfectly captures the uncanny, somewhat eerie, atmosphere that runs throughout these 12 tracks. The textures and tones are forever shifting and drifting between heaven and hell. Like a soundtrack to a film that never was, Water And Tears is a real work of art by an artist enamoured by the endless possibilities of sound.

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You can find Il Santo Bevitore on Facebook, Instagram and Bandcamp.

All words by Andy Brown. You can visit his author profile and read more of his reviews for Louder Than War here.

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I wrote a tonne of reviews for Soundblab Alternative Music between 2010 -2020. Very excited to be writing for the excellent Louder Than War!

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