Banjo or Freakout
2. Go Ahead
3. Can't be Mad For Nothing
4. Move Out
5. Idiot Rain
6. Fully Enjoy
7. From Everyone Above
8. Black Scratches
9. Dear Me
10. I Don't Want to Start All Over Again
Details Banjo or Freakout
Banjo Or Freakout, the moniker of London based musician Alessio Natalizia, is all set to release the self titled debut album on Memphis Industries on 21 February 2011. The record is a heady collection of introspective beats and carefully constructed moments forged across borders and genre. Italian born Londoner Alessio makes heartfelt stargaze pop, following in the sonic footprints left by artists like Kevin Shields, Can, Arthur Russell and contemporaries Wilco, Caribou and Deerhunter.
“I think that it works when you want to be taken over, encompassed by music, when you are looking to lose yourself in something” Alessio says, and this ethos imbues itself throughout the richly textured sound of Banjo Or Freakout, with melody invoking visceral emotions and experiences. A shimmering sound, where sonic invention meets timeless pop sensibilities in equal measure.
Alessio grew up in the medieval Italian town of Vasto listening to Bob Dylan’s ‘Blood On The Tracks’ on repeat, with a musician grandpa who bought him a classical guitar when he was eight kick starting his sonic adventures. Alessio later spent time playing in noted Turin based post-punk trio Disco Drive but it wasn’t until a move to London that Alessio’s music really started garnering attention outside of Italy. “Living in London I understood my need to do something different that felt more personal. With Banjo I just wanted to do something that was 100% me. I started playing around with my girlfriend’s laptop while I was waiting for her to come back from work and discovered a new world of making music.” The aim was to make “personal pop songs that will not die in a couple of years, songs that have longevity, that you could go back to and listen in 10 years and still feel close to”. For Banjo Alessio drew inspiration from classic writers such as Arthur Russell, Dennis Wilson, Robert Wyatt and Scott Walker but also from avant disco and pysch pop Italian artists such as Claudio Rocchi, Faust’o, Automat, Giovanotti Mondami Meccanici, Alan Sorrenti and Roberto Caccipaglia.
After a string of acclaimed remixes for artists as diverse as Bloc Party, Burial and Wild Beasts, Alessio released the first Banjo EP, the self produced Upside Down, in May 2009 which received universal critical praise on both sides of the pond. Swathed in gauzy melancholia, Upside Down serves as a sonic sketch for the introspective dreaminess of the album. Following the EP’s release Alessio continued his home recording adventures with the principle of “just one take, never more than one take” and, by early 2010, had amassed over a hundred demos, no mean feat considering during the same time he released and toured another album as one half of acclaimed Kompakt signed ambient act WALLS.
Nicolas Vernhes (acclaimed producer of Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, Bjork and Spoon) at Rare Book Room studios in New York, heard some of the Banjo demos and invited Alessio over to make the album, an invitation that was too good to miss. They spent two weeks recording the album with Alessio playing most of the instruments with Nicolas chipping in on some guitar and synth parts and Matt Tong of Bloc Party playing some drums. The decision to record with Nicolas proved a good move as the record feels like a real progression from the early Banjo bedroom releases, more muscular with melodies more clearly defined.
Album highlights include the opener and first single ‘105’, a woozy epic of tremolo guitar, horizon set acoustics and a heartfelt vocal in the vein of a Bob Timble ballad. From then on, the album unfurls with oblique vocals, soft motorik beats, simple guitar and drum loops, lush arrangements, everything gently vibrating and feedbacking through tracks such as the dark, sweet and simple singsong of Idiot Rain, the four minute guitar loop mantra of Fully Enjoy and From Everyone Above, about a recurring dream of drowning in a wide green and blue sea.