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Fabio Orsi - Stand Up Before Me, Oh My Soul!

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Artist: Fabio Orsi

Album: Stand Up Before Me, Oh My Soul!

Label: Preservation

Review date: Mar. 17, 2011


Fabio Orsi / Valerio Cosi - "Naked Trance" (Stand Before Me, Oh My Soul!)


Italian sound-cruncher Fabio Orsi has made a career out of tempestuous drones and chilling atmospheres. In a five-year wave of self-released-this and limited-that, Orsi has garnished a good amount of due cred. His latest for Australia’s Preservation (and as part of their limited edition CD series called Circa) does nothing to diminish this reputation. The drones are ominous and the atmosphere is nothing short of turbulent.

Orsi is a studio musician at his core. His music builds slowly out of central themes, one channel fader at a time. The sound sources vary: live instrumentation, field recordings, atmospheric electronics, processed sounds and the like. He also has an excellent ear for pace. “Start-stop” is not part of Orsi’s vocabulary; his compositions are experiments in controlled intensity. They build and build and build and then wash away, as if from a broken dam, into silence. This type of songcraft has its drawbacks, especially if Orsi is pursuing a more rock-ish sound. The songs can begin to feel like noisy guitar versions of an electronica track. And there is a discernable lack of fluidity to some of the tracks that would aid the energy Orsi is trying to lasso.

Stand Up Before Me, Oh My Soul! follows, and varies from, the Orsi ethos. The drum loops enlisted surprisingly verge on punk rhythms, and while the central buzz of an Orsi drone is as menacing as any of his noise pursuits, the sound they emit is unmistakably guitar-driven instead of his typical method of infinite processing. The strategic pace is here as well, and at its peak, it’s pummeling. The only breaths you get between the swirling drum-loops and sirens of “Papa, Show Me Your Blues LPs” and the cascading agro-rock of “My Awesome Drugs Propaganda” are the fade-outs and fade-ins, and they don’t last long. For a lover of atmospheres, Orsi has presented a rather confrontational record.

But, like an Orsi composition, the album itself builds from quieter moments and ends on one, too. The opening track, “Naked Trance,” is a slowly enveloping piece of braiding drones and an unhurried drum rhythm. While at the tail end of the record, “Ghost Track” resembles a mechanical shoegaze band and “Soon, I’ll Be at Home” is 10 minutes of warm guitar by-product.

Stand Up Before Me, Oh My Soul! is not a peak Orsi album, but it’s hardly a let down. Maybe it’s the grandiose title that leaves the music sounding just a little flat, or possibly it’s the plethora of recent records to choose from. The eyebrow-raising moments are worth the listening investment, but it’s not one that will appreciate significantly over time.

By Michael Ardaiolo

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