Two pandemic-inspired, apartment-recorded, loop-based DC album recommendations in a single week? Actually, if you've been keeping track, this is at least the fifth consecutive "Recommended Listening" post in which the COVID-forced lockdown has not only been mentioned, but has also played a major role in the featured album's narrative. It's not that surprising really, given our collective experience over the past year-and-a-half, which has coincided with ambient music's rising popularity. Bedroom recording was not stylistic choice, but instead a necessary shift, and for many artists, loop-based ambient music offered a bit of melodic predictability and mental calm. So hopefully you don't lump all of these albums into a broad "pandemic music" category, because everyone processed these months differently, and each offering tells a unique story. Through these singular artifacts, artists display emotion and vulnerability, and it is a privilege to hear their work.
And unfortunately, as rising COVID-19 rates indicate, it seems that we aren't out of the woods yet.
In early 2020, the pandemic ravaged Italy, the home nation of composer Bruno Bavota. Like many others, Bavota went into lockdown and waited. But as weeks of isolation turned into months, he slowly began to channel his drawn-out anxiety into musical experimentation. The resulting pieces fell into two categories, distinct in sound but connected by theme. For Apartments: Songs & Loops is a collection of brief solo piano works and processed synth drones, the two halves combining to make a beautiful sonic document.
Though the album title lists songs THEN loops, the tracklisting reverses that order. Bavota's first six offerings are longform "loops," numbers three and five being our personal favorites. Three is a spiraling organ build with slightly menacing undertones, but five is a twinkling, joyous piece. Both are exquisite. Then come the thirteen "songs" on vinyl two. We here at DC are suckers for minimalist, there-in-the-room, solo piano sketches, so this second half is right up our alley. It's hard to narrow down favorites, but we love number five - a tightly played composition you might hear at a recital, and nine - a meandering work with plenty of ambient apartment noise backing Bavota's piano.
Totaling 19 tracks and four sides, For Apartments: Songs & Loops is huge, but we hope that you'll give it a complete listen when it is released on August 27th through Temporary Residence Ltd - preview and preorder it here. In the meantime, you can view the video for the album's lead single below. As the pandemic changes form and drags on, music like Bavota's is not a cure-all by any means, but it may offer a bit of calm in the chaos ahead of us fall. Take care of yourself.