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  • Nathan Yoder

Recommended Listening: Nicola Di Croce - Hearing Voices

Sometimes a label discovery happens at just the right time in your creative life. As I've noted before, outside of playing guitar in college bands years back, I am not much of a musician myself. But every so often, I get the urge to scratch that itch again. Last week, I began a deep dive into field recording methodology since it's something that interests me, and was quickly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information available. Just I was reaching my wits' end, A Closer Listen dropped this review, and after reading it and then listening to all six Vertical Music releases over the weekend, I was reminded that one does not need to create music to love it.

The first three Vertical Music cassettes came out in 2019, but due to pandemic disruption, the next batch of three was delayed until now. Alyssa Moxley's Underdrift is great, but we just reviewed a volcano-centric field recording album, if you can believe that. Plus, ACL has it covered already. Shuta Hiraki's Cirrus is compelling too - a collection of the artist's fragmented memories of Nagasaki. But Nicola Di Croce's Hearing Voices is our favorite of the group. We'll focus now on now this release.

Di Croce is a Venice-based artist whose research and sonic output focuses primarily on the relationship between territory and sound. To record Hearing Voices, he traveled to Craco, a ghost town in southern Italy which was devastated by a 1963 landslide. Abandoned by humans, plant and animal life began to occupy Craco, and these new, wild occupants are thriving there today.

Listening to Hearing Voices, you realize that even when a space is characterized as "empty" or "unoccupied" or, as I wrote, "abandoned," it does not mean that it is devoid of sound. In fact, these spaces are often quite loud. Across Di Croce's album, you catch insect noise, bird chirps, chimes and voice (there must be a few people milling about, or perhaps ghosts?), rocks and rubble, and a whole lot of sheep, or maybe goats. In any case, this ghost town is very much animated, and it's talking. For stretches, Di Croce leaves his recordings raw, but often, he processes them into layers or loops. These different approaches make for tracks which rarely sit still, jumping between textures. Hear for yourself in the album's first movement below.

Hearing Voices is available for streaming and purchase now, on Vertical Music's Bandcamp page. Make sure to listen to all six of the label's releases while you're there, and check out those physical cassette editions, too. We can't wait for the next batch of three to drop.


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