in Grey: A Quiet Place
INTERVIEWS (see also under - Radio transmissions)
"La dernière rencontre", Autres Directions, July 2009
"Sparkle in Grey, the recipients of an Honorable Mention in TSB's Top 50 Records of 2008", The Silent Ballet, Feb. 2009
"Autori di uno dei migliori dischi elettro/improv dell’anno", Audiodrome, Nov. 2008
"Well the grass is always greener, huh?", The Silent Ballet, Feb. 2009
"Metamorfosi industriale", Blow Up, July/Aug 2008
"Un concentrato di post-rock, glitch, ambient e molto altro ancora", Rockit.it, July 2008
"Gli intona(r)umori", Rockerilla, June/July 2008
"Goose Game mini intervista", Radio Erre/LupOnAir, Feb. 2009
- Notturna, Radio Popolare, by Renato Scuffietti, 18th June 2008, 0:40 - 1:30, Matteo Uggeri telephone interview + tracks from A Quiet Place
Renato scuffietti: "Delusion Song: ecco per me un esempio di canzone perfetta"
- Venti22, Radio Hinterland, 13th May 2008, 20:00 - 22:00, Sparkle in Grey on the radio, intervista e brani da A Quiet Place e Nefelodhis
- Battiti, Radio 3, by Nicola Catalano 25th feb 2008 - Delusion Song
- Battiti, Radio 3, by Nicola Catalano 27th feb 2008 - Teacher Song
Nicola Catalano: “Un misto di elettronica e post-rock laddove gli strumenti acustici si sposano molto bene con il framestio degli strumenti elettronici."
- Alternitalia, Radio Città Aperta, by Gianluca Polverari - Pim in Delay
- Alternitalia, Radio Città Aperta, by Gianluca Polverari 30th march - Goose Game
- Alternitalia, Radio Città Aperta, by Gianluca Polverari 3rd april - A Quiet Place
- Mundo Bizarro in Radio Universidad in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico - Playlist 06/18/08 opened by MB & Sparkle in Grey- The Beauty of Clouds Seen from Above
- LupOnAir, Radio Erre, March 2009, Goose Game
...trasmessa tra Napalm Death, UK Dekay e Manowar
HONORABLE MENTION AMONG THE BEST 2008 RELEASES - The Silent Ballet
Milano’s Sparkle in Grey fuse Hue’s cornucopia of sounds with melodies and beats, creating an engaging and complex record. Produced and mastered by the one and only Giuseppe Ielasi, A Quiet Place is the epitome of a well-executed headphone record. Originally a solo project of Hue (Matteo Uggeri) this is their first release as a proper four-piece band, though not in any conventional sense. A Quiet Place is a melancholic mix of found sound, field recordings, more conventional instrumentation, electronics, and downright noise. Most of life is cloudy, but these ragazzi Italiani insist on finding the sparkle in the grey. Somehow, something very beautiful emerges, and despite the kitchen sink mentality, the listener is transported to a quiet place. (Joe Sannicandro)
Matt Blackall, Foxy Digitalis
Sparkle in Grey are an Italian quartet founded by Matteo Uggeri, an electronics artist who often goes by the moniker Hue. The group has been collaborating since 2006, but "A Quiet Place" is their proper debut album. Group members contribute bass, guitar, violin, electronics, percussion, glockenspiel, samples, and field recordings to the mix for a fresh-sounding dynamic. Their sound might be described as post rock, but that label alone doesn't really do full justice to music the group creates. Really, the combination of standard rock instruments with the less conventional violin and electronic effects make this album stand out. Even better is the playful attitude that permeates all of the music. You really get the feeling that Sparkle in Grey had a good time mashing together all of the different sounds.
The great thing about "A Quiet Place" is that Sparkle in Grey don't get hung up in any one mood or style for very long. With their tremendous sonic palette, they are able to lay out songs that feel and sound completely different, yet still fit in with the general idea of the album. The album opens with nearly thirteen minute track "Limpronta." It begins with a smattering of light electronics, samples, and field recordings. This gives way to percussion and eventually violin and guitar. The songs slowly builds, but never gets overpowering as all of the elements blend. With it's melancholy feel, this song is a great contrast to another great moment later in the album: the short, delicate "Teacher Song." Opening and ending with a recording of a child singing, it moves into light violin, guitar, and glockenspiel. Behind it, water noises burble along with field recordings of cars driving by. The album closes with a band with the echoing, mysterious "Delusion Song." All of the familiar instrumental elements are combined one last time and make a big impression on the way out before fading out into a final surprise. (Sorry, you'll have to hear it for yourself, but I will say it will make you smile.) Needless to say, it's worth making the journey all they way through this disc.
James Crossan, The Silent Ballet
“Sparkle in Grey do not sing, do not dance in public, do not have lyrics to hang up on teenage bedroom walls” - as opposed to concocting something to break the ice I thought I’d let the band speak for themselves. Late night phone conversations, tidal noise, plughole sound effects, sinister fairytale narratives, cassette rattle & childish burbling follows suit – the list goes on. A cornucopia of curios ironically backdrop A Quiet Place, and there’s a touch of musical finesse in there too. Originally a solo project which kicked off on the turn of the last decade, Sparkle numbered four members as of 2006. With a blend of soft electronics, a smattering of organic instrumentation peppered with field recordings they make for an interesting sound - a quirky portfolio of novelty noise & serene meditations that are quite pleasing to the ear if you will. With a back catalogue of nigh on a zillion remixes, collaborations & split releases they are a prolific bunch with a varied network of influences and alliances. In fact, their history is diffused with so many side-projects & co-operatives that I’m not really sure who they are or what took them so long to go it alone, but hey, they’re here, so pull up a chair.
None other than Giuseppe Ielasi (sometime TSB artist of the week and Top 50 chart tickler in 2007) has taken the controls on this latest outing in terms of recording, mixing, and mastering duties. Renowned for his trademark improvised sonorities, would we be forgiven for suggesting that perhaps osmosis played a part in the artistic process for SiG? The answer remains to be seen, but a fine chaperone nonetheless is at the wheel. Ielasi’s production is exceptionally vibrant, with each tap, twitch, fizz & groan exposed in pristine clarity and brought to the fore, accentuating the understated musical meanderings beautifully. The tone is proud yet pondering, serene yet never dull, with a sense of mystery evoked by the feather-touch musicianship. Melodies are softly coaxed to reveal themselves and rhythms are gently coerced into action, building with a slow pace then breaking away to a pause or unexpected flurry, swaggering to and fro in a pulsing electronic fizz interspersed with crests of organic lucidity.
Kicking off with “Limpronta” we are met by footsteps on gravel, fan-noise, tapping and anonymous shuffling. Followed by the sound of locks, bolts, chains, and a static-laden discourse on studio neurosis, an experimental mood is set, and our curiosity searches through the haze for answers. An urgent ride cymbal and oscillating hum brings us to the cusp of insanity and finally pauses on a heartbeat-style solitary drum. Ominous croaking (which reminds me of a breathing stoma) and rattlesnake percussion steals through the stillness, heralding guitar vibrato, violin, and the fulfilment of the opener in a dizzying array of sound. The final seconds sound like a dying wind-up toy, which sets the scene for the template hereafter - a nice opener, and I’m eager to see where they’re taking us.
Teased to life by a burgeoning drum beat, “Goose Game” is an infectious track and a personal favourite. With each addition the percussion grows to an electro-flecked pace as a jovial bass line rises out of the rumpus to tickle the listener's attention. Suddenly things dissipate, but return in a swelling tumult. Finally overthrown by guitar, the music takes on a new direction, but it’s a fantastic apex sounding like Björk’s “Human Behaviour” married to a drunken riff pilfered from Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love”. Add a pinch of Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club’s lascivious guitar swaggering, and it’s an effortlessly nonchalant capstone to a great track.
With only six tracks in total we’re almost halfway through, but thus far things are intriguing and impressive. Things never get boring as pieces drift into each other like cloud formations, softly dissolving and becoming something new. At times subdued and speckled with electro-pulses and placid knockings, the music is nonetheless engaging as it pirouettes and lulls, pauses momentarily for a breath, then kicks off with aplomb, punching through the reverie to pursue another melody or direction decorated with sonic novelties. While never aggressively demanding your attention, when it does suck you in the intricate patchwork of nuances can be quite captivating - there’s an essence of charm that draws the listener in slowly. You could describe it collectively as a field recording project married to delicate melodies, interspersed with one or two moments of gusto and occasionally tangled in violin, but that wouldn’t give the release the credit it deserves. Treated with some laptop spoon-bending effects and interpolated with the genius of Ielasi I think we’ve got a contender on our hands here.
Sounding like an Epic45 outtake, “Techer Song” tinkles with all the daintiness of a snow-globe landscape, offering a short reprieve before we enter the moaning ‘Dagaboh’ sound-scape of “Pim in Delay” where things turn slightly sinister. Softly delayed guitar and dull throbs caressed by slivers of violin rise amongst synthetic murmurs and cassette shuffling, then gently overdriven guitar returns, along with vibrant percussion and wah flavourings as a sumptuous coda. This is another defining moment of the album, where the rock aesthetic is emphasised, rising above the twee musicianship of the other tracks. It fits in snugly all the same, with SiG proving themselves comfortable on many different playing fields. “Delusion Song” sounds like its namesake, with a disoriented violin and sprinkled notes drifting through a liquid haze, then all returns to rest once more in a "sleep that knits the ravelled sleeve of care". A Quiet Place comes to a close with a dainty musical jewellery-box tune suggestive of innocence and peacefulness, a return to a dreamlike state within the arms of stillness.
Replete with textured guitar flavourings and at one point the distant screams of tortured chipmunks, this album is best experienced alone and with a good set of headphones at high volume. Like a faulty pacemaker it lurches, stalls, slumbers, and strolls all at once, and would take a lot of effort to dislike. In all, it is a collection of tracks that is hard to collectively label; each return visit throws up a new filament to dissect, and within their layers a considered tapestry woven to a beautiful finish. Yet despite their detail, they remain soft velvet hues of unimposing sound distilled with excellent musicianship. Perhaps Ielasi has divined a spirit from within the music lost up to now, or mined threads which were unnoticed before his presence arrived? Whatever the case, it’s a step-up and hopefully a precursor for more to follow; I think it may be time to take notice.
Eskaton, Chain D.L.K.
Dmitry Vasilyev, Monochrome Vision.
Lino Brunetti, Buscadero
Giampaolo Cristofaro, Audiodrome
Come un aereo che squarcia nuvole basse.
Denis, Autres Directions (disque "platine"!)
A la base, les 6 longues compositions qui constituent A Quiet Place sont des improvisations électroniques que Hue compose en solitaire depuis son petit village perdu du nord de l’Italie. Et puis au fil des concerts, les éléments organiques joués par ses 3 partenaires s’additionnent à ses structures, s’immiscent dans les ambiances et tissent des mélodies. Probablement est-ce schéma de travail qui confèrent aux compositions de Sparkle in Grey sa singularité. Quand le violon vient enfin soutenir une batterie rachitique sur Limpronta alors que depuis 6 minutes déjà, les nappes synthétiques dégagent une matière oppressante. Passée cette longue entrée en matière à caractère climatique, les italiens font preuve sur Goose Game de leur réelle velléité : break assassin au beau milieu d’une divagation électronique, batterie martiale, ligne de basse dévastatrice alors qu’on croyait tenir là des sages soundmakers.
La musique de Sparkle In Grey est ainsi, toujours en équilibre et surtout recèle une formidable richesse (inutile d’écouter A Quiet Place autrement qu’à fort volume, dans le calme et avec attention) - le travail sur les textures sonores est d’une minutie et d’une pertinence rares. Le groupe se joue ainsi de ses influences (post-rock à la Silver Mt Zion, néo-classique style The Rachel’s, ambiant à la Biosphere, électro dans la veine de Pan American... on ne sait à quel saint se vouer) pour mieux influencer notre humeur du moment.
Achim Breiling, BabyBlaue
Die Band selbst bezeichnet ihre Musik als "a sort of electronic and eclectic post-rock", was die Sache eigentlich gut trifft. Getragene, eindringliche, hypnotisch-repetitive Postrockmuster mit Kammerrocktendenz treffen auf Elektroniktöne und allerlei weiteren Klang, Geräusch und Stimmen. "A Quiet Place" ist - dem Titel entsprechend - eher sparsam instrumentiert, wird von E-Gitarre und Violine bestimmt, die mitunter von Bass und Schlagwerk ergänzt bzw. rhythmisch vorangetrieben werden. Dazu kommen diverseste Sounds, allerlei elektronisches Wabern, Fiepen, Zischen und Dröhnen, viele Umweltgeräusche und immer wieder Sprachfetzen. Nicht selten nimmt das Gemenge Fahrt auf, erklingen die Gitarren etwas rauer und verzerrt, rockt die Musik hypnotisch und intensiv voran.
Uggeri selbst ist Klangbastler, vermengt "field recordings" mit elektronischen Sounds und bearbeitet das Ergebnis weiter am Computer. Das dient dann als Grundlage für den elegischen bis sperrigen Postrock der anderen drei Musiker. Hier tut sich somit ständig etwas im Hintergrund, es zwitschert, fiept, zischt und klimpert, dicht und farbig, immer leicht dissonant, fast schräg. Bisweilen arbeitet sich das Elektronik-Geräusch-Gewebe auch nach vorne, sorgt für seltsame, fast-industrielle Einlagen (man höre z.B. die Mitte des langen "Limpronta") und ergänzt das Klangeschehen um rhythmische elektronische Mustern.
Alles in allem gibt es auf "A Quiet Place" einen beeindruckenden, durch die prägnante Rolle von Violine und Elektronik ziemlich eigenen progressiven Postrock zu hören, der seltsam kristallin, fast karg aus den Boxen gleitet, sich dabei aber sehr farbig, intensiv und eindringlich durch die Gehörgänge arbeitet. Die zweite Hälfte von "Goose game" ist in seiner destillierten, sperrigen Schlichtheit das Magischste, was mir seit längerem unter die Ohren gekommen ist. Tolle Platte (die übrigens in einem sehr hübschen, von Uggeri gestalteten Mini-LP-Klappcover geliefert wird)!
Sergio Eletto, Sands-Zine
Paolo Bertoni, Blow Up
Marcello Consonni, Rockit
On its debut album A Quiet Place, Sparkle in Grey, which began in 2006 when founder Matteo Uggeri joined forces with Cristiano Lupo, Alberto Carozzi, and Franz Krostopovic, offers up six pieces ranging from long-form experimental excursions to sweet lullabies. The band's identity asserts itself halfway through the twelve-minute opener “Limpronta” when tremolo guitar and violin indulge in some appealing counterpoint. What follows suggests an instrumental post-rock hybrid of King Crimson (the Starless and Bible Black version that included David Cross) and Giardini Di Mirò. That A Quiet Place's material started out as improvisations is something clearly felt in the tracks' loose meander, which can in some moments feel a little too much like jamming. The band does manage to work a good amount of contrast into the six pieces: “Goose Game” intersperses spiky guitar rock with dub passages; “A Quiet Place” proves a showcase for Krostopovic's lovely violin playing (which possesses a slightly sour tone that makes it sound much more like a viola than violin); “Teacher Song” presents a melancholy interlude of tremolo guitar, glockenspiel, and violin; and “Pim in Delay” works a healthy dose of guitar rawness into its aggressive slow-burn. Sparkle in Grey updates its sound with electronic touches and occasional voice samples and field elements but, in essence, A Quiet Place argues that calling Sparkle in Grey an instrumental post-rock quartet isn't far off the mark.
Giovanni Linke, Mucchio
"Uno dei migliori dischi di post-rock sperimentale degli ultimi mesi... A Quiet Place: ancora, ancora e ancora."
Mingus Who, Normanrecords
First up this week is weird (but good wierd!) by
Sparkle in Grey:
A Quiet Place (Disaster By Choice) I've been trying really hard to get a handle on. The nearest thing I can think of by way of comparison is the collaboration CD: Lume Lume, led by Alexander Balanescu. In much the same way, this set combines lots of different forms of instrumentation and approaches to sound and music to create a free flowing entanglement of Morricone-esque soundtrack modes, jazz elements and micro-sound approaches. Overall, this collaboration, weaves in textures of contemporary electronica fused with the traditional elements of guitars and violins. In fact there's loads of violin throughout. Interpersed with some cut-up, spoken word interludes, the dynamic shifts from soundtrack style drifts to micro-textures through to motorik krautrock sounding pulses, veering occasionally to a near all-out rock assault. Reccomended if your tastes in music are eclectic.
Massimiliano Drommi, Muzik
In origine un progetto appannaggio del solo Matteo
Uggeri (Hue, Der Einzige); oggi gli Sparkle In Grey
Alessandro Biancalana, Onda Rock
Dopo quasi un anno dall’ultima uscita recensita dalle parti della Disaster By Choice (Comaneci), ritorniamo a commentare la nuova proposta proveniente da Roma: gli Sparkle In Grey. Il gruppo nasce nel 2006, quando il fondatore Matteo “Hue” Uggeri raccoglie professionisti del settore quali il polistrumentista Cristiano Lupo (componente anche dei Norm), Alberto Carozzi (presente nei Yakudoshi) indaffarato con basso e chitarra, e infine Franz Krostopovic, violinista dalla sensibilità inenarrabile. Capaci di intrecciare collaborazioni con figure eminenti dell’underground industriale quali Telepherique e Maurizio Bianchi (recente una loro prova discografica), gli Sparkle In Grey, attraverso il supporto di Giuseppe Ielasi che guida la produzione, registrano questo “A Quiet Place” che segna l’esordio dell’ennesima band italiana dal futuro quantomai interessante.
Roberto Mandolini, Rockerilla
[...] Le melodie che lo abitano sono melanconiche e uggiose ma spesso sono nascoste dietro muri di tormenti che catalizzano continuamente l'attenzione. Eppure tra detriti di ogni forma spuntano momenti di lirismo che bloccano il respiro in gola. 7
Vittore Baroni, Rumore
Già attivo discograficamente col progetto elettronico Hue, Matteo Uggeri ha da un paio di anni riunito attorno a sé alcuni musicisti di provenienza e interessi diversi: il polistrumentista Cristiano Lupo, il bassista Alberto Carozzi e il violinista Franz Krostopovic. Il primo dei sei strumentali raccolti nel promettente esordio del nuovo progetto, Limpronta, costituisce una sorta di dichiarazione d’intenti, con gli strumenti che entrano dopo lunga intro di nastri, rumori percussivi, microelettronica e drone, a comporre una canzone senza parole, quasi versione ingentilita e “mediterranea” di moduli post-rock. Rischiano meno le tracce successive, con echi folk e new wave melodicamente articolati tra lo sbarazzino (Goose Game) e il malinconico (Teacher Song, costruita attorno a una filastrocca di bimba), senza alzare mai il volume se non quando (nella finale Delusion Song) distorsioni e screziature noise si infiltrano tra i delicati carillon di chitarre shoegazing. “Una versione boy band dei Tuxedomoon”, suggerisce il gruppo, e in effetti basso volitivo e violino classicheggiante hanno molto in comune con Reininger & Co., ma l’analogia non va intesa in senso copiativo, giacché gli Sparkle in Grey già mostrano di possedere una poetica e personalità tutta loro.