Holiness has a approach of creeping into surprising areas. Caterina Barbieri’s Spirit Exit, her first foray on light-years, the label she based after 2017’s lauded Patterns of Consciousness, is proof that the identical spirit that takes maintain of you in a basement membership may also attain contained in the partitions of a locked condo whereas a virus ravages town exterior. In Barbieri’s case, the house was Milan, the time 2020, and the synth virtuoso’s newest venture is an aptly named portal between chaos and transcendence.
Uncertainty lets the sunshine in, and the Italian composer’s music, created on a customized modular synth that she thinks of “extra like a mechanical fortune teller,” is incandescent with discovery. The songs are an surprising however devoted reflection of a world gone haywire: one half prayer, one half screaming on the void. Layer by layer, Spirit Exit unfolds odd-couple pairings of electronica with components impressed by minimalism, classical guitar, and machine studying. Her influences are as bracing because the songs themselves: St. Teresa d’Avila’s Sixteenth-century mysticism, post-humanist philosophy, and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Listening to those sprawling, ecstatic compositions appears like pulling again an limitless sequence of curtains—notably on standout “Canticle of Cryo,” a seven-and-a-half-minute odyssey of excessive, plaintive vocals and arpeggios stabbed with rumbling bass notes.
As on earlier compositions (like 2017’s wonderful “TCCTF”), Spirit Exit is wealthy in gradual builds and intense, polyphonic soundscapes that really feel intimate regardless of their eeriness. However right here, Barbieri trades size for depth, crafting eight arresting tracks which are extra pointed and purposeful than up to now. “Damaged Melody” is the shortest, at 4:26, and proves a visceral, fanged testomony to how shortly these compositions can seduce. At its middle is a melody which may’ve been borrowed from a medieval canticle, but it surely’s the feel she drapes over this basis that imbues the track with its uncanny energy—layers of fuzz and Auto-Tuned harmonies, mechanical notes pinging within the background. “Even should you’re gone, I’ll hang-out you,” she opens, excessive and reverberating, like a voice emanating from a cave.
Spirit Exit displays refined however essential adjustments to Barbieri’s songwriting course of, which she amended to suit the constraints of the pandemic. The place earlier tracks took form in live performance halls and throughout excursions, iterated and refined in neighborhood, she created this document in her dwelling studio over a two-month interval. The ensuing album is taut and heightened, as charming as her earlier work however extra condensed. The songs are an attractive mental puzzle, however they’re additionally incantatory and delightful of their simplicity.