22 Jan 2021 - Simon
Not so long ago, one-man bands consisted of one person playing a guitar walking around with a base drum strapped to their back whilst occasionally playing a harmonica which was attached to their heads. It was slightly amusing, yet some folk got very good at it, still, it was quite a niche thing. Anyhow, fast forward a few years and nowadays, with the advent of home recording and mixing software, a lot more people can get in on the act. Like most things, some are better than others. Unsurprisingly considering my laboured into, todays offering is a one-man multi-instrumentalist from Verrona, Italy who goes by the moniker Black Kalmar Skull with his latest album To All Whom I Loved.
Opening song Summer is a great introduction to the album. The first thing which strikes me is the jangly guitar tone, it’s very reminiscent of 90’s indie pop, think of the guitar tone in The La’s and you are not far off. The guitars skip along over a poppy drum beat which sounds like an intriguing mix of 90’s indie pop and Alcest at their lightest. The heartfelt lyrics match the mood of the song perfectly and its dreamy escapism is done to a fantastic degree.
Second song No One Else again has a dreamy shoegaze sound. The vocals are buried quite far into the mix but have an ethereal sound and the hook laden chorus takes the listener soaring away into the stratosphere.
Two Birds introduces some heavier elements into the mix which starts with a much heavier guitar part, but this soon morphs into the established catchy shoegaze sound from the first couple of songs. It’s a welcome variation and is well thought out and serves to highlight the melancholic vocals perfectly. Indeed, there are a few times these heavier elements crop up during the album and they are always fit the songs perfectly, the intro to the song ‘Straight Line’ is a great example of this. I like the fact he is not afraid to rock when it’s called for.
When it comes to the vocals, Matteo’s voice has a lovely soft crooning quality to it which matches the quality of the song writing very well indeed. After speaking to composer Matteo Iron himself about the album, he said “it is intended to convey positive emotions but at the same time be tinged with melancholy, like when you look back at memories”. He manages to convey those emotions with considerable aplomb on this album.
To sum up, this is a great album to listen to whilst wearing headphones gazing at the clouds and reminiscing about days gone by. Sure, it’s a little rough around the edges and the production could do with some tweaking but considering this is a one-man operation it’s bloody good. If you are in the mood for some dreamy rock which mixes various elements into a very cohesive whole then give this a go, you won’t be disappointed, very much recommended.