[sic] Magazine

Adele H – Civilization

There must be something in the San Pellegrino as Italy’s been turning out some pretty decent tunes these last couple of years. Mushy, Sonic Jesus, His Clancyness, Havah, His Electro Blues Voice, Estasy, Throw Down Bones, In Zaire and Porcelain Raft all spring to mind (apologies to all those we’re currently forgetting), but the one that most comes to mind when listening to Adele “Pappalardo” H’s debut, Civilization, is that Babau EP we covered a while back. She’s perhaps more of traditional songwriter than the crazy fellas in that pan-global psyche ensemble, but only just.

Using only her voice, loops and percussion that includes a Brazilian tambourine and rain-stick, she paints rhythmic tableaux that pulse deeply with history. Interwoven in the fabric is her astonishing vocal, a super-soulful and sighing coo that glides around the album’s peaks like some serene bird riding thermal up-currents. Reverbed in isolation, it’s such a powerful tool that it’s often deployed in nothing more than multi-tracked a cappella to stunning effect. The result is in some ways millennia old and in others cutting edge, a notion emphasised by the album’s conception on the Cistella Mountain in Italy, its evolution while backpacking along the U.S. West Coast and an ultimate denouement when Pappalardo then re-joined the Civic Choir in Milan.

There are consequently fragments of artists like Julianna Barwick and tUnE-yArDs to be found in the hypnotic, swooping loops and undulating drum patterns, Psychic Sounds label owner Grant Corum contributing too in places such as “Primordial Sound”, its throbbing, shuffling percussion as prehistoric as its title, Pappalardo’s vocal almost impossibly fragile, ice crystals staring down an impending sunrise. Sounding not unlike Corum’s own Million Brazilians project, the out-there “Sun Walker” feels in turn like pushing the vines back to a world of panpipe winds and fly-drone, oppressive humidity causing sweat to drip down your back as you come across ancient ruins, a sun-bleached human skull staring back at you from the gloom. Civilization is an album about sacrifice in both its sense, both personal and humanity-wide as well. At just what price will tomorrow come?

Best track: “Once A Day”

~Civilization is out now digitally and a vinyl edition via the collaborative efforts of Psychic Sounds and Obsolete Recordings will ship May 1st 2017.~