ALBUM REVIEW: Stella Diana – ’41 61 93′

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With a rake of  new Shoegazing scenes popping up all around the globe it was only a matter of time before we heard what the Italian gazers could produce. From Rome to Milan, Modena to Palermo – powerful & hard hitting Italian ‘Nu-  Shoegaze’  bands are creating some of the best sonic sounds around, not only in Italy, but in my opinion, some of the best in Europe! Thats a pretty bold statement to make, you might say to yourself, upon reading this review, but I’ve found a stunning collection of tracks by a band that most of you reading this blog would only have heard glimpses of!  A band that I’ve been actively playing & promoting on my show ‘The Primal Radio Show’ for a long time.

‘Stella Diana’ hail from Naples, Italy. The band are made up of Dario Torre – Vox & Guitar, Giacomo Salzano – Bass, Davide Fusco – Drums & Roberto Amato – Guitar/Synth. Self declared Shoegaze and New Wave freaks since 1998, the band self released the immense ’41 61 93′ to the masses on 14th February 2014.

I’ve listened to ’41 61 93′ over and over again, and although my favourites keep changing with every listen, I’ve picked out two immense tracks that’ll hopefully showcase the quality of music that Stella Diana create.

Opening up with the massive ‘Isabeau’ as the first track on this amazing album, Stella Diana set out their Shoegaze stall from the very first Drum beat. With vocals recorded in their native tongue ( a feature for most of this album),  a rolling drumbeat, layered guitars and a hypnotic baseline, this track is immense. From its ‘Chapterhouse’ like effected guitars to its early 90’s drums, ‘Isabeau’ is well written and structurally sound. Its complex baseline keeps the track fixed to the earth while the guitars soar and lift this listener above the clouds and beyond. That early 90’s Shoegaze sound, that so many bands these days are trying to emulate, is there for most of the track but there are other influences in there too! For example, in the opening tracks quieter moments I can hear influential flurries in the mould of musical royalty –  ‘The Cure’.

Go check that out for yourselves:

 

My second pick ‘Navarre’ lures us into a false sense of security from the beginning. It’s a creeping monster of a track that starts off slow with sweet guitars and a stunning bass line all sitting on top of a solid beat. But don’t be fooled, the vocals arrive with ease and the journey begins. This track builds into a towering inferno with infectious, layered guitars that cut through the stunning bass frequencies with ease. What happens next is a piece of musical brilliance on the bands part as in comes a Saxophone to lead the line of attack and escort us out of this immense track with charm & style. Its a stroke of genius. It adds another dimension to the wall of hazy guitars, infectious drums and it also accompanies that stunning baseline too. It gives this listener something else to focus on! Superb! This is Italian Shoegazing at its very, very best and it could well be my favourite track on ’41 61 93′.

 

I am very impressed with the way in which Stella Diana compose and structure their tracks. I am also impressed by the way in which they are not afraid to experiment with their song structuring, for example, by adding a brass instrument to a gaze track, or the way in which they switch between the light & dark or fast & slow moments on this album without a care. This bands ability to slow down tracks, so that we can not only hear whats going on, but actually feel whats going on musically, is second to none! That alone is testament to their prowess as songwriters. You can hear every single note on this album. In my opinion, far to many bands these days try to wow us with their abilities as pedalboard musicians and forget about the finer points of songwriting in a genre of music that is, purposefully built to tell a story, wether sonically or through a songwriters ability as a wordsmith. You should be able to follow every single second of a song and feel what the songwriters feel and in turn find a common pact with them. Yes, Shoegazing should take your hand and fly you through a sonic wall of goodness, push the air from your lungs and musically caress your ear drums, but for me, it should also tell a story. Stella Diana create & tell sonically beautiful stories through the medium of song that I can follow with ease and for that, I commend them.

 

As you can probably guess, I am a Stella Diana fan, first and foremost, and a Dj second! Writing this review came very easy to me as music fan. Every single track on this album sent shivers down my spine and created musical images for me that will last and last and last. I dare you to listen to Isabeau, Navarre, 22-2-87, Edward Teach, 4.57, Ash, Regor, Dale Cooper, Motel Sagrera and then come back and tell me that they haven’t moved you in some way or another. They are all immense!

You can check out Stella Diana on Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp here.

Del Chaney – The Primal Radio Show – December 2104 – Dublin,  Ireland

 

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