ARTIST: Stella Diana
RELEASE: Nitocris LP
RELEASE DATE: 29/04/16
RECORD COMPANY: Vipchoyo Sound Factory
Back at the end of 2014 I was presenting an online radio show covering shoegaze and its many sub-genres when I came across a fantastic little Italian based band who fused a plethora of musical genres together to create something rather special. This collective of Neapolitan based musicians melded together a heady brew of driving post-punk, melodic dream-pop and hazy shoegaze to produce musical soundscapes so mesmerising that they literally took my breath away. Stella Diana optimise everything that is great with the underground Italian shoegazing scene and they have been steadily building up a massive worldwide fan base every since those early radio show days. Now the band have returned with a blistering full length follow up to 2015’s stunning five track EP ‘Alhena’ via Vipchoyo Sound Factory Records. This new album is called ‘Nitocris’ and it is another positive step in the evolution of a band who may be involved in this reinvented shoegazing scene right now, but who also have the ability to stand out on their own ‘musically’ as we spin into the sonic unknown.
The album opens up with ‘Sofia’. Shimmering guitar lines usher in the atmospheric synth swells as the track pushes ripples into the sonic waves around it. It shuffles on a sold bed of percussion as it builds into a wall beautifully golden intensity. Vocally sublime, it unleashes a layered wall of reverberating brilliance and announces the return of a band on the cusp of greatness. Track two, ‘M.9’ is musically reminiscent of ‘Slowdive’ with its emotive walls of reverb until that impressive vocal line adds a subtle injection of brilliant post-punk. It explodes into its chorus progressions with aplomb intertwining with that melodic bass line that adds addictiveness into proceedings. Thoroughly enjoyable. Up next the dark and brooding ‘F.u. Orionis’ musically screams early ‘Cure’ at me as it works through its sonic gears, skulking like a sullen love sick teenager before its soaring chorus parts usher in Stella Diana of old. This is modern day post-gazing at its very, very best and possibly my favourite track on this entire release.
Swirling, droning frequencies circumnavigate that tremulous guitar structure as whispering vocals stream into audible range. Like some sort of modern day Sci-Fi soundtrack the shuffling percussion and throbbing baseline of ‘Sulpher’ carries that impressive vocal like a sonic chariot ambling into battle. This is a beautifully atmospheric track that heaps layer upon layer of sonic frequencies on top of each other to create a blissful wall of golden hued sound. Up next, ‘Aphrodia’ is reminiscent of ‘Drive Blind’ era RIDE with its heavy bass frequencies & shuffling drum patterns coupled with those fuzzy guitars and that barely audible vocal progression. Its only when the synth swells arrive that you get intense attack on your senses and you begin to hear everything in brilliant sonic technicolor. Track six begins with a stunning baseline! ‘Psychedelic Furs’ is stuffed to the brim with melody. This for me is the that ‘Next Step’ in a bands evolution that I previously spoke about! ‘Psychedelic Furs’ is a completely new side to Stella Diana. It’s song structuring and every single instrument swirling within it is geared towards melody, with the studio gadgetry shaved back and the fuzzy guitars withheld Stella Diana are free to express themselves in a whole new light. It’s a brilliantly written track and worthy of your ears.
Up next is the first single to be lifted from the album. ‘Dedu’n’ is a bass driven atmospheric monolith that skips through multiple layers of reverberating guitar frequencies with aplomb. It’s pounding drum patterns and subtle synth swells carry the entire track as the vocal hangs in a haze of suspended animation and is laid bare for all to hear. The albums penultimate track is called ‘Aya Ray’. A beautifully melodic and thoroughly addictive bass line is this tracks centre piece as all around it shimmers and meanders through intense layers of fuzzy reverberating guitars. Again, the vocals are impressive and the drum track grounds the entire piece as the track skips through an apocalyptic post-punk world, littered with the bones of past shoegazing stalwarts! The albums closer builds from its very first notes. ‘J. Carpenter’ has obvious cinematic connotations as it heaves and lurches through its reverberating layers of hazy atmosphere. There’s an air of post-rock emanating from it too, as instrumentally it swirls around that brilliant vocal sample and carries on into its stunning finale. A fitting end to a game changing album!
Bravo, Stella Diana!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last three years not only fronting popular Irish Electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the Unsigned or Small Independent Label based Shoegaze, DreamPop, PostPunk, PostRock & PsychRock genre’s of music from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog – The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. His other arm – Primal Radio – has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has hepled him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.