Album Review Banjo Or Freakout - Banjo Or Freakout

Filled with promise that has a way to go before it is fulfilled.

Noise pop seems to be all the rage these days, if recent indications are anything to go by, but the one thing that saves the genre from becoming overpopulated is the fact that there are many different approaches to take with it. Alessio Natalizia’s idea was to immerse himself in repetitive soundscapes, take melodies and push them as far as they could go, and then past breaking point. His music touches on shoegaze and wears its influences on its sleeve (there are many tracks here that could pass for something off Deerhunter’s ‘Halcyon Digest’). He’s a little late to the party, but this doesn’t mean his debut album under the Banjo Or Freakout moniker can’t be, well, fully enjoyed.

That was a pun on one of the track titles for those of you who weren’t keeping up; the song itself, coming smack-bang in the middle of the record, establishes itself as one of the record’s highlights quite quickly, an intriguing mix of skittering percussion and buzzing guitar lines. The hazy artwork that accompanies the album does a passable job of what lies within: this is an album heavy on atmosphere, yet also the sort that could be used as background music. That is to say, it is quite pleasant even when it’s not being given full attention: it is when it’s listened to in isolation that it reveals itself as something spellbinding.

There is something uniquely captivating about songs like recent single ‘Go Ahead’ and the six-minute penultimate track ‘Dear Me’, which finds Mr. Natalizia throwing some Krautrock into the mix. Repetition, repetition, repetition - this, on the whole, is his modus operandi, and it works quite a lot of the time. There are no weak links or moments which falter, yet neither does ‘Banjo Or Freakout’ do anything to really seize the listener’s attention. There’s a sense that if this were achieved, that if the immediacy of ‘105’ or ‘Can’t Be Mad For Nothing’ became the focus of his sound, his work would be something genuinely special. As it is, though, the debut is filled with promise that has a way to go before it is fulfilled.