I have a clear memory of putting on These New Puritans’ latest album, Field of Reeds when it came out and not having a clue what to think. It was a pretty long listen through, and the only sound that stuck with me was the droning key notes and high pitched falsettos. It was dubbed “neoclassical”, and I’ve heard nothing like it before. I immediately wanted to hear more.
Luckily I was introduced to Andrea Remondini, the Italian synth-pop artist, who has released his full-length debut, Non Sequitur. It’s compiled of one long 44 minute track that revolves heavily around whirling synths and layered piano riffs. It’s an interesting concept, combining true classical music with the European dance-floor sound. Remondini walks a fine line the entire time, finding a balance between sounding innovative and sounding cheesy.
From the beginning, Remondini falls into the “cheesy” category, but quickly recovers at about the 5 minute mark. What Remondini does well is creating that epic sound many concept albums fail to produce. I’m brought back to a medieval theme every time the synth produces a choir track overtop the galloping pianos. It’s hard to nail down one influence Remondini has, as there’s tons of different levels to this monster piece, but I can’t get out of my mind Mike Oldfield’s 1973 album, Tubular Bells. It’s a great progressive rock album, and Remondini has taken the innovative and forward-thinking sound that Oldfield originated, along with King Crimson.
Even though this is more of a neoclassical, synth-pop album, there’s a progressive influence found in structure of the piece. It’s long, divided with multiple ages of noise packed into one, incredibly layered compilation of the musician’s art. Remondini uses the quiet sections to show how dynamically sound he is, breaking from a slow, steady pace that resembles a marching band, to an upbeat, DDR track. Sadly, that’s where Remondini fails.
What probably is fun to play sounds forced to the ear. His rock beat drums and back & forth piano licks that are frequently placed in the album bring me back to the flash games I used to play as a kid on my parents computer. It’s almost uncanny how identical some of these riffs are. Many might find these catchy and fun, but I could not shake for the life of me these nostalgic memories. In a way, that is a plus in itself. The title of the album fits perfectly, as sometimes I wonder where this piece is going, and for the most part it leads to a logical conclusion.
The riff that is found throughout the entire piece is perfectly timed. It’s found strictly in the slower sections of the album, and I really do think it’s a strong hook. Remondini knew that this was the selling point to this album, but I wish it opened the entire album. Having the knock off DDR riff open Non Sequitur only turned me off on a first run through. Listeners and fans should note that a sit through will be a rewarding listen. To make matters easier if one isn’t enjoying the upbeat sections, think back to the sounds of the arcade scene in Lost In Translation. I immediately felt better and found these parts very cheesy, and somewhat enjoyable. Luckily Andrea Remondini knows how to keep the album mostly innovative and not forced. I’m now stuck on where to go next to get my fix of neoclassical synth-pop.
Check out a clip from the full album below!