Review: Carlo Giustini – Custodi (Lᴏɴᴛᴀɴᴏ Series, Oct 28)

Since the release of La Stanza di Fronte, Treviso sound artist and cassette tape lover Carlo Giustini’s debut album, on ACR at the beginning of last year, the young musician’s music has traveled along a clear trajectory. The spectral drones and use of fidelity/absence-as-sound that dominated that curious tape have remained steadfast elements in Giustini’s work, but as he progressed through various releases on labels such as Bad Cake, Purlieu, and No Rent the presence of melody and other more traditional ambient qualities have become increasingly prominent. Custodi, his second release on the Rohs! Records imprint Lontano Series, is perhaps the furthest removed from the ghostly abstractions of La Stanza di Fronte, for almost every track—excluding perhaps the best one, “La sala più a Nord”—has a clear harmonic backbone that weaves throughout the familiarly fuzzy field recordings and reverb-soaked ennui. Profoundly nostalgic, Custodi attempts to answer a particularly difficult question: “Is it possible to capture the sound of a state of being, of a memory, of a past sensation? Is there a possibility to translate [sic] a thought which once was into vibrational waves?” Magnetic tape, especially in cassette form, is often heavily associated with memory, from the murky sonic qualities of the medium itself to the things it frequently captures: thoughts, conversations, etc. But portraying the “sound of a state of being” is more complex than just replaying a concrete auditory keepsake, something Giustini obviously understands judging from his abstract approach. The three tracks on side A of the album are gorgeous meditations that make use of guitar and keyboard along with Walkman/microcassette recordings, and like last year’s Non Uscire there’s a soothing evocation of winter folded within the music’s dreamy drifts. But the essence of Custodi is best represented by the aforementioned “La sala più a Nord,” which combines deeply domestic recordings with soft environmental textures and is the only track that does not include musical instruments. Such a beautiful vignette perfectly communicates the incommunicable feeling of home, going about a routine in the comforting silence of your own dwelling, mundane moments whose significance isn’t known until they’re long gone.