Prior to 2021, Italian soundmaker and curator Ezio Piermattei was just on the cusp of becoming one of my favorite artists, but with only a handful of releases since 2015 it wasn’t a classification I could yet bestow with confidence, even though short sputtering curios like Turismo dentale and Holo Orbita were already some of the best “music” I’d ever heard. His newest work, however, is nothing if not a tipping point that cements Piermattei’s recent creative direction, and his recording career in general, as something truly great. Continuing in the vein of the clearly recorded conversations, mundanities, and abstract narratives rolled into enigmatic bricolage that was first explored on Tre madri ludopatiche and honed to a sublime focus with Gran trotto, From Afar It Looks Like an Oriflamme is something more still: a liminal odyssey along the tightrope strung between unexpectedly ambiguous designations of “inside” and “outside”; a finely crafted barrage of muck, mystery, memory; the sonic equivalent of a haggard travel journal stuffed full of musings and drawings and findings, ephemeral in their inconsequence yet ineffable in their tangibility. Piermattei’s own words and voice (I think) are a somewhat significant presence, emerging between episodes of shake, rattle, and stroll to clumsily inject elements both sentimental and surreal: “in my… sometimes like that… purse in my… brain…. And, uh… and sometimes they remind me of my youth…. She used to slap… me… too much. I do not like to be slapped. That’s why… I like… it raw. I like it raw. (Don’t laugh at me).” Oriflamme is a near-flawless distillation of the artist’s ability to tell an enthralling story without really telling any story at all.