If you’re not yet familiar with the work of Australian artist Galliano Sommavilla, you’ve got some catching up to do. We’ve had the pleasure of reviewing quite the number of works from Galliano (you can check them out here), and he’s cemented his position as one of our all-time favorite instrumental composers.
Today’s project is a unique one – Galliano is re-releasing an album of his that originally premiered in 2013. The album, titled Welcome to My Side of the World, has had a “tune-up” in his words, this year. He also tells us the cover art for this album is a picture of his father’s house in Belluno, Italy, where he lived before emigrating to Australia, and that the title of the album is in reference to it. We recently reviewed single The Homecoming, released in a similar fashion off of this album, but now we have the pleasure of taking a listen to the remaining 13 tracks.
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
The album opens with Run Like the Wind, and it’s full of trademark Galliano elements – soaring, dramatic tones, intricate and memorable melodies, and a wide selection of instrumentation that help to paint the complex images suggested by his songs. The bright, bouncing synths beneath the gentle piano melody, followed by the addition of percussion and the swelling of strings effortlessly create the feeling of soaring in open air. The progression through both darker and brighter sections as the song moves along evokes the thoughts of spiraling decent followed by a triumphant ascension.
Hot Pot has a bright and sunny disposition, starting with a cavalier attitude and gentle, flowing demeanor, though not without energy altogether. The melody that breaks in at 1:35 is particularly entrancing, more dynamic and expressive than the primary melodic phrase, adding a layer of lightness that suits the track perfectly. But it’s just the one brief section that features this particular melody, like a particularly bright ray of sun on an already beautiful day, as the track returns to the familiar melody afterwards. The gentle rise and fall is subtle, and thoroughly enjoyable.
Opening Instrumental Conversation is a jaw-droppingly gorgeous string arrangement. Ebbing and flowing like the tide of the sea, a lower-voiced instrument slipping in to take the lead, pulling the listner along through sounds that both invite a touch of sorrow and a touch of hopefulness. But as the song progresses, the meaning of the title becomes clear, as a saxophone appears around the halfway point as dramatically as the strings did in the beginning, creating a bit of a call-and-response with the original melody – it does in fact feel like these instruments have a bit of a conversation throughout the song.
The Final Frontier does an impressive job of eluding to outer space without becoming too overly spacey in execution. Rather, the intro is a touch unsettling – nearly a cacauphony of various sounds that do fit together, but not too well. It creates a feeling of both subtle unease and mystery. Instead of being on-the-nose in the alusion to the subject matter of the track, it instead plays off the feelings one might have while venturing into uncharted territory. The addition of the more modern beat at 0:47 actually plays to the theme, giving it a bit of a futuristic feel in combination with some of the synths that join in further down the line.
The album closes with Christmas Day, and as you might expect, it isn’t solely just on-the-nose holiday music despite the definitive Christmas flair at times. Rather, it captures the upbeat, joyful feeling that’s omnipresent on such a holiday. It’s easy to picture yourself celebrating with your family to the tune of this song – happy memories brought to mind as soon as the bells start ringing, another one of Galliano’s true skills. He manages to evoke the feelings of something specific, and then let the listener fill in the gaps within their own mind.
OUR FAVORITE TRACK…
When reading the title Cowboy Gal, one might make assumptions about the tones and instruments that might be used in a track with such a name – acoustic guitar, or fiddle perhaps? But we should have known that Galliano would take a completely different approach to illustrating the title, instead using flute-like tones and southwestern melodies to evoke images of an evening horseback ride through a sprawling desert. This is the song our hero and heroine of the old western that’s brought to mind ride off into the sunset to. The inclusion of the female vocal oohs is a lovely one – it adds a haunting overtone to the track, like a wolf howling at the moon. It’s tracks like these that practically paint full-on movies in the listners’ mind with nothing but a two-word title and the music to guide you there that are the pinnacle of what Galliano is able to do with sound. It’s no easy task, but in listening to this song (or any on this album, really), you’d never know it.
We could have just as easily written about all 14 of the songs on this album, but this article would have instead become a dissertation. To sum it up as best we can – each of these songs is a cinematic masterpiece for the ears, and though we would expect no less from Galliano Sommavilla, he never ceases to amaze and enthrall us with the many ways he can manipulate sound. Anyone with even the smallest appreciation for music will be able to see the definitive skill on display in Welcome to My Side of the World. Do yourself – your mind, your ears, and your soul – a favor, and carve out some time to listen to some of the work Galliano has shared with the world. You’ll be glad you did.
BELOW: Listen to Welcome to My Side of The World and connect with his website and social media platforms. Please support Galliano Sommavilla by visiting him online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing his music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
(Want to have your music reviewed on The Ark of Music? Click HERE.)