Claudio Milano is the man behind Nichelodeon, a theater-eqsue act making diverse and rich-sounding music, focused on creation of ambiances and particular atmospheres, ranging from the eerie to the highly emotional. Their first output has been the 2007 release appropriately named Cinemanemico, as the music has a cinematic characteristic to it (I reviewed it as well). 2010 sees the release of a studio album and a DVD of a live show at the Bloom club in Mezzago, Italy. The DVD performance consists of some of the band’s material re-interpreted as well as a soundtrack of the last episode of Twin Peaks to celebrate its 20 years anniversary (to be reviewed separately).
Review after the jumpIl Gioco Del Silenzio (The Game of Silence):
Nichelodeon’s music feels spontaneous, impulsive, coming straight from the “demented” and “tortured” mind of Claudio Milano. The sounds emanating from the speakers can be frightening and spooky while at other points they can be charming and embracing. But most of all, the music sounds like a real-time soundtrack of various experiences. Listening to the album, I felt I was travelling through Claudio’s mind, encountering all these strange sceneries, places and people.
The music is an odd but well-done mixture of abstract and tangible. While one can discern melodic lines, it is presented in a way such as to make believe it is planned, or in a blurred and hazy manner (adding to that is the fact that there are no drumming on the album). This comes back to the issue of spontaneity: that is, the music for the most part sounds intuitive and impulsive, at times unstructured. The songs for the most part feature Claudio’s emotive voice, a piano and various noises and other instruments adding their sound and vibes, all together creating chilling and expressive soundscapes, eerie sonic projections and nightmarish-sounding compositions (listen in particular to song 4, Malamore e la Luna). Listening on my headpones at night, I felt I was transferred from the coziness of my seat to the midst of a twisted and creepy setting. Not all songs are in this same vein however, but they all share a dreamy and abstract-like manner of expression to a varying degree. At times the songs can be chaotic and slightly disharmonic, such as on the wonderful track 10 of the album, Se.
Claudio’s voice is evocative, powerful, theatrical and emotional. It is at the foreground, leading the music and setting the tone. He switches from a rhythmic and structured style, which sounds evil in a way to a freer and demented-sounding vocal delivery.
However, to create these pieces of music and make them as strong as they are, he has assembled a large lineup of musicians playing all sorts of instruments, from acoustic (piano, flute, sax, percussions) to electric (guitars, synths and other noise making instruments) as well as field recordings. The production is clear and gives each instrument and voice the proper treatment and place in the mix.
If there ever was an album that needs full attention and headphone listening, this is it. Miss a beat (or a bit) and you can totally lose it and not be able to reconnect. This will not be an easy album to absorb and open up to, but a rewarding one, once you do.