Stendeck is the alter-ego of Swiss-born Alessandro Zampieri who’s been using the alias for nearly a decade now. Sonnambula (sleepwalker in Italian) is his fourth LP. It’s a lengthy collection, but only one of the tracks breaches the five minute mark. Most, however, are epic in feel if not in duration.
Zampieri takes the lush, euphoric synth sounds found in trance and progressive house and fuses them with grimy breakbeats that owe much to both early nineties jungle and the body-slamming antics of industrial acts like Front 242. The combination of brute force and vibrant sound colours doesn’t always work – the gleaming synth work and the distorted beats sometimes feels too much of an alien juxtaposition.
The tracks that work best are those where there isn’t too much of a clash. The relatively downtempo “Admira and Bosko”, for example, is beatless, relying on a piano arpeggio to set the rhythm. “Hunters of the Last Summer Breeze” is an ambient interlude that brings to mind Brian Eno’s glorious “Ascent (an Ending)”. “Blind Army Parade” has beats, but these are less frenetic. It’s a highlight, with a throbbing sub-bass and a synth melody that conjours up the likes of the Black Dog.
It’s not just the more ambient pieces that work, though. “Something Special is Going to Happen” sounds like Paul Van Dyk remixed by Dälek, but blends the two to good effect. The title track’s use of feedback, distortion and drone is also exceptional.
The criticisms are minor, but sometimes the fit between the symphonic melodies and the grinding rhythms is awkward. “Every Time I Try to Reach You” has a beautiful baroque feel, but seems ill-served by its grimy hip hop rhythm. Ultimately, there’s no denying that Sonnambula is an enjoyable listen. It’s more dancefloor friendly than the likes of Ulrich Schnauss (whose unashamed romanticism it echoes), but more edgy and experimental than even the more forward-looking trance acts like Brian Transeau and the aforementioned PVD.
1 Something Special Is Going To Happen (4:29)
2 Through Tiny Windows We Wonder Constellations (4:43)
3 Lullabies From The Cliff By The Raging Sea (4:22)
4 It Must Be Heaven (4:03)
5 Admira And Bosko (Love During The Time Of War) (3:21)
6 Blind Army Parade (4:57)
7 Dead Dancing Triangle (3:39)
8 Lunar Attraction (5:14)
9 Every Time I Try To Reach You, You Just Fade Away (3:12)
10 Hunters Of The Last Summer Breeze (4:06)
11 Different Exotic Forms Of Lightning And Collateral Atmospheric Phenomena (4:36)
12 Safari In The Blue Tails Cockatoo’s Garden (4:16)
13 Broken Hearts Carillon (3:47)
14 Happy Little Children Playing On The Cherry Tree (2:52)
15 I Fear All The Moments You Will Need Me And I Won’t Be There (4:06)
16 An Autumnal Afternoon In The Family’s House (4:38)
17 Sonnambula (Don’t Worry It’s Just A Dream) (4:41)
This review also appears on the [SIC] Magazine website.