There is a moment, at this time of year, when you know snow is approaching. The sky darkens, the air dampens, then one or two flakes circle slowly to the ground. This is what The White Summer sounds like.
From Turin, Italy, Luca Bonandini’s The Illusion Of Science released its second album on Dec. 21, appropriately enough. Billed as “12 fragile instrumental compositions inspired by Nordic mythology, wintertime and loss,” it is an album of breathtaking gentleness.
Bonandini’s compositions are understated, if not quite minimalist. Which is not to say that this gentle touch limits his choice of instruments. Bonandini performs on piano, melodica, glockenspiel, recorder, bells, keyboards, sounds, bowed psaltery, flute, m’bira, tiny music machines, singing glasses and santoor. Partner Anna Dushkina adds viola and vocals.
There are ambient elements among the dozen pieces. The album’s title track is a lovely example. But it is a mistake to describe The White Summer as an ambient work with classical touches. It is the reverse.
Bonandini’s piano is the primary attraction, paired beautifully with Dushkina’s viola. “Lights from a northern town” and “The dream of the glass garden” are both splendid. Dushkina’s vocals on the latter are Meredith Monk-like in their imaginativeness.
The album closes with the warmest piece of all: “Goodbye winter.” We could do with a great deal more bird song – paired with Bonandini’s tiny music machines – at this time of year.