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Suono Assente Jon Buckland , June 20th, 2023 08:28

A collaboration between Valentina Magaletti and Zongamin could be the score for a great long lost giallo, finds Jon Buckland

Suono Assente (the English translation of which is “I’m Absent”) is the first release under the V/Z moniker from Vanishing Twin bandmates Valentina Magaletti and Susumu Mukai (aka Zongamin). Veering away from the psychedelic pop of VT, V/Z leans more heavily on influences from hip-hop, dub, post-punk, electronica, and, at times, oozes a similar sensual energy to Lucretia Dalt’s magnificent ¡Ay!, throwing in increasingly inventive touchstones along the way.

The title track, for example, sounds like it’s been lifted from an Italian heist soundtrack. It wouldn’t have been out of place on last year’s excellent compilation, Piombo: Italian Crime Soundtracks From The Years Of Lead (1973–1981). And, keeping with the cinematic bent, ‘Caffe Giallo’, whilst not quite Goblin-scored, certainly contains a bottomless coffee pot of Italian terror. It’s a paranoid tussle between creeping dread and a spooky riff on DJ Shadow’s famous organ motif. Couple that with the ominously demanding “Drink from your cup” refrain and this cafe is serving up something quite unsettling.

Then there’s the hefty beats of ‘Bites’ which bump, scatter, and pan, providing a bruising platform for Coby Sey’s half-whispered delivery of vampiric allusions. The heavy gait a trudging weight amidst searing violin shreds. It’s not the staccato pomp of a stylised Dr Dre track. It’s much wilder than that, with panicked shrieks juxtaposing the cadence’s cool swagger.

Suono Assente is not all dark and brooding, however. ‘Candles’ (and, in turn, its dubby, chunkier sibling ‘Candles Version’) sounds like Julee Cruise evaporating over an acoustic cut from Dean Blunt’s Black Metal. The dreamy vocals floating across a surprisingly hefty blend of acoustic strums, motorik drums, and a lithe bass line. And ‘Plants No Virtues’ is a danceable meld of infectious rhythms and hip-grasping low end, encouraging a sway even when the meandering guitar loops back on itself, as if hunted by the delay-strewn feedback.

But it’s on track three – the heavenly soul-buffed ‘Habadash’ – that the album’s crowning moment arrives. Here Magaletti and Zongamin recruit fellow Vanishing Twin-er Cathy Lucas and her sanguine pipes to elevate a beat that, in different hands, might have been daubed with tales of dole queue narcotics and labelled as “munt”. When Lucas sings “Listen to the silence… turn it in your hand”, it’s an attempt to grasp the ineffable. Dragging a digit across effervescence and leaving a tiny mark on temporality. A flicker of certainty here. A glimpse of the beyond there.

Whilst its brief twenty-eight minute runtime flashes by, leaving us gasping for more, Suono Assente never feels rushed. Making the temporary existence of this transient brilliance feel even more exceptional. No sooner has its presence lifted us, than it’s vanished once more, leaving a gaping void that can only be filled by immediately circling back to the start and dropping the needle once more.