TRACK PREMIERE: JOHN CARROLL KIRBY “SANT’ANNA”
John Carroll Kirby‘s last album Travel was a trip around the world: “synth-driven exotica that sounds like library music from some other hazy, fleeting reality,” said our review. But his coming Tuscany is a deep exploration of a single place, and of the unexpected experiences that come when you just go where the roads take you. Unlike Travel, Tuscany is two side-long solo piano tracks: A-side “Cascata di Malbacco” and the stark second side “Sant’Anna,” dedicated to the memory of the massacre in 1944 when Nazi SS troops killed more than 500 civilians and razed the mountain village of Sant’Anna. (Two officers and eleven enlisted men would eventually be convicted of committing war crimes, most in 2005.) The attack started with a flare fired just after 6 AM, an image that signals the interplay between light and dark in this deliberate and contemplative track. While “Cascata di Malbacco” unrolls waves of melody, “Sant’Anna” is submerged in its lower register, offering only moments of air and respite that sink as quickly as they rise. (Messiaen’s “Quartet For The End Of Time” comes from a place much further along this path.) Kirby explains:
“When I was in Italy I was taking daily bike rides to explore the countryside. On one of those rides I quite accidentally stumbled upon the site of a WWII massacre at Sant’Anna di Stazzema, which was pretty weird and dark and unsettling. I’d already written ‘Cascata di Malbacco’—the A side—at this point, but started playing around with the same bassline with more somber, sober melodies, in an attempt to channel some of the atmosphere I felt at the site and offer a flip side—literally!—to the A-side’s more uplifting tone.”
Tuscany is out October 28 on vinyl and digitally via the Patience label—get it here. Kirby will perform at the Ambient Goodbye show for San Francisco’s Jackie House this Friday if you’re in the Bay Area—more info here.