Banjo Or Freakout is Alessio Natalizia. He’s one half of electronic duo Walls, an electronic pair signed to Kompakt who released an eponymous debut LP just last year. It was a record dense with atmospheric soundcapes and propulsive rhythms. Natalizia’s solo project is wholly less so.
Essentially a bedroom dream-pop album, Banjo Or Freakout has a definite lo-fi feel and sound. Opening with ‘105’ it’s all very hazy and inviting, a sun-drenched piece of acoustic folk pop. Track two ‘Go Ahead’ is a lilting blissed-out slow burner – a repeated drowsy guitar riff, foggy vocals and swelling synth horns. Track three, well everything just starts to drift.
Banjo Or Freakout isn’t short of ideas or melodies, quite the opposite in fact. The album is full of compelling minute patterns, gorgeous guitar sounds, shimmering cymbals, electronic flourishes and sleepy melodies. However, where an ambient record would reiterate these moments entrancing the listener, Banjo or Freakout’s intricacies just form, morph into something else and peter off aimlessly.
The main problem with this recording are the arrangements and Natalizia’s are linear, extending too many songs past the point of interest rendering them unmemorable.
It does pick up near the end again with ‘Black Scrathes’, a chiming slice of shoegaze, but it’s ‘Dear Me’ that promises to be the most engaging track on the album with a spaced-out psych rock groove before dissipating off into some kind of wistful ether.
In a sea of DIY pop, unmemorable means quickly forgotten. Porcelain Raft, Mauro Remiddi, is also an Italian in London and his music isn’t hugely different to Banjo Or Freakout. However his releases so far have a more focused sound – more condensed with tighter arrangements. Maybe they know each other. Maybe they should be introduced. Banjo Or Freakout? More of each please.