(HB Recordings, out now on CD, vinyl and MP3)
“Everyone is screaming and we don’t want to be scream to be heard”, are the words direct from the horsemouth of Italian three-piece Ofeliadorme, who have gone for a quieter, less ostentatious but no less effective method of commanding attention. Combining shoegaze with ambient new wave and a generous dollop of alt-pop, the band’s third full length album Secret Fires takes inspiration from the subtlety of the natural world to reveal hidden depths of its own.
The eight track duration of the album is apparently a nod to the atomic number of oxygen – a vital component of our existence which we consume incessantly without even being conscious of the act. It’s this unspoken but unbreakable relationship between mankind and nature which provides the font for Ofeliadorme’s material, creating a sound that is both synthetic and all-too-natural.
Francesca Bono’s vocals are the most immediately striking aspect of the band’s music, with her voice falling somewhere between a less sugary Goldfrapp and a softer PJ Harvey. The hooks in her choral repetitions are nowhere more noticeable than on Body Prayer, My Soldiers and Visions, which comprise the trio of stand-out tracks on the record.
That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of other moments of magic elsewhere, however. The musical harmony between Michele Postpischl’s percussion and Tato Izzia’s synth wizardry is flawless and polished throughout, by turns creating jagged waves of noise and shallow whirlpools of sound which variously assault and massage the listener’s senses. Closer Hairbrushing provides a microcosm of the album in full, featuring gently playing keys backed by a harsher wall of electronica, with the whole stramash honeyed over with Bono’s comforting vocals.
Already a firmly established entity in their native Italy, the band’s third release should see their conquest of Europe continue. For fans of ambient music, electronic pop and female frontmen (frontwomen?), Ofeliadorme are well worth a look.