Having popped up out of almost nowhere in September of last year, Italian shoegazers La Casa Al Mare have released their debut EP. Titled ‘This Astro’, the EP features four tracks that have previously been released online as well as bringing with it three previously unheard tracks (one of which only appears on the physical release).
Hailing from Rome, the three piece is made up of Paolo Miceli on drums, formally of Sea Dweller and My Violent Ego, Marco Poloni on bass, former member of La Calle Mojada and Alessio Pindinelli on guitar and vocals. I’m sure this prior experience that two thirds of the band hold goes a way to explain how La Casa Al Mare have been able to make their first EP such a strong debut release.
RELEASE DATE: 01 May 2015 LABEL: Self-released
The album kicks off with one of the bands previously unreleased tracks, ‘I Don’t Want To’, and it doesn’t hold back at all. Blasting in with the classic effect-laden guitar, pounding drums and heavily altered vocals, everything in the song comes together in a beautiful whirlwind of noisy brilliance. They’ve done something very special with the opening track that takes me back to my very first experience of shoegaze with that exciting confusion of what is going on and the anticipation of what is to come.
‘Sunflowers’ is what comes, one of the previous Internet releases, and it brings with it yet more of the excitement and joy that shoegaze can create, this time in a more uplifting and light package. ‘ Sunflowers’ also gives an excellent example of how strong Pindinalli’s vocals are throughout the album. It gives a real good look at how much of a difference the texture of the voice makes when contrasting with the guitars, with the vocal softness being juxtaposed wonderfully with the instruments that bring a harsher angular sound to everything.
‘M’, another of the previously released tracks, follows. For me ‘M’ is one of the strongest tracks on the EP, it slows things down slightly but blasts in immediately, a vortex of swelling and ebbing guitars break out, circling the vocals that sit comfortably and assured in the middle of all the noisy lush instrumentation that crashes out around it. It’s one of those songs that just fills every small space in your head and holds nothing back. ‘M’ is an epic sounding track that simply plays with your ears and head perfectly and takes it’s place as one of the best shoegaze songs I’ve heard.
The second new track is ‘At All’, a much lighter and upbeat song than those that have come before; the vocal harmonies play out more prominently and take a precedence, bringing a happier sound to proceedings and also going a good way to move the track further along into the indie spectrum than anything else.
‘CD Girl’ is the last of the previously released tracks having originally come out alongside ‘M’. It is another blinder of a song that just radiates a lush atmosphere and it is this song that marks the end of the download release of the EP. The repeating guitar and bass motifs work alongside the dreamy and ethereal vocals excellently all the while backed by a wash of guitar and drums that set the perfect backdrop for them.
Title track ‘This Astro’ brings the EP to an end for those who get the physical release and it is definitely the most experimental track on the record, bringing everything to a close in a wonderful way. ‘This Astro’ is a five-minute instrumental piece in which everything seems to have been given a bit of freedom to play around and just see what they can do. Reverbing guitars clash and play off each other as the bass guitar roams around freely with drum rolls and frills beating out. There are times of dissonance between everything as they fight amongst themselves and then times of pure harmony where it all clicks together and works perfectly. It’s an excellent end to the EP that shows how far this band can go and how much more there is to come, and it definitely leaves you needing more.
You can’t really listen to La Casa Al Mare without mentioning the quintessential shoegaze bands of the past, especially My Bloody Valentine. It is easy to hear the definite inspiration that they must have brought to the band, but their ability to avoid sounding like an exact carbon copy is what, in my eyes, makes this such a huge accolade and achievement. What is important and noticeable as you listen is that they haven’t copied they’ve been inspired. There are moments of knowledge of the past and of remembrance to the innovators and from this La Casa Al Mare have created an EP that has taken in that early 90s ideal and out of it they have made something that sounds modern and fresh.
It is an excellent release for new comers of the band such as myself, with it presenting everything that the band has released so far. Those who are aware of the band’s prior output may be slightly disappointed that there is only three new tracks, but those tracks are definite reason for those who are already familiar with them to get involved too, especially the experimental title track on the CD release.
‘This Astro’ proves to be a truly astounding listening experience and is an astonishing first release for the band. I found it to be one of those records that gives an almost visual listening experience, as every sound plays out in front of your eyes with an almost physical three dimensional depth to every song for you to explore and move around. What guys from La Casa Al Mare have achieved with this debut EP is shoegaze perfection. ‘This Astro’ is a real triumph in the genre; a noisy, effect-laden triumph and I can’t wait to see what the lads have in store for the future.