Andrea Ferlin – Almost EP [SIC]
Berlin-based imprint Sleep Is Commercial recently dropped the latest addition to their Limited release series. The three-track EP comes from Italian born Andrea Ferlin (real name Andrea Cruccu). Having originated as a teen disc jockey working the circuit in Sardinia during the late 80s, Ferlin then turned his hand to producing during the mid-2000s, where only a handful of years later he began to contribute as one of Sleep Is Commercial’s very first artists and originating members.
The label has been around since 2009 and has steadily evolved into an all-arts collective, providing a platform for music, fashion, art, and photography. Three years on heralded a move to expand globally, touring Europe and Asia and building upon the imprint’s core interests in music and events. More than simply an outlet for releasing music, the collective truly embody a life-style, where art, experience, and interaction is integrated; this is reflected in the founding of an intimate annual festival in Sardinia as well as their everyday practice of drawing on collective energies to create and share, striving to connect people who are passionate about art and music through their regular events in Berlin.
Ferlin’s sound can be described as cool, deep, and sophisticated. His prior experience working through House music’s golden days really shines through in his production work and has become a defining feature of his musical voice. A taste of Balearic drums frequents his grooves (such as his remix of ‘You Call Me’) and in tracks like ‘Locked In The Park’ (SIC002) we can feel a strong sense of post-acid deep house that permeates his overall style. He manages to capture the indolence of lounging ambient, and combine it with deep, atmospheric minimal, often calling upon rich melodic material to drive and characterise his music. With such slick cuts as his remix of Arruda‘s ‘Nice Guy’ and amazing jazz-tech roller ‘Storm Of Breath’ (the flip-side to ‘Locked In The Park’), Ferlin has solidified himself as a hugely capable producer who has honed a distinctive sound that many others have failed to achieve.
Ferlin’s latest EP, entitled ‘Almost’ (SICLTD007), is no exception. This sort of music demands a passive, yet simultaneously acute attention and a willingness to let go. If you fight it, it does not work. Once the listener embraces this journey, and confides in the guidance of their narrator, suddenly magic begins to happen and the experience becomes immersive and almost hypnotic. This mythical quality is something of the liminal spaces found in minimal music, whereby space is re-contextualised to create new and constantly morphing realities.
Ferlin’s penchant for interesting sound design lays evident from the outset. The A-Side opens with a vivid creaking field recording, warped and twisted, somewhat uncomfortable and abrasive. Before it gets too harsh a solitary woodblock comes to greet us with a limited ensemble of a brittle hat and a low kick. Ferlin constructs an atmospheric backdrop for which minor synth chords appear, resting in the haze of dusk. The snare joins us shortly after, solidifying the groove, preparing us for the mysterious flute hook that enters circa three minutes. The track’s various components ferment under the diminishing heat of the afternoon sun, delayed chimes and low end hits envelope us in an otherworldly ambience, while the lonesome flute melody wanders deeper into the night, its probing dialogue forlorn and despairing. The track’s unrest is further agitated by the flute’s rasping flutter-tonguing and the added tension of low dissonant chords in the organ, changing subtly under the top-end movement. Picking up in energy, the track moves forward into the next section with the toll of a bell resonates into the sparse texture, leading us deeper with the alluring curiosity of the nocturnal forest; added percussion lines come to the front of the mix while Ferlin introduces rhythmic elaborations in the hats and we see a reference to the opening creaking motif that opened the track. Just past the half-way mark we hear a human voice muttering incomprehensibly in the undergrowth, a monologue of self-absorbed mid-night inquiry, lost in the folds of consciousness and questioned reality.
The track trundles forward, with added textural embellishments and rhythmic fills; the shifting shapes of the night slide under the dim light like flitting thoughts and the viral contagion of mild paranoia. We experience a flashback as the introductory section reappears, yet re-contextualised within the developed ensemble and texture; the flute hisses into the thick night air while the opening wood block returns. Incredibly atmospheric, Ferlin compounds on the thematic points that underpin this whole EP, using silence as a canvass to create points of depth and space. The later half of this track is simply magical (though it is important to remember that the minutes that precede it contribute to and define our progressive experience of the music), where Ferlin’s competence for evoking suspenseful tensions is artfully represented here. The last few minutes are especially impressive, as the shimmering textures and ethereal voices affirm to us that there are invisible, unknown powers at work here…
Clocking in at a healthy seventeen minutes, this one is perfect for zoning out to. Let it transport you.
The B-side, Ion Ludwig‘s ‘Sicko’s SpiralSpirit Science Remix Take O’, is a subtle take on the original, but opens more immediately with the early presence of the kick and percussion. While the track is a great piece of minimal in its own right, there is some wishing for a slightly more imaginative take on Ferlin’s original. However, the track takes on more of a deep-house feel as Ludwig incorporates a bass-line and firmer dance-floor ready vibes, organising the original material methodically into something less cinematic but more suited for the club. The form and structure is solid, but safe, and where the trade off lies is within the comfort of Ludwig’s self-constructed paradigm.
Albeit, the B-side’s greatness can be found in Ludwig‘s second offering for this EP in the form of a bonus track. Another remix, Ludwig’s ‘Spiral Ambience Extended Take’ meets the original and B1 somewhere in the middle. The imaging is more animated here and his use of harder timbres adds an edge to the mix. Ludwig’s handling of source material is subtle but effective, chopping up motifs and reshaping melodic contours to throw a different shade on Ferlin’s original. Great care has been put into the closing minutes, where some of Ludwig’s best moments can be found, concluding the EP wonderfully. Only a preview is available of the second remix, and like the first remix, you will have to purchase the record to listen in full.