ALBUM REVIEW: Novanta – Best-Selling Dreams (2014)

novantaBy Del Chaney

Nu gaze is a term that scares the life out of me. I generally tend to stay well away from it for fear of lumping a band or an artist into a sub-genre of music that they neither belong to nor indeed be involved with at all. I personally believe that, whether you use synth and drum machines, guitars and effects, or effected ethereal vocals to create walls of sound, by rights you should be classified as shoegaze. The dreaded nu gaze moniker seems to be tagged onto whomever seems like they are trying out something new, or simply being different. We need to actively promote and support the right bands for being part of the shoegaze family! After all, if we keep creating new terminologies for the different eras or newest waves of gaze, are we not eventually going to completely wipe away the original concept?

Italian shoegaze has been on the rise for a while now. I’ve touched on it before (case in point the review of Stella Diana’s latest featured recently in this publication), but one band in particular is notable for bringing a new form of modern shoegaze to a worldwide audience via another amazing independent record label, Palermo’s Seashell Records. This label is not only cradling shoegaze on their roster, but also folk, psychedelic rock, alt-folk, wave, neo-folk, indie pop, folktronic, and ambient artists as well. Seashell Records are, in my opinion, one of the foremost purveyors of Italian gaze today.

One such act on the Seashell roster is a shoegaze/post-rock/electronic project created and headed by Milan’s Manfredi Lamartina. A stunning eight track album called Best-Selling Dreams, full of ambient, post-rock, and shoegaze elements, was released back in September 2014 under the project’s name, Novanta.

Manfredi Lamartina.

Manfredi Lamartina.

Best-Selling Dreams opens up with “Light Changes.” A drum sequence doesn’t give anything away at all before this track opens up into a blistering, dream-pop-infused soundscape with a modern twist. The use of synths on this track is exquisite, and the vocal effects/production are immense. Anyone who ever wanted to know how good modern Italian shoegaze is need only look to this track, and this entire epic release, to educate them on its brilliance.

As its title suggests, “Windows” will open your eyes and ears to Italian shoegaze and will take you on a journey of monumental proportions from the off. This track explodes on the musical canvas with effected guitars and addictive vocal lines leading us into that immense chorus change. Sheer emotive and expressive shoegaze at its very, very best.

With a look back to the first wave of shoegaze, track three on the album is my personal favourite. “Worthless Whirls” is old school. From its post-punk touches to its dream-wave vocals, all comfortably swirling around its shoegaze leanings, this track alone has everything. It builds and builds until the haunting vocal arrives on top of a post-punk-inspired bass line, leading us to that brilliant My Bloody Valentine-like wall of effected guitars. This is shoegaze!

One can listen to any track on this album and never fail to get completely inspired by what Manfredi Lamartina and Novanta have achieved. From the aforementioned opening track through to the album’s epic closer “La Maledizione Degli Affetti,” Best-Selling Dreams should be celebrated for what it is — a brilliant shoegaze album infused with post-punk, dream-pop, and ambient stylings that often hark back to the first wave of shoegaze. This is a truly wonderful album, one that I’ll continue to reference as one of the best underground Italian shoegaze albums of 2014 going forward.

DEL CHANEY is a self-confessed music freak and is never far away from a turntable. He divides his time between fronting popular electronic band Analogue Wave and uncovering and actively promoting artists from all over the globe in the shoegaze, dream pop, noise-rock, & post-rock genres with The Primal Music Blog and The Primal Radio Show. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, Del is a keen vinyl collector, tattoo fan, & all round good guy.