Fans have waited four long years for a new release from experimental doom act, Messa, and the band’s latest release, Close, is well worth the wait. It does not disappoint as it is an elevated offering that dives into new instrumentation and techniques while expanding on the band’s already established unique sound. Messa started out as a progressive doom band before evolving to incorporate various influences including jazz, blues, sludge, black metal, and dark ambience. Close brings together all these elements while also adding cultural inspirations and instruments. In addition to the uniqueness of style and sound, the production is clean and crisp helping listeners unearth each new piece while flowing brilliantly from movement to movement.
The variety of instrumentation and techniques on Close is impressively diverse. Diving in immediately, the opening track “Suspended” shows a lot of variety with quiet, reverberating synths before doom guitar and cymbal driven percussion are introduced along with Sara Bianchin’s enchanting vocals. Later, staccato guitar work is heard and then jazz influenced melodic guitar. The movement of this track is captivating, and the album only progresses from there with twists and turns and unpredictability in sound. Despite the changes in tempo and performance, the flow of each track is not jarring and each piece works together to create something distinctive and pleasing aesthetically.
Messa welcomed two guest musicians on this album with Giorgio Trombino (playing duduk and saxophone) and Matteo Bordin (playing free guitar). The addition of these two skilled musicians enhances Close and amplifies the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean vibe that Messa has cultivated in this release. Messa member and multi-instrumentalist, Alberto Piccolo, significantly adds to the instrumental variety by contributing guitar, slide guitar, 12 strings guitar, oud, mandolin, vocals, Moog bass, Rhodes piano, synth, and percussions. I mean… wow. This band deserves so much praise and admiration for their technical skill and expertise. To bring all these pieces into ten enigmatic compositions is beyond impressive.
“Pilgrim” is my favorite track of the album and in equal parts due to the song’s immersive sound and beautiful, hypnotizing music video. This was one of the first songs written for the album and captures the direction of Close with its strong Middle Eastern/Mediterranean feel. The track contains cultural instrumentation including dulcimer and oud. Sara’s vocals are haunting and echoing with this backdrop. I am enamored with the music video which was shot in black and white in different locations in Southern France and Northern Italy including a cave where some parts of the album were recorded. The video heavily features a spellbinding dance called Nakh which is also represented in the album art. The band explains “Nakh is a ritual dance performed by women along the Algerian/Tunisian border. It features the swaying of the dancer’s head and thrashing of the hair. When we discovered Nakh we immediately thought about the similarities that this dance has with headbanging. The video is centered on the similarities that these two distant worlds have in common. The connection that creates between them is unexpected but very spontaneous.” I cannot recommend the music video enough. It’s powerful, well produced, and stunning.
Close is another dynamic and exciting addition to Messa’s evolving discography. This is the band’s first release under Svart Records and if it is any indication of the trajectory of potential productions from Messa under Svart, there will be more stunning works of art in the future. I can already say that this album will be towards the top of my end of year list. It grows on me more and more with each listen as I find new elements and intricacies in the layers of each track. Sway with the sounds and immerse yourself in Close.
Close is available now on Svart Records. For more information on Messa, visit their Facebook Page.
Great review! Messa definitely nailed it!