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Stefano Pilia - Action Silence Prayers

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Artist: Stefano Pilia

Album: Action Silence Prayers

Label: Die Schachtel

Review date: Jul. 24, 2008

The title of Stefano Pilia's newest release might be Action Silence Prayers, but it's fair to say that the album's rather low on the first, at least in terms of conventional thinking. The Italian multi-instrumentalist tends toward the serene, and this disc is no exception, with six tracks of tranquil beauty. It glides by with a celestial glow, with simple melodies repeated to great effect and a meditative calm enveloping the listener like the comfort of a childhood blanket.

While 3/4hadbeeneliminated’s guitarist has been known to drone on albums past, Action Silence Prayers relies more on the power of single notes in succession. "Sea" and "Land," which bookend the disc, are of a more ambient nature, but the album's innards, as it were, are more a gentle rain than oceanic expanse. On "Question," Pilia's clean tone rings out like bells, the melody stretched out and more fractured, though not to an abstract extreme. "Water" coils itself endlessly with beguiling use of reverb, though Pilia resists the urge to opt for some grand cathartic ascendancy, with the track instead finding itself duly fractured, the notes glistening baubles loosened from their melodic form like pearls tumbling from a broken necklace. Pilia changes things up a bit, playing piano on "Sky," but the somber melody doesn't mark a distinct departure from Pilia's work on the six-string.

The consistency of atmosphere in Action Silence Prayers is a product of Pilia's disavowal of the grand gesture. He resists the urge for anything too overt, and what could easily become overly dramatic in the hands of another is handled with care here. Purity is a questionable concern in the discussion of music, but Action Silence Prayers, by all appearances, remains true to itself, without unnecessary flourishes or obvious tugs at the heartstrings. It features both stark simplicity and cryptic knots of notes, but no matter his style, Pilia plies his trade with a sensitivity that makes for an attractive sound. Mournful melodies and deep, hazy drones bear the same iterative fruit on this disc of beguiling beauty.

By Adam Strohm

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