The Star Pillow – All is Quiet. Paradigms Recordings, 2014.
The Star Pillow is Italian Ambient-Drone artist Paolo Monti, and I really can’t tell you much more about the band because the press release is in Italian. That’s OK, though, because in a way, I like the idea of listening to their latest release, All is Quiet, without any sort of context.
So, what is The Star Pillow? Well, when track 1, “no more beige sundays” began, I though, “Oh, this is just your standard, minimalist post-rock.” There’s a calming, high-register guitar riff repeating through the track’s 3 minutes, and not much else, but it’s pleasant, and it’s the kind of thing I listen to lately. Then, the second track, trap for freaks” begins.
From this point in the album, the post-rock guitar pulls back, and that droning feedback/bow/whatever-else Monti is using to create that bassy hum joins in. The rest of the album’s nearly 50 minutes sound like that: sparse post-rock-style guitars in the background playing bright, hopeful tones while the drone becomes more and more ominous. The dichotomy is striking, and while it does paint the usual musical soundscapes that I normally describe when talking about post-rock, it definitely makes me feel some kind of way, and I am totally down with it.
By track 4, “equestrian,” the hum has completely taken over. There’s a sort of melody, a sort of pattern to the hum, but it feels so wide, so open, with no real sonic landmarks, or even percussion, to denote movement through the song. Instead of moving forward, I felt like I was floating though the song, letting the sonic tides rock me gently back and forth.
The final two tracks, “we were all going to die” and “still together against the great darkness” are the most ominous, as the low, bassy drone slowly gets louder and higher before coming to a climactic wall of sound.
The Star Pillow’s All is Quiet is moody, atmospheric, and dream-like, and manages to pull of a sense of foreboding without getting loud or confrontational.