Salvatore Mercatante – Ø

Salvatore Mercatante – Ø [A Strangely Isolated Place, 2023-01-26]

Born in 2008 as a blog, in 2009 as a mix series, in 2012 as a label and in 2019 as a web radio, A Strangely Isolated Place is a project that “we love to love”, for its luminous music, the countless sunsets captured in its ambiences, the evident passion and kindness of its authors (we still have in mind ASIP’s fundraiser for Ukraine) and the fun “symmetry” that we see between ASIP and our own project. Indeed, if we are the “Hypnotic Techno Circle”, we think of ASIP as the “Ambient Music Circle”…

Blog of a community.Hello! 🙋‍♂️
Human / Not neutralHelloo! 🙋‍♂️
Rooted from the chill-out culture.Hello Hello! 🙋‍♂️
Gives voice to unknown artists.HELLO! 🙋‍♂️
Obsessed with a sound.HELLOO! 🙋‍♂️
Writes interminable articles on it.HELLOOOO! 😊
ASIP is based in Los Angeles, famous for its breathtaking sunsets…

Through its discography and web radio, cherished by labels such as Affin, Astral Industries and Silent Season, ASIP curates ambient music from “the meaningful side”: pieces that have “something to say”, sometimes flirting with rhythmic structures and therefore venturing into electronica or techno, but mainly ambient. It is no coincidence that ASIP’s owner, Ryan Griffin, is the author of one of the scene’s greatest reference articles to describe ambient music (here; a must-read to expand your culture on the genre). Inside, he included the following thought: “Electronica is a largely debated genre and in my eyes can represent a wide range of electronic music which isn’t necessarily meant for dancing, but more for listening. (…) Ambient electronica managed to combine the escapism and relaxation of ambient music, alongside more interesting and complex electronic production techniques.”

This is exactly how we see “Ø” by Salvatore Mercatante, released last week on the label.

“Ø” (“Naught”) is said to symbolise the artist’s lifelong quest to compose music without any external influence… The adult that you are would probably wave at him whispering “Son, it’s just impossible”, or, more sarcastically, “Only God can…”

However, this would misconceive Mercatante’s artistic essence. If you listen to his three-decades-long musical experimentations, you may feel, like us, the naivety of the youth rather than any form of artistic arrogance.

Mercatante is first and foremost fascinated by the sound. From hip-hop to Ennio Morricone to Japanese folklore, he’s capable of merging all in one release, not by imitation, but with the pure mind of a child, not very concerned about playing with various sizes of toys when building stories. In the way we understand it, “Naught” has more to do with “producing freely”, “instinctively”, “making music the way you want”, than “consciously rejecting the external influence”.

Salvatore Mercatante
Mercatante’s grandfather? (Just asking 👀)

Yet, if experimenting eventually requires the soul of a child, “manipulating sounds like toys” potentially makes the musical connection more arduous for the listener. Indeed, while going through Mercantante’s discography, we felt like watching him having fun from behind a window, unable to really engage with what he was doing, until the release of “Ø”.

Thanks to “more complex production techniques”, as mentioned by Griffin, used at the service of music and not the other way around, and thanks to higher attention given to the harmonies, we felt that consciously or not, Mercatante finally added to his beautiful glasses of “mad scientist” the cape of “prominent musician within the minimal electronica genre.”


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