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Suicide is a difficult subject to broach, but art has an ability to give perspectives on subjects that might otherwise get swept under the rug. In Boston artist Federico Balducci’s instrumental album Cause à Effet he takes inspiration from some of history’s greatest thinkers to bring more understanding to such a taboo subject.
The electronics-heavy “Schopenhauer 1893” is a frantic and sometimes off-putting theme. The dark and eerie tone to the song feels like a peek inside the mind of someone dealing with the mental distress around suicide and authentically captures a feeling of being overwhelmed. The other side of this is “Van Gogh 1874” whose echoing guitars tell of his great appreciation for life’s beauty. The dark undercutting of synth’s and a slow filtering-out of the guitars explores the artist’s tragic disconnection from realty in an interesting way.
“Seneca LXXVIII” is a brooding, classically-inspired piece, mixing a feeling of elegance with utter dread and gloom that leaves one with a deep sense of unease. There’s more echoing guitars on “Hecht 2015” with an even more present overtone of dreary effects looming over. The track is ultimately a more straightforward heavy theme but finds its most interesting moment in an ambient descent at its close that gets slowly faded out.
One of the heaviest effects tracks is “Camus 1971” where several different heavily processed guitars are layered over each other, creating both a sense of beauty and chaos simultaneously. The final moments capture a lone synth note aching of sadness, but also points to a noticeable formula in Balducci’s writing. “Nietzsche 1886” brings back the dark classical with even more bravado, and a heavier tone. The song is a beautiful composition of strings and woodwinds that bring out an intense feeling of malaise, one taken in a drastically different and less intriguing direction with the ending’s more distant sonic interpretation of the main hook.
Closing track “Jung 1964” takes a much longer approach to Balducci’s style mixing together his great classically inspired sounds with his ambient sounds in a way that’s much more natural and emotive than any of the shorter tracks. The track’s success does come at the cost of originality as by this time in the record the final track’s summation of the album also feels like retreading travelled paths.
Overall Federico Balducci’s exploration of suicide through music feels like a collection of short films with a tying theme rather than a seven act progression through a narrative. Each track tackles the subject matter in a different and interesting way but does find itself repeating certain writing structures by the time it’s over. While not as insightful as say Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, it instead explores different experiences, covering a greater span with less depth.