Massimo Amato - Lost Sunsets - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Massimo Amato - Lost Sunsets

by Nathan McKinney Rating:9 Release Date:2019-05-24
Massimo Amato - Lost Sunsets
Massimo Amato - Lost Sunsets

Considering Ambient's diverse gamut of textures and moods, it’s refreshing to find a work that brilliantly hits a sweet spot. Massimo Amato’s latest, Lost Sunsets, leverages his years of experience — including two previous LPs under his given name and a smattering of others under his old aliases: Mono-drone and Maxloved — as well recalling the entire history of ambient music — to produce a sublime record characterized primarily by its ability to do so much with so little. Using both acoustic and electronic sounds, but rarely more than three or four at a time, Lost Sunsets quickly establishes and steadily maintains a masterful layering of juxtaposed elements, creating a sonic landscape that is both warmly mystical and quietly tense.

Amato’s previous releases frequently explored similar territory, but often varied greatly from track to track, sometimes slipping more heavily into jazz, lounge or experimental, each track setting its own mood. On Lost Sunsets, there’s a maturity at work that ties the whole album together. Lost Sunsets opens quietly with Time Capsule, an intro track that eases us in with spoken vocals — a young woman in meditation, pacing off slightly inarticulate mantras establishing early a vaguely mystical theme that never leaves.

Instead of jolting track changes, the mood is subtly adjusted from track to track. To Love the Love, the second track starts off in Pink Floyd territory: a simple baseline and ghostly tones that are eventually joined by a slightly discordant steel guitar winding up and down, somewhat reminiscent of the opening to the second part of Shine on You Crazy Diamond. Dreaming of You follows with a different take on the same mood. Forlorn jazzy horns call out into the night and are layered under a static textured beat that reminds one of Jan Jelinek’s Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records. Up next Lightwaves takes up more of the same, this time with quiet synths that are eventually joined by radar scope sine waves that prove to be calming, like the distant signal of a slowly rising star.

The title track Lost Sunsets and Nightflower keep the same mood, this time with a Music for Airports 1/1 throwback. Contemplative piano, the occasional chimes are backed by a rising and falling synth underbelly. Each track sticks around just long enough to whet but moves into the next track without losing the mood. The album reaches a peak of intensity with Folksong and Blue Petals where basic breakbeats are laid over the rest to add a bit of intensity, a worthy payoff for the anticipation deftly built to this point. Blue Petals adds an eastern edge with traditional string plucks to carry it out. It’s hard to believe the record is already almost over.

The journey winds down with I Found Love which loses the beat but retains the eastern strings which are now more like quiet wind chimes or soft rain, layered with a quiet harmonica, and eventually a layered male vocal component that withers in and out of the mix like a lost soul still searching. Finally, the cycle is completed with The Red Carpet, echoing back to the intro track with the same female mantras, only much more settled into the back of the mix.

The cyclical nature of the album encourages you to hit play all over again, and the journey is well worth repeating.

While Lost Sunsets never seeks to reinvent the wheel, it finds divine pleasure in retreading well-worn territory, referencing past work by the genre’s trailblazers, but restraint prevents it from simply aping other work. Its minimalist approach provides a precise degree of complexity, neither boring nor demanding too much of the listener, instead tethering the ear to something approaching zen.

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I enjoyed this, definitely one of my favourite ambient albums in recent years.

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