Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
My Initial Impressions of When The Nothing Shines Upon by Alex Vecchietti
Alex Vecchietti’s album When The Nothing Shines Upon brings together his guitar chops, expressive voice and powerful lyrics to create an emotive work. Along with the background of interlinking synths, strong percussion and contrasts between light and dark, the whole album makes for an engaging listening experience.
The lyrics to the songs on When The Nothing Shines Upon are worth mentioning as they delve into dark, challenging ideas and provide a shadowy contrast to the overall energy of the album. I am drawn to Alex Vecchietti’s ability to bare difficult subjects in his writing and to express them so clearly and sharply.
It helps that he has an expressive voice that is able to illustrate the starkness of his writing and limn the emotions that tear out of the music itself with sharpness. Alex Vecchietti is a singer who obviously puts his heart and soul into the material he’s written and allows the listener access to his self-expression.
On top of these factors, he’s also a superb guitarist. He is able to make the guitar sing and cry, sometimes slicing like a blade and other times soaring, always there to add to the emotional quality of his songwriting and emphasize what he's trying to express clearly. The solos show off his dexterity, but it’s the emotion that comes through most intensely for me.
There’s a layered complexity to the way in which the synth parts, the bass, and the drums interact with one another on When The Nothing Shines Upon. They all weave into one cohesive tapestry with many ear-grabbing parts. The entirety of the sound makes for a backdrop that continues to support the expression of the other elements of the music while keeping things interesting.
My Favourite Tracks Analyzed
“When The Nothing Shines Upon”
“When The Nothing Shines Upon” comes to life with rebounding hollow-sounding synths that bounce out a pattern as they are joined by female choral voices. Now there are throbbing militaristic drums and the dramatic sound of a full orchestra swelling into the music. The hollow, rebounding pattern of synth is joined by a higher cutting sound while bass oscillates to establish a solid beat and a high, shifting pattern of chiming synth moves over it.
Now the guitar plays an evolving line while the percussion glides along and the mechanical-sounding synth is joined by moving chimes. The segment in which the guitar spins out a bright-toned series of notes along with glowing synth and shifting, circling chimes is especially interesting to me. I am also drawn to the solo in which the crying, yearning guitar cascades into the music.
The opening of “Alone” resembles the beginning of “When The Nothing Shines Upon” without any orchestral or choral elements, but the energy is different as the big-sounding retro drums throb and the electric guitar smoothly cruises into the music, playing a shifting pattern of minor key notes.
There’s a rising burst of high synth before bright chimes shine into the music. The slight twang in the guitar’s tone is something I like in this track. There’s a brief break as drifts of slowly evolving guitar kick in before the energy ramps up again. There’s a strong guitar part that is high and leaping here as well.
“Seduction” kicks off with the bright clash of synth and feeling of open space. The percussion sounds are powerfully retro here and the entire song bursts with a New Wave sensibility. Alex Vecchietti’s voice is expressive and matches the feeling of the track. There’s a pleasing glide and drift of synth moving over the throbbing beat in this track. The shine of the synths contrasts with the dark message of the lyrics as the guitar now soars into the track.
The sense of pain, desire, and loss is palpable in this song. As it opens, the narrator speaks of being left to “live a life of lies without a sense of truth.” There’s a sense of struggle in the lines, “Tried to solve a puzzle of existence in my youth. All the while I craved for something pure to cleanse my eyes.”
Instead of finding that purity he craved, the narrator found that “Death instead was in my bed and craving my demise.” The chorus emphasizes this fall in the lines, “I threw my love into a world so far. You caught it and left it into coal tar.”
The narrator speaks of being thrown into a “pit of leeches, sucking out my soul” and spiraling into a “rollercoaster of sex without control.” He speaks of the pain when “every time I grew attached, I'd take a knife right into the heart” and adds “I kept my distance and we grew far apart.” The one thing that he says the person mentioned will never feel is his shame.
Read More From Spinditty
The narrator explains, “I'll try to steer clear of you, as the woman that corrupted my soul, a reminder of all my pain.” He adds that she will never get to feel his pain and as the chorus repeats, there is bitterness in the lines “I threw my love into a world so cold. You caught it and left it to grow so old.”
As the song concludes he says, “Jahve washes away the sin, the pain you brought to me…”
There’s a coldness to the opening of “Descent” with pulses of static forming a pattern of sound that flows into the spaces around them. There’s a unique synth that has a round, computerized sound to it along with bass that pulses out in uneven waves as the drums drive steadily. The lead synth has a quality of expanding outward as the pulse of thick sound under it adds energy to the track.
There’s something addictive about the combination of bass pulse and a high pattern of repetitive sound that forms. There’s an interesting rebounding feeling to this track as a warmer layer of synth rises from underneath to mellow the track with harsher bursts of sound moving through.
“Flesh of My Blood”
“Flesh of My Blood” starts with chiming synth sounds vibrating into open space as a steady beat and expanding hollow synth sounds open into the music. There’s a sort of chant-like quality as Alex Vecchietti begins to sing while the rough-edged bass pulse that drives the track forward along with the drums.
The guitar cries out over the throbbing bass and drums. The track feels surprisingly uplifting for the darkness of the lyrics. Alex Vecchietti is an axeman par excellence as he lets that guitar loose on the track.
The lyrics to this song are full of darkness, weight, and ache. It pours with shadow as the narrator says, “I’ve tried to float in the deep, to avoid the weight of my body The rest sounds obsolete, I live by the creed of sorry.” There is a sense of being mocked in the lyrics, “The life i now regret, taunts me from the other side.”
The imagery is stark in the line, “On my head you placed a bet and the jackpot is my suicide” and even the narrator's friends have turned on him. As he says, “My friends are all backed up, by guardians with bladed looks.”
The sense of decay and loss is emphasized in the words, “I used to smile but now I rot, hanging from these butcher’s hooks” as the narrator goes on to say, “I feel labeled, I feel sold, I abuse of my aggression, I am a killer with a heart of gold.”
Raw pain rips from the words of the chorus in the lines, “You were the flesh of my blood ,the blood in my veins, you cut my 2 wrists to cover your stains.” The feeling of betrayal is clear in the words, “You were the flesh of my blood, the crown in my reign, you gave me these fists, they drown me in pain.”
There’s a subversion of the idea of seeing the “child in everyone” as the narrator adds, “every child has his own gun, the gun is made just from his fears, eating those who dare come near.”
A sense of delusion and confusion flows from the lyrics in lines like, “seeing things as they appear, not being forced to make things clear” as there is a plea “to listen and not just to hear, to free yourself from all your fears.”
This plea is turned aside as the narrator says he’s, “looking at the world, just with my eyes, not with my mind, not seeing the mistakes, not seeing all the lies.” As the song ends, he aches to be able to say “hello, it’s been a while” and not see the “hate behind your smile” as he craves to be “in love and not in lust, turning my heart now into dust.”
“The Siege of Amygdala”
Thick washes of dense medium-high synth flow out into the open spaces of “The Siege of Amygdala” as it begins while higher synth notes create a sound in a catchy pattern and a hard-driving, tech-y beat rams into the track and propels it forward. I especially like the unique percussion sound that comes in with a punch.
There’s a lead melody with a minor tinge which adds shape to the music, but it really takes off when the guitar solo soars and slams into the track. There’s a great feeling of energy and propulsion from the guitar. The track circles to the “A” section before flying guitar notes cut over the pounding beat. There’s a lot of density and layering to this track.
When The Nothing Shines Upon has a sense of laying things bare and expressing emotions and thoughts that are shadowy and challenging. Alex Vecchetti’s abilities to write strong lyrics, create musical tapestries and channel his feelings into sound are all quite apparent on this album. I felt drawn in and engaged while I listened which is never a bad sign.
© 2020 Karl Magi