AMN Reviews: Marco Bellafiore – Forme e Racconti [Setola di Maiale SM4390]

As unwelcome as the covid lockdowns were, they had the unintended consequence of inspiring some fine work from artists forced to rely on nothing but what was immediately available at hand. Italian double bassist Marco Bellafiore’s Forme e Racconti, a home-recorded solo album created in isolation in 2020, is one such work.

The tracks on Forme e Racconti were created by looping and layering Bellafiore’s multiple double bass parts into solidly constructed compositions. The emphasis throughout is on song, where Bellafiore shows a gift for crafting harmonically taut, multilevel structures from relatively spare materials. The undergirding for many of the tracks comes by way of pizzicato phrases looped into propulsive ostinati or brief chord cycles; on several pieces Bellafiore adds percussion by tapping rhythmic patterns on the body of the instrument. On top of it all Bellafiore layers a liquid, arco lead or a punchy, rapid pizzicato.

The seven pieces cover a wide expressive range. For example, the brightly lyrical opener is followed by a track focused on darker and more abstract timbres, which itself is followed by the reverb-and-tremolo expanses of a quasi-Western soundtrack. The sparsest piece in the set is the traditional Japanese shakuhachi melody Honshirabe, in which Bellafiore draws startlingly breath-like sounds with the bow. The closing piece, the twelve-minute-long It Wasn’t so Bad at All, creates an emotionally moving atmosphere with a slowly drifting bowed line that gives way to a freer, more active, yet still-introspective, pizzicato soliloquy.

Daniel Barbiero