Like most of us, Bruno Bavota’s life in pandemic times was turned upside down. The fear of COVID and the anxiety associated with lockdown took their toll on the Italian composer. Eventually, “fear gave way to fatigue, and the anxiety metamorphosed into nervous energy”, according to his website. Bavota was ultimately inspired to compose the pieces that make up his new album, For Apartments: Songs & Loops, with sparse solo acoustic piano pieces comprising the “songs” and more experimental synthesizer works making up the “loops”.
The result is a symmetrical work that nicely divides into two distinct parts, although the songs and loops could easily be interspersed in the track order for a similarly satisfactory listening experience. Opening track “Apartment Loop #1” includes gentle machinery-like low-end chugging, scattered ethereal high notes, and bits of sci-fi aural detritus that makes for a lovely futuristic set piece, both calming and oddly invigorating. “Apartment Loop #2” has more of a pulse behind the music, but it never seems insistent or grating. Bavota’s musical lockdown mentality appears to be rooted in calming exercises designed almost as “pandemic therapy”. Even the deep, thundering noise that envelops the listener at the beginning of “Apartment Loop #5” is eventually folded into more reassuring chords and instrumentation.
The “song” half of the album may be slightly less musically adventurous than what preceded it, but it’s often an equally satisfying experience. Bavota’s piano is clear and bright, with the sounds of pedals, hammers, and light background noise clearly audible. It’s as if Bavota is sitting right next to you, conjuring up these straightforward but irresistible melodies. “Apartment Song #2” moves deliberately with simple chords evoking an almost hymnal feel. That’s countered by the sustained, minor-key mystery of “Apartment Song #4” and the sparse, delicate minimalism of “Apartment Song #11″.
There’s more than twice the number of “songs” than “loops” on the album – the piano pieces are shorter, but the longer loops allow Bavota the opportunity to stretch out and experiment with the synths and processors. But again, the two halves of this gorgeous, almost meditative album live very well together. They both seem to have been created out of a need for contemplation and tranquility, even though they use relatively different tools to achieve those goals. Bruno Bavota is an immensely talented composer whose music is very deeply felt, and the art he creates is vital in this age of uncertainty.