Lowell’s own Al Gentile is renown for his captivating and insightful writing. He’s written marvelous pieces for the likes of medium.com, Boston Hassle and *tosses hair back* The Lowell Spin. Actually, in addition to his contributions, Al has been a monumental influence on my writing since I began submitting reviews for the Spin in 2017. With harsh, albeit constructive criticism, patience, and clarity in addressing my questions, Al helped sharpen my writing to better make a clear, concise, and well-founded point (pun intended) in each of my pieces. From that, I’ve always perceived Al as an honest, creative, sensitive yet stand-up gentleman. This paragraph isn’t a eulogy for him or his music. Rather, it’s here to give you contextual clues into the artist I listened to when I heard Analogs’ DAYDREAM.
Unveiled just before the new year, DAYDREAM is a 4-song compilation of varying moods. “Pantomime”, an improved version of an older Analogs song, features grizzly textures and phantom frequencies between fuzzed bass and a granular vocal tone. An unforgiving aura at first, the mix creates the expectation for the song to sound like a ripcord while it gently settles into place. The guitar duel is quite pretty and melodically accessible – I’m actually whistling one part right now.
This serves as a great transition to “Anything Right”. A big-sky ballad, “Anything Right” explores the indecision that many people, if not everyone, feel when assessing common values like love and finding purpose. A great topping for this lyrical perplexity is the last line, asking why doing nothing right conversely feels right. Perhaps being idle is just in the cards for some folks? Or maybe this line is indirectly asking why something like love or direction feels significant or gratifying at all, thus trying to get an idea of the actual sensation of satisfaction or fulfillment – as if an alien were to investigate human emotions. Whatever the intent may be, one can’t help but delve deep into a heady diatribe when listening critically to the track’s lyrics.
As far as instrumentation is concerned, “Anything Right” is a total flip from “Pantomime”. Acoustic guitars and call-and-response violins provide a comfortable stereo image that sounds polished with crisp bourbon. The title track, “D.A.Y.D.R.E.A.M”, follows suit with its swung, percussive guitar and its glistening Hammond organ patch. Similar to the aforementioned violins, “D.A.Y.D.R.E.A.M” employs dual layers of an instrument to fill up space – in this case, the vocals are dedicated harmonies. The male vocals enter later to form a saturated ensemble of voices. The vocals, paired with guitars, emulate a creamy soundscape that captures the soft, fluid essence of daydream.
The release wraps up with “Colony”, a song I perceive as an aural representation of sailing. Connecting sonic experiences with imagery can often be convoluted, but I think Al is intentionally leading the listener to associate the two here; not only due to the actual inclusion of sailing in the lyrics, but also because the song’s main vocal idea focuses on growing and embracing independence. Rhetorically, sailing can be a lonely endeavor. Sailing can also symbolize a number of concepts. Certainty is not typically one of them. Independence is by nature a lonely endeavor and has an uncertain dimension to it, since growing is a malleable concept that each human is left to determine and measure for themselves. For Al to depict sailing, the need to trek on one’s own, with no real certainty BUT with a confident note really does serve as a feel-good treat for the listener.
Independence and growth, concepts here in “Colony” tie exceptionally well to an article that Al published in tandem with this release; a reflection on submitting personally significant art to the listening world. A big takeaway from the article is Al’s candor in equating publishing music with serving an addiction to heightened sensitivity to life, minus the negative aspects of a typical vice that make one “disappear from the world”, plus the effect of having a deeper and more significant value to and for the world. This is a very positive and encouraging line of reasoning for anyone looking to mature as an artist or creator of sorts. Measuring and undergoing growth and “success” for an artist can be judged by their product’s visibility or by its consumption by the masses but, as Al discusses, an extremely significant and rewarding part of growing as an artist lies in having the balls to publish something personal; something real – even if only to the artist themselves. This level of honesty and ingenuity is indicative of the artist I heard when listening to Analogs.
I applaud Al for taking this step on his journey as a creator and for having the intellectual wherewithal to reflect on it and record his thoughts. Oddly enough, the past four months have given me a great window to reflect on my own code, so I feel no aversion to recounting here that, in the grand scheme of things, having an accessible, over-produced sound, the biggest or best of something does not always match pound-for-pound with the reward from personal growth and pushing yourself, especially when dealing with sensitive subject matter. Choosing to share how your brief time on Earth has affected and inspired you through art works to validate your story AND adds a new experience and a different view for an audience.