Step Right Up: Waves On Canvas
Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry
I was first introduced to Waves on Canvas by a 7″ vinyl single entitled, ‘Angel’. The song features vocals by Louise Rutkowski of This Mortal Coil fame. ‘Angel’ is a love song set to a swirling symphony of strings that is utterly emotive. Rutkowski sings ‘For you I can feel emotions I have never felt’ amidst a glorious sound of strings, piano and ambient soundscape. This was a taster for Waves on Canvas’ full length album ‘Into The Northsea’ which is now available on Dublin based Psychonavigation Records. The album artwork (as well as the ‘Angel’ single) was done by the legendary Vaughan Oliver whose work adorns many iconic 4AD album sleeves. As the artwork suggests, this album is quite special. A set of beguiling music from start to finish, Waves on Canvas crosses ambient, classical and electronic genres. For fans of music labels such as Type, Touch, Erased Tapes, Fat Cat etc, Waves on Canvas is certainly for you.
Waves on Canvas is the pseudonym for Italian musician Stefano Guzzetti who was born in Sardinia. At the age of 9, he fell in love with Bach’s organ works and decided to start taking organ lessons. A short while later, his love affair with electronica music began after receiving a computer as a gift. Inspired by Kraftwerk, he soon begun programming sounds and noises. It is these sounds and noises found on ‘Into The Northsea’ years later that has pushed the envelope of classical and electronica music. The album opener ‘Twenty Years’ is a perfect film score piece of piano music. It is mournful with a gorgeous texture. The piano melody is reminiscent of luminaries such as Dustin O’ Halloran and Max Richter. ‘Flowers Of The Sea’ is a dreamy haze of electronic glitches, warm beats and bright keyboards and xylophone. The piece recalls childhood and evokes a wave of nostalgia that a flood of memories would bring. This could be Ulrich Schnauss and the sound of shoegaze electronica.
‘Starfish’ continues in the same vein but more indie pop than shoegaze. The strumming acoustic guitar and electronic loops creates a psychedelic sound amidst the vocals of Ian Masters. Panda Bear and Atlas Sound spring to mind. ‘Stella’ consists of blissed out ambient soundscapes. Subtle layers of electronic tweaking is heard throughout and the eerie strings provides one of ‘Into The Northsea’ finest moments. ‘Voix Dans Une Voix’ as the title suggests is a French spoken word piece. This is my standout track. Lacroix’ spoken word is mesmerizing. The warm fuzz of beats and swirling guitars creates the perfect backdrop to her formidable French spoken word. ‘Frozen’ could be classic David Sylvian. The song features Pieter Nooten and Yvette Winkler. The lyrics of the chorus goes ‘Step up to find/an island in place/frozen in time’. Piano and violin drift by. ‘A Dedication’ is yet another beguiling piece of music. Strings, piano, backing vocals and electronic noises galore. The album closes with ‘Here and Away’ which is the ultimate dream shoegaze electronica wave of sound. The moving sound of ‘Into The Northsea’ is the sound of music ‘far away in a distant time’, to quote a lyric from ‘In my Dream’.
In the words of Stefano Guzzetti: ‘I love using notes, noises, frequencies, and everything that can be put on a grid or a score and sounds good to me. This is how I feel music. I also love being in harmony with everything around me. Just living every moment of my days. This is how I live life.’
‘Into The Northsea’ is out now on Psychonavigation Records.