Fred Colombo The Road EP
The art world burgeons and thrives thanks to the many creative individuals born of the global mélange. Those alchemists of sounds and sights who seemingly effortlessly are able to render an immense amount of meaning out of pieces of metal, wood, and the synthetic. Fred Colombo is one of those gifted individuals. Having worked with prog metal groups like Spheric Universe Experience, Artefact, and Ghostfather, Fred has a respectable discography as a solo artist. Fred Colombo’s latest EP, The Road, is described as trip-hop ambient; I prefer to describe it as an auditory journey.
With an orchestral heartbeat, “The Gate of Forever” ushers the listener in to the world of Fred Colombo: a world of full sound, elation and ecstasy, despair and destruction, with a whole lot of unknown to explore. My mind drifts to BT’s Emotional Technology, perhaps by the way Fred has blended his clean vocals with the pulsing power of piano strings. The next track on the album, “Kill Me,” is a love song of sorts. With rapped verses and a synth-backed chorus, Fred swears that the only alternative to pure bliss is death, so please would somebody just kill him. I’m glad no one took him up on his polite request, because I much preferred to hear the rest of his album.
Fred Columbo Kill Me on Youtube
In “Within” Fred sings staccato words over an electronic path through his message. “When the truth is coming / When your eyes are opening / All the doors are open wide.” The natural tones of the piano against the beats conjured from ones and zeroes would be solid as an instrumental alone; with the lyrics, the track is stronger still. “Out There” begins with synth tones mimicked and expanded upon by piano played with such unhurried grace and perfection, I am convinced that Fred is a musical genius. Then the bass line swaggers in and I’m thrust into a dream. This is the song that I have been searching for every lazy Sunday morning when I’ve turned on my bedroom speaker to that Italian web radio station (it’s called Play Emotions, and if they do not yet have Fred on rotation, I certainly hope they remedy that). It’s nice to know my ears no longer have to grope so much.
Songs about cars and driving, particularly when they have a strong electronic foundation, often strike me as a cozy artifact of the 1980s. (Exempli gratia, The Cars’s “Drive”.) “The Road” has that comfortable feeling, but there’s something else. Something that brings it into the light of present day (or rather, that brings it under the streetlights of the present day), and makes the presence of a cellphone plugged into the console a given, rather than an anachronism. When the sweet electric guitar comes in, it clinches the coziness of the song, while the vestige of the lyrics haunts the listener. “The Road,” with “I’ve been driving all night long… looking for you… searching for you” is a song that is relatable, albeit unexpected. The unsettling feeling of searching for something without ever finding it niggles at you, but that guitar makes it all okay.
Clumsily, unknowingly, but gratefully, I feel into the final track of the album, “Night Falls on the Kingdom of You and Me.” I stumbled down the piano chords, and found myself floating on the solace of synth. When the beat dropped, I picked myself off and finally, knowingly and mindfully, everything was clear to me. The Road was one I am glad I ventured down. I might just make it a more regular part of my commute.