A Whisper


The Fossil Dungeon, 2004


REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


The trio of Chirleison hails from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia off the coast of Italy, and the sound of their music is as exotic as the sound of their homeland. A Whisper, Chirleison's debut, is an intoxicating concoction of ancient Italian/Mediterranean neo-folk blended with surrealism and modern goth-pop with evangelical influences.

Singer Alessia Cicala, who has sung in three languages -- English, French, and Italian -- on this album, has vocals that mix melancholy with hope in a soothingly scary way, invoking deep musings and a weird sense of positivism into the depressed and the deceased, and her flute playing provides an extra touch of mysterious allure to her singing. Guitarist Daniele Serra's acoustic six-strings provide the backbone and melody to every track. Simple and elegant, Serra's chords are pretty much a substitute for drums and bass on this record. Keyboardist Mara Lasi completes the music with her share of gothic ambient backdrop and effects.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

A Whisper is not one of those albums that can be conventionally put under any genre; its ambiguity demands patience and a lot of attentive listening. This album is all about subtlety. The music, though simple, is so deeply interwoven that it takes some intense listening to decipher and savor its constituting flavors.

In spite of its melody-driven nature, the disc is not something that would catch immediate attention. The slow and brooding music, for instance, has no conventional drumming/percussion. With the exception of a couple of tracks here and there, the only discernible percussion present on this album is in the form of subtle sound effects that blend in with the atmospherics of the music.

This slow record is like a soothing journey through bleakness, out of which there always emerges positivism. For instance, in "Canzone Per Anceo," the haunting melody and Cicala's reassuring singing makes for a combination akin to the Cocteau Twins' formula for songs that brings out ray of hope amid a very gloomy backdrop. The same is the case with the gorgeous "Reveil," but with the difference that this time Cicala's vocals are spookier and more psychedelic in a Kate Bush-like manner, which makes it weirdly charming.

A Whisper is a soundtrack for positivism in bleakness. Listening to it is like experiencing a calm after the storm. Its mysteriousness is as intriguing as its sublimity, making this album only for those who care to see beauty in the strange and the atypical.

[For more information on Chirleison, visit www.chirleison.com]

Rating: A

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