Antonio Tonietti – No Longer Human [Dissipatio]
Italian artist Antonio Tonietti decided to honor one of the most famous Japanese novels with “No Longer Human”, inspired by Osamu Dazai’s book “Ningen shikkaku” – a story about mental illness and social distress which was recently adapted by Junji Ito into a manga too.
The 4-track album sees long-form compositions that play with droning sounds, sharp orchestrations and eerie piano motifs by Massimo Amato in order to conceive a soulful atmosphere mixing pathos and drama, enriched by Claudio Milano and Giorgio Pinardi’s theatrical vocals, and various noise elements.
“First Notebook” showcases all the aforementioned elements giving us a slow but captivating crescendo with hints of melancholy and mutant chants moving between lyricism and madness. Piano notes navigate the sonic sea reaching first isles of shrilling effects and then dark ambient soundscapes.
“Second Notebook” starts as an industrial pastiche with field-recordings atmospheres and distant, spectral notes intermixed with grating mechanical elements. Then, subtle melodies underline the movement without canceling the rest – a mix of emotions that could be perceived as an expression of the themes of alienation and trying to fit into a society. Suggestive vocal deliveries add a malevolent dimension to the track before dwelling in almost sacral moments that collapse into droning darkness.
“Third Notebook” mixes looping orchestral samples and nature’s sound generating a disorienting soundscape soon reached by sharp distortions and dissonant elements. The shrilling behemoth grows into an alien mantra, a somewhat suspended reality punctuated by repeated vocals and demented hissings. The final part of the track climaxes in a cathartic chant that works as a completion and overcoming of the previous sounds.
“Epilogue” ends our journey with the longest part of the work, a 12-plus minute track starting with a sampled dialogue by Silvia Pegah Scaglione repeated in various forms while shrilling strings underline the mysterious atmosphere. More than a traditional track, we have here a suggestion in sounds, a sort of abstract summary of the themes and mindscapes of both the story and the album. Tetsuroh Konishi’s modified alto recorder greatly enhances the ghostly ambience. Flute and Koto sounds complete the scene giving us a more substantial musical movement – it guides us toward the sweet end.
“No Longer Human” works more as an impression in sounds of the musician’s ideas and emotions born of the reading experience, than as a simple soundtrack to the book. Probably a live setting would be (will be?) the perfect and most complete form of representation for this work, but a personal listening experience is not bare of fruitful inner findings.
Release date: January 27th, 2024.
Text by: Davide Pappalardo.