In these days of climatic anguish the return of the benign summer storm is welcome news. Salvatore will release their sixth album “Days of Rage” on January first. And the point is thus taken; this is not music for snowy Christmas contemplation.
Salvatore is an unusual band and their output too diverges from most ensembles. The key concept is lightness; grand lightness, and release. Listening to Salvatore is sometimes like flying a kite in nice windy conditions: The thermic pulls you, the motions of the air are weightless but awfully strong, and the gravitational fixity of the world swoons around the whims of the kite and your string-holding dance.
Such notions also point to the psychology of the band and its constitution: an ensemble where members join, leave and rejoin underlines the openness of the enterprise, it is not a vehicle for personal exposure but rather the opposite: some detachment seems to be required in order to let the music itself manifest as hypnotic monotony and soaring planes, ornate with aural embroidery. This is of course primarily a function of Salvatore being a purely instrumental (rock) band. The absence of words is by principle the departure from semantics and traceable meaning and it also takes the person largely out of the equation.
The band biography informs us that the conception of Salvatore was a night of Neu! From the German band’s “motorik” and perpetual rhythmic drones our boys found a new architecture of sound. Ambience and monotony –in our day too often left to electronic devices- does something to the music as well as the people when actually played. Salvatore found a way of interlacing the different categories of instruments –analogue and electronic- and also their typical musical roles and sounds in a way that generates freshness and lift, so that the result comes out as far removed from the dark-eyed gloom of technological trance-inducing music. Salvatore is always more spacious and optimistic than one is used to expect from 21st century monotony.
Sometimes their music seems like a summer storm: as if accumulated in the distance and then released it engulfs and immerses the listener in waves that seem of the temperature and moisture of the skin itself. There is something distinctly primordial about the feeling, like vibrations deep in the marrow of the bone, but not dark and gloomy. Rather like Shakespeare’s Tempest, or Sigur Ros’ guitars –those who seem beyond good and evil- Salvatore manage the balancing of lightness and providence; some kind of poignant exhilaration, and they mock sublimely the notion that profundity is dark, introspective and melancholy.
These traits recur, yet the five hitherto albums vary greatly. One thing is the circulation of personnel and its effect on the records –the band family tree features a panoply of Norway's finest young musicians- but the band has also very consciously indulged in different phases: from groovy large organic sweeps to ambient and abstruse pieces, and then emphasizing melody and catchy earworms before returning back to the majesty of the wide and soaring.
A major development was the collaboration with post-rock guru John McIntyre, with whose aid 2002’s “Tempo” was lifted to a new level of production and refinement. And this leap gave to Salvatore’s music the last touch that released all its beauty, vision and atmosphere.
McIntyre was again involved in “Luxus” from 2004, which was a more eclectic and perhaps more confined album.
“Days of Rage” is a title which seems to suggest denser, more blood-stained and human-centred music. But the eponymous track posted on the band’s myspace site tells a different story: the invoked vision is closer to that of sunless space, traversed by a chopping helicopter though, instead of a quiet galactic cruiser. Cut-up and tweaked voices point further to science fiction, but earthly sounds blend in too, making the entirety confused and distinctly darker than the aforementioned meteorology, as there is no weather in space. Not much is revealed about the forthcoming album. But come 2007 fans of this exciting band will find out what the rage amounts to.