Track By Track Guide: KARU – An Imaginary Journey

Photo Credit: Unolab.

Our ‘Track By Track’ guide sheds light on the stories behind some of our favourite artists’ music.

Italian multi-instrumentalist and producer Alberto Brutti, aka KARU, will release his new album ‘An Imaginary Journey’ on 18th November via Beat Machine Records.

KARU’s music flawlessly blends pounding double basslines, aberrant guitar riffing, and eccentric, almost shamanic sax outbursts with avant-garde electronic music, a plethora of samples (such as clips from documentaries about Afrofuturism), and frenetic drum sections.

With tracks inspired by the likes of Gauvajut new year celebrations and the Taklamakan Desert of Xinjiang Province, China, the Kalam tribe of Papa New Guinea, the African tribe of the Dogon, and more, the album explores the connection between music’s ancestral rhythm in tribal culture and the freedom of jazz and club sounds.

Below, KARU breaks down ‘An Imaginary Journey’ track by track.

Kalam: I chose Kalam as the opening track because it sums up the mood of “An Imaginary Journey”.

In the intro, the sounds are mostly passed through the double bass, whilst the vocals evoke the atmosphere of a ritual, the same voices that will appear in other tracks on the album. The percussion and the double bass set the hypnotic groove for almost the entire track like a mantra. The environment around changes evolves and transforms into a surreal chaos, ending with increasingly frenetic rhythms. And here, the journey begins.

Purulli : Purulli is the name of the New Year’s festival in the city of Hatti. The festival is considered to be the Earth Festival, where people want to revitalise the earth and overcome the doldrums of the Winter. I was inspired by this theme and decided to express it through tight drum rhythms, that gradually open up to melodic saxophones, ostinati, double bass and guitar.

In this track, my Charles Mingus influence is very explicit; Purulli is a celebration and wants to convey a sense of liberation towards a peace that is yet to be achieved.

Akita: In this track, the editing is strong and defining: the sax is harmonised, distorted double bass and drums out-of-phase, trying to keep as a focus our jam session and the interplay among the musicians.

Andrea (the guitarist) plays a jack plug, processing the sound through his pedal board, trying to emulate the cries of some animals.

The atmosphere is dark, but the saxophone creates a sensation of earthy air, as if it wanted to cling to something alive. This is the part of the journey where reality and imagination merge and plunge deeper and deeper into a trip. There are different versions of this song, unreleased, who knows, maybe one day they will be published! The journey continues.

Spears of Leaves: I took inspiration from the African Dogon people, inhabitants of the South East African continent, who use leaves as a form of superstition and a ‘spirit-stopper’ in their funeral rituals. In this case, ‘Spears of Leaves’ would be the equivalent of a thought-provoking weapon.

A fragment of the documentary “The Last Angel of history” by John Akomfrah is quoted in the track, which traces the matrix of blues and blackness to narrate the Afrofuturism movement that has grown from an African American current to one of global inclusion. Spears of Leaves represents the moment when my thoughts begin to blur, and the trip becomes more intense.

Niya: the song is inspired by the Taklamakan Desert located in the province of Xinjiang, China.
In this remote place, 1600 years ago stood the thriving city of Niya, an oasis along the famous Silk Road. The sax themes give light to a mystical, unreal place, and as the song progresses, the melody becomes more and more complex, with long echoes that intersect with harsh double bass plucking.

Towards the end, Andrea’s guitar becomes clean and tamed to communicate a sense of peace that is about to arrive.

Pneuma: Pneuma is where the journey started, which, to be more specific dates back to the pandemic period when I composed the track. The synth that plays in the intro is persistent and becomes the body of the whole piece. Mario’s saxophone evokes an ethereal atmosphere, Cristiano’s double bass and drums push a rhythm that changes and distorts over the course of the track. In the interlude, Kalam’s vocals appear, recalling the beginning of the journey, and Matteo’s synths start to become more and more intense. In ancient Greek thought, Pneuma indicates the ‘life principle’, and thus the ‘conscious life principle of every organism’. The finale is the musical representation of this thought, the climax is an explosion of sound and the awareness, perhaps, of a newfound peace. The journey has come to an end.

CF Smith

Permeating your ears with good music.

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