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Caterina Barbieri

Spirit Exit (2LP, coloured)

Label: Light-years

Format: 2LP

Genre: Electronic

In stock

€32.00
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* Limited edition Silver Vinyl * The musical vortexes of Caterina Barbieri rewire time and space. Listening to the Italian composer and modular synth virtuoso has felt like traveling at light-speed and slow-motion all at once since 2017’s breakthrough double-album »Patterns Of Consciousness«. 2019’s acclaimed »Ecstatic Computation« pushed even further with the lead single »Fantas«, where a haunting melody hurtling towards its supernova climax felt like witnessing the life and death of a burning star. Far beyond any new age trope or modern synth trend, her music stands alone in its ecstatic intensity and cataclysmic emotional impact.

Marking the debut album on her new label light-years, Barbieri now delivers her most profound work yet — a journey through inner-space as vast as a universe and as intimate as a heartbeat. The »Spirit Exit« opens and we fall in.  »Spirit Exit« is Caterina Barbieri’s time machine, primarily composed with a modular synth rig she thinks of more like a mechanical fortune teller. Whereas previous releases were constructed on lengthy tours, capturing only snapshots of continually evolving works, »Spirit Exit« represents the producer’s first album fully written and recorded in her home studio amidst Milan’s two-month pandemic lockdown in 2020. It was during this extended isolation she found inspiration from female philosophers, mystics and poets spread across time, but united in their strength at cultivating vast internal worlds.

St. Teresa D’Avila’s foundational 16th century mystical text »The Interior Castle«, philosopher Rosi Braidotti’s posthuman theories and the metaphysical poetry of Emily Dickinson act as thematic anchors throughout »Spirit Exit«, imbuing a life and death gravity into the composer’s most perception-altering music to date.  More than any release before it, »Spirit Exit« crystallizes Barbieri’s densely layered, blindingly bright synth arrangements while introducing stunning new elements that feel as if they’ve always belonged. Strings and guitar flawlessly thread into the composer’s web of modular patches, while her revelatory singing voice often cuts right through them. Melodies remain Barbieri’s great passion and obsession — she thinks of them as knots she’s trying to untangle, existential metaphors formed through tensely spiraling arpeggios — and on »Spirit Exit« they grow as large as planets before cracking into atoms. Parts of one song can haunt another. The synth progression unraveling through »Knot Of Spirit« is reborn on »Broken Melody«, an explosive peak with vocals that flash like a lightning storm.

The sweeping “At Your Gamut” perfects the producer’s dramatic, slow-burning openers, but in her first ever use of sampling, it later gets crushed, accelerated and unrecognizably transformed into the ghostly hook surging through »Terminal Clock« — an otherworldly sound rushing across what feels like the artist’s first track for a dancefloor.

 Caterina Barbieri’s music has always transported listeners, its perpetual movement achieved through complexities that needn’t be solved, but simply felt. »Spirit Exit« articulates that endless ascension — destination unknown, resolution always just out of reach — with a newfound humanity. It’s the result of a one-of-a-kind artist deeply reflecting on what music means to them, only to return with an even greater understanding of what it can be. As the album closes on »The Landscape Listens« — a song that approaches death with all the gentle grace of Brian Eno’s »An Ending (Ascent)« — it brings to mind the full line of Emily Dickinson’s poem »There’s a certain slant of light«. “When it comes — the landscape listens / Shadows — hold their breath.” »Spirit Exit« is a special kind of seance, an album so otherworldly and inexplicably moving it leaves even its ghosts in a stunned silence.

Details
Cat. number: ly001
Year: 2022
Notes:

The album is available as 2xLP, CDs and limited edition coloured vinyl versions

Crafted at home in a period of unusual focus, the Italian synthesist’s latest album feels like a reflection of a world gone haywire: one part prayer, one part screaming at the void. | Read more

Holiness has a way of creeping into unexpected spaces. Caterina Barbieri’s Spirit Exit, her first foray on light-years, the label she founded after 2017’s lauded Patterns of Consciousness, is proof that the same spirit that takes hold of you in a basement club can also reach inside the walls of a locked apartment while a virus ravages the city outside. In Barbieri’s case, the space was Milan, the time 2020, and the synth virtuoso’s latest project is an aptly named portal between chaos and transcendence.  Uncertainty lets the light in, and the Italian composer’s music, created on a custom modular synth that she thinks of “more like a mechanical fortune teller,” is incandescent with discovery. The songs are an unexpected but faithful reflection of a world gone haywire: one part prayer, one part screaming at the void. Layer by layer, Spirit Exit unfolds odd-couple pairings of electronica with elements inspired by minimalism, classical guitar, and machine learning. Her influences are as bracing as the songs themselves: St. Teresa d’Avila’s 16th-century mysticism, post-humanist philosophy, and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Listening to these sprawling, ecstatic compositions feels like pulling back an endless series of curtains—particularly on standout “Canticle of Cryo,” a seven-and-a-half-minute odyssey of high, plaintive vocals and arpeggios stabbed with rumbling bass notes.  As on previous compositions (like 2017’s excellent “TCCTF”), Spirit Exit is rich in slow builds and intense, polyphonic soundscapes that feel intimate despite their eeriness. But here, Barbieri trades length for depth, crafting eight arresting tracks that are more pointed and purposeful than in the past. “Broken Melody” is the shortest, at 4:26, and proves a visceral, fanged testament to how quickly these compositions can seduce. A

t its center is a melody that might’ve been borrowed from a medieval canticle, but it’s the texture she drapes over this foundation that imbues the song with its uncanny power—layers of fuzz and Auto-Tuned harmonies, mechanical notes pinging in the background. “Even if you’re gone, I will hold you,” she opens, high and reverberating, like a voice emanating from a cave.  Spirit Exit reflects subtle but important changes to Barbieri’s songwriting process, which she amended to fit the constraints of the pandemic. Where previous tracks took shape in concert halls and across tours, iterated and refined in community, she created this record in her home studio over a two-month period. The resulting album is taut and heightened, as captivating as her previous work but more condensed. The songs are an engaging intellectual puzzle, but they’re also incantatory and beautiful in their simplicity.  

WATCH  Föllakzoid perform "Earth" at NRMAL 2016  Barbieri’s dualities—holy and profane, ancient and newfangled, ecstatic and doomed—give Spirit Exit its potency. In pinging arpeggios and harpsichord-like tones, she finds a middle ground between a hymnal and a Wendy Carlos song, and in her eerily processed vocals, she nestles newfound emotional resonance inside electronic pulses. For music that evokes empty clubs and shuttered churches, built on patterns dictated by a “mechanical fortune teller,” its humanity is its most haunting quality.