Released worldwide on 18 November 2022, “Barock” is Golden Salt’s first original album. The album’s title combines “baroque” and “rock,” cleverly reflecting the duo’s cross-over style. Although most of the tracks have been singularly released and have been available for a while, the album’s first track, “Crystal,” is entirely new, and “Piuma Nera” (Italian for black feather) is released in the most stunning arrangement to date. Adding to my previous reviews of “Minuet of Madness” and “Rustica,” this post on “Barock” contains the review of “Crystal” and “Piuma Nera.”
“Barock” contains all seven original compositions of the duo formed by violinist Arianna Mazzarese and electric guitarist Eleonora Loi. The tracklist, in order: “Crystal,” “Minuet of Madness,” “Piuma Nera,” “The Fortress,” “Ballad of the Crow,” “Rustica,” and “Black Feather (Dubstep Remix)” – resulting in just over 24 minutes of pure musical brilliance. The refinement of Golden Salt’s cross-over style, unrelenting search, and ultimate recognition of an inimitable musical footprint is palpable throughout the album. Listening to “Barock” is effortless and satisfying, taking the listener on a suggestive journey amidst emotions, strength, power, resilience, and awareness, leaving no room for distraction – only for reflection.
I was privileged to listen to “Crystal” ahead of its official release as part of the album “Barock” during Golden Salt’s recent trip to the United States. I wrote this review a few hours after listening when the imagery and the impressions this piece prompted formed a rough-and-ready sketch, which translated into tentative words. The absolute pleasure of witnessing the duo’s musical artistry and undeniable talent in person made writing a review an automatic reflex and immediately straightforward. Golden Salt’s live performances add another dimension to their compositions, elevating what is glimpsed by simply listening to their music to an unparalleled appreciation of their musical and individual energy and liveliness. “Crystal” is Golden Salt’s best composition to date, in my opinion. It expresses how the duo has reached the next level of their identity: a wonderfully refined, resonating dynamism with rich depth with every note.
I wrote down, quickly and messily, the impressions and emotions prompted by what my mind imagined, felt, and heard when listening to “Crystal” for the first time: “A relentless, quiet voyage on a slow-moving conveyor – an auto-walk through a process of emotions and thoughts that become quickly organized into a melancholy yet lively form that invites finger-snapping and a new appreciation of this perfect marriage between classical and rock. As the tempo quickens, the absolute joy of life permeates the atmosphere. It expands, filling the surroundings and bouncing through an inviting, surprising, and welcoming resonance, and the soul vibrates at the same frequency. Like an aquifer, notes burst atop a melodic surface, gaining speed, dimension, and volume as they oscillate from one instrument to another with effortless shapes, securing momentum, hurling themselves into an irresistible flow of lyrical creativity and unabashed merriment.
One by one, these multiplying musical droplets become part of a well-defined structure, a naturally forming, uncomplicated yet majestic composition that results in a highly structured solid, taking shape to remove impurities, turning fluid notes into a solid, organized beat and opacity into a crystal-clear intention. The freedom of movement prompts a genuine, spontaneous desire to join in and be part of it, building upon the immediate and intuitive understanding that inertia is impossible and resisting this humble yet compelling invitation is pointless. Golden Salt again dares us to explore a beaten path and see it in a completely different light – and does so brilliantly.
The symmetry – sameness – of a heartbeat beating differently yet similarly from being to being is elemental, forming a regular pattern common to all. This composition returns us to a pure state where everything is just as straightforward as that initial spring. Through a – perhaps – negatively charged, thunderous, yet simultaneously positively charged gentle ride, much like a crystal, we are left balanced, regaining the energy we expended to travel, but this energy is now given back devoid of all impurities. A new start with a clear mind, a unified beat, a renewed purpose to breathe deeply, changing our perspectives and propelling us forward with an untainted mind. Smiling.”
A few months after the release, the original thoughts have not changed after listening to “Crystal” in different situations and times of day (at home, in the car, by oneself, with friends, during daylight, at night, etc.). If anything, they have found new depths and a refreshed appreciation of the composition. Additional contrasting elements of darkness and lightness, depth and width, and perfectly timed slowness and fastness are revealed. Many images come to mind, and many parallel storylines.
Throughout the original compositions in “Barock,” this listener’s silly reference to Φ combined with a humorous hint to a Fibonacci sequence seems to find its unlikely proof in “Crystal,” yet one has consistently appeared in my mind when listening to this piece, making me smile because it is borderline deferential toward the mathematical background of the duo: the golden ratio or Φ – oddly evoking, in this case (writing this tongue-in-cheek) strings on their instruments? Strange? Of course, it is, but no less probable – based on the Improbability Principle by statistician David Hand. This short, irrationally rational tangent aside, “Crystal” remains the track in “Barock” that I love the most.
What has inspired this piece? Golden Salt may reveal the answer to this simple question and many others in time: something to look forward to.
The most beautiful piano intro to “Piuma Nera” is bound to make the heart skip a beat with unexpected happiness. The violin and electric guitar virtuosities complement one another, being balanced and instinctively synchronized, transforming quickly into four-part harmonies with perfect intervals and cadences. A stunning arrangement of pitch range along the sudden, gradual rises and falls – a music theory class in flawless motion. This mesmerizing whole orchestra piece, with classical morphing into rock and back, gets under the skin quickly and is destined to be welcomed and stay there like a long-awaited and energizing guest.
“Piuma Nera” reflects the impeccable blend between baroque and rock – as the album’s title daringly and confidently infers. Golden Salt has composed and arranged “the” piece that is the unique, spot-on signature of their style. While the original “Black Feather” and the following “Black Feather (Dubstep Remix)” are fetching, “Piuma Nera” is the absolute quintessence of Golden Salt and a paradigm for their cross-over style: a lesson in compositional brilliance. The skillful use of many instruments in the four families produces an almost impossible score, yet it is alive and well.
Golden Salt’s Arianna Mazzarese and Eleonora Loi – their names should be spelled out fully after this piece – can proudly take a bow and smile contentedly as composers, musicians, and producers. They deserve a standing ovation: I am giving them one, and so should you.