The Bells of Spring
It’s rare that a music writer can cross the great divide between words and action and become a compelling musician. (Peter Laughner comes to mind immediately, and then…) It’s just as rare the other way around, for a musician to become a compelling record reviewer or historian. Anthony Pappalardo is one of those lucky few. An overview of his career would make the most manic overachiever feel like the dude in the old Charles Atlas comic ads getting liberal amounts of sand kicked in his dumb loser face. He’s performed with straight-edge hardcore stalwarts In My Eyes, written with Max G. Morton, penned the hardcore history-through-artifacts Radio Silence, works with the VDSQ label, and now has reinvented himself again as Italian Horn. Goddamnit, what am I doing with my life?
Well, what Pappalardo is doing with his life is writing albums of affecting lo-fi shoegaze that gets covers designed by Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices. The songs on The Bells of Spring avoid the majestic sprawl of the likes of Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, instead going for a more barebones, more uptempo dive into the depths of heavily reverbed introspection. Italian Horn keeps it brief; heavy on the C86isms of Black Tambourine and Pond but also wonderfully redolent of early Ride and Field Mice. The album shimmers through a gauzy but thin sheen of delay and distortion and is all the better for it. Around 15 minutes and they’re out. How can one combine absolute economy with absolute decadence so easily?