Valerio Marras plays guitar in bands such as Thank U For Smoking, Charun and Spheres.
On this his solo debut Marras, who presently lives in Sardinia, has decided to explore a variety of concepts with a very special piece of guitar based ambient of a type that defies genre definition. Apparently, in the Sardinian dialect, “a bolu” refers to speed, ease and flight. A Bolu, in C, then, utilizes a guitar and some electronic ambient sounds to create a sonic journey through the landscape of Sardinia. Since the CD comes with one of ten nature photos taken especially for the release by Sardinian photographer Bobore Frau, the journey is in part an audiovisual one.
So, what do we have here? It is clear that a competent musician can do a whole lot with a guitar and a little electronic equipment, because this is one varied journey. The album has only one track, 37 minutes long. This track contains everything from quite straight forward guitar work with little else going on, over rough, borderline dark ambient parts with distorted fuzz added to the mix, to delayed and reverberated, hazy dreams floating by like clouds in the Sardinian sky. The fact that it has been made entirely without synthesizers is sometimes difficult to understand.
The purpose of the album, as made clear by both artwork and the actual music, is once again to explore and express the natural landscape of Sardinia. This reviewer has never had the pleasure to go there, but has no doubt that S A R R A M hits the mark quite well. The music often calls rather epic views to mind – mountains, not least – but it is also, at times, a bit more tender. A mushroom or two surely hides somewhere in there, along with the deep forests and the majestic, Italian night sky.
S A R R A M is what could be called serious experimental – you don’t have to be very well versed in the six strings yourself to hear that there is much musical talent hiding even in the noisiest parts of this album. That doesn’t mean this is just some jazz musician showing how great he is with his guitar. Rather, the technical skills have been submerged into a deeply emotional tribute to a landscape, in a way that many other musicians probably would struggle to make work.
If you miss out on S A R R A M, you miss out on some very strange, very beautiful music. So don’t.