Massimiliano Pagliara - Connection Lost Pt. 3 (Uncanny Valley, 2021)
In the latest instalment of the Connection Lost series, Pagliara reminds us of his wide ranging vision with four superb cuts that could shake the deepest of dancefloors and enrich the minds of all it comes into contact with.
Here at EG, we love a good story, and if that story is portrayed to us via sublime melodies, emphatic drumming patterns, and densely layered yet crystal clear compositions, then we are more than happy to jump onboard. It's for these reasons that we continue to find great inspiration and meaning within the works of producer and DJ Massimiliano Pagliara, who for a good while now has really refined his sound to one of impeccable standards and diversity, with the voice he has found through his music one of sheer majesty and beauty. Originally from Italy but now based in Berlin, Pagliara is a real fixture within the city as a resident at Berghain, along with overseeing his imprint Funnuvojere Records, which has only grown in strength since it's inception in 2019 under his wonderful guidance. Making music is just another string to his impressive bow, and since 2008 Pagliara has been releasing some pretty powerful tunes indeed, not just in the way it swerves and grooves but in it's audial quality, it's uniqueness in relation to harmonies and sonics, and the way in which so many genres seem to blend and merge at will so instinctively and incisively. Pagliara operates very much at the crossroads between House, Techno, Italo, Acid, Disco and Downtempo, with his style always looking to absorb tropes and feels from these differing strands to bring forth music of real quality and intent, with a positive notion running through every single cut he's put out there. The emotional value of his music is nearly unquantifiable, it's boundless energy and feel something you can hold in the palm of your hand and treasure indefinitely, and you can always return to the music and still feel like it can continue to offer you more and more. His discography is a testament to his desire of continually seeking new ways to transpose and blend genres together, of operating between the lines to see how deep chordal arrangements and drumming patterns work alongside one another, and to go above and beyond in helping to pull together beautiful atmospheres for us to get fully involved within. His audial identity as a result has become a singular voice within the contemporary soundscape, a mixture of softly spoken power and graceful momentums which help to keep the fire burning from start to finish, as we keep coming back to a journey that is filled to the brim with brilliance and meaning. The body of work that Pagliara has left to us is truly extraordinary, with many highlights to pick up along the way, with these favourites featuring from our last review, which include the wonderfully warm house leaning debut LP, 2011's 'Focus For Infinity', which crosses around the spectrum of blissed out tones and blended temps between the highs and the lows; the wonderful leftfield disco tinged EP in 2009's 'Toxic Love'; 2013's beautiful 'Magic Serials' EP; 2017's techno thumper 'Time and Again' EP; 2018's gorgeous 'Feel Live' LP; and finally, the exquisite 'Nothing Stays In One Place For Long', which landed in 2019. These are but a mere selection of Pagliara's finest recordings in our eyes, but there is infinitely more to get your teeth into, particularly if you approach listening to his music as a singular listening session, which contains further proof of the way in which he intertwines and merges his sound into a singular vision that constantly finds further room to grow. A sound bound to the grooves of House and Techno but with so much more contained within, it's range and scope something to behold as we continually swerve through the motions to arrive at new places we seemingly thought we knew, but now look over with a new collection of values and understanding. We lose ourselves in the music, our soul becoming one with the playful melodies and infectious drumming patterns, our hearts boundlessly moving within the confines of the rhythms, our spirits rising higher and higher as we are lifted by Paligara's narrative to the heavens themselves. We cannot recommend getting to know his music enough, and who knows, maybe you will fall in love with it too.
Perhaps the epitome of Pagliara's ability to pair meaningful concepts and narratives together within a sonic outlay is with his Connection Lost series, of which the brand new third instalment is the subject of today's review. The first two records, released in 2015 and 2016 respectively, see Pagliara at his most emotionally driven, his most playful, and for sure, at his most purposeful, with each cut that makes up these audial experiences providing so much on all fronts, appealing to the senses as we close our eyes as much as they provide rocket fuel for the deepest of dancefloors. From Side A to Side B we get the full experience, one that meanders through a plethora of rhythmic excursions and an explosion of brilliant vibrancy up above, with Pagliara's expert use of keys coming to the fore every single time, as we dive between the tracks with boundless enthusiasm. The music leaves you with a very special feeling inside, one where you feel as if the person behind the music has really communicated with you, the art they have presented to you comes with all their desires, their passions and visions melded into it, and like with all great art it comes with a hefty amount of space in which the listener can embed themselves within and hear all the little stories that narrate it all. Both Part 1 and 2 give you the fullest of experiences, and are perhaps Pagliara's most diverse ranging EPs on the market right now, and as if no time has passed at all, we arrive at the 3rd in the series, which arrives once again on the Uncanny Valley imprint. Whilst the first two records contained a deft blend of uptempo numbers with gorgeous slow burners, this record really pushes the extremes out to the outer limits, with Side A containing two utterly relentless slices of progressive Acid and House music which will have you moving in all kinds of directions, whilst Side B takes a much more quieter approach, but with equal excellence found in all corners. Two sides of the coin, two sides of the Paligara experience more like, an experience that will have you dreaming, crying and loving all over again, a delirious exercise in life's riches and it's emotional extents, and with these statements, lets dive right into this superb piece of music from the Italian maestro....
We kick things off with 'Unfettered', and we weren't kidding when we said that Side A was relentless, as we arrive right within the bubbling acid line and kick sequence to get us going. The double and triple times of the kicks gives you the impression that things are going to get a lot more dense from here, as the playful acid line is joined by an emerging wind from the back, with scattered metallic sounds moving across the bottom ends of the progression, and as the hats come into view we see everything crack up in terms of volume and feel, with the acid line moving further up the ladder as a light bass line also comes into view underneath. The track then swings into a high octane cymbal and clap structure, with our minds and bodies fully ensnared in it's captivating momentum, and just like that the climax arrives as we move back into the next phase. This segment sees the bass and drums get a run out by themselves, providing plenty of space for us to get lost deep within the movements that arise from every corner of the progression, and before long we are rejoined by the acid sequence and other elements that populated the first part of the track, with deep chordal sweeps adding visual interest into the mix. We then see a very effective key line align itself with the momentum, it's clarity and angelic character counteracting the dense masses that populate the ground underneath, but it's presence is brief and the time feels right to see the track out the door. What a showstopper this one is. Up next we have 'Forgotten Secrets', and this one also brings the fire very early on. The drumming pattern is incredibly well conceived, with the kicks flickering on the bottom left hand of the pan as the hats carve out a consistent line for themselves on the centre right, with sparse bell like elements and a repeating melodic note helping to craft little boundaries for which future elements can come into view - it's a wonderful beat. The kicks fall away for a moment, then the bass line slides into the picture with such grace, as a key sequence aligns itself with the top ends of the track, the momentum now really picking up pace as the volume of the keys grows with the claps thrown in to push us to the climatic edge. A slight transitional pause then sees a high line pad arrive in the backdrop, it's pitch perfectly backing up the blend of elements we have before us, and just as we feel we couldn't get enough of it all, everything is cut out to leave us with the kicks. The bass arrives soon after though, with the high octane hats coming into the picture not too soon after, as Pagliara begins to reconstruct his world all over again, with a new key sequence introduced here to add further emotional gains to proceedings. New and previous elements come back into view to create a very compelling outlay indeed, with rumbling key lines propelling the composition forward as all manner of energetic key lines intermingle on top with real meaning and beauty. This one is very special indeed.
Up next comes 'Iridescent Solitude', and this one begins with the introspective synths to get us going. The mood is immediately warm and filled to the brim with adoration, a glowing environment that resides just outside our window - or indeed deep within ourselves - and as time passes by the drums arrive to lift the keys into the groove, and it all comes together so beautifully. The ensemble flows on for a few bars, content in it's ability to soothe the mind of it's most worrisome ills, and before long we are joined by the bass line that cuts through the middle of proceedings, it's presence merging very well indeed with keys on top, but it's what happens next that really takes the breath away. Additional melodics start to flow out of the original chordal arrangement, their momentum subtle at first but then their expansive feel comes straight to the front, feeling it's way out to the mountain sides as our hearts begin to race feverishly, with the new key line that comes into the blend only taking us away even further. The way in which all the elements in this track get manipulated in regards to frequencies is really well executed, with this leading into the breakdown before launching itself right back into the main progression, with the guitar work of Jules Etienne making it's way into this next segment, it's grooves find a place so very well within Pagliara's melodic layers, as we drift away into the orange and pink hues of the early summer evening sky. Utterly beguiling, in every sense of the word. To wrap things up, we have 'The Empty Room', and this one takes the tempos down to a very sultry pace indeed. The drums have that kind of early 90s downtempo feel to them, breaky to an extent with a little bit of that Hip Hop fuzz thrown in for good measure, and as we nod our heads to the rhythm we see the beginnings of the melodic feels come into view. This starts off with the bass line that wraps itself into the space between the snares, with a high line key sequence swirling around the top ends, with stab like chords chiming along to the bass rhythms as we begin to immerse ourselves deep within the structure being presented to us. The scale expands even further as warm pads twinkle in the distance, their presence shining forth from the hillsides, and as their volume grows the track continues to evolve in the most breathtaking of ways. Pagliara is a master at the blend, where one structure seamlessly transitions into the next, with the beat keeping a consistency underneath which allows for the melodic features to swerve into the next phase of layering, with all manner of gorgeousness unraveling during these moments. After a short break we return with the initial melodic outline to get us going, with the secondary elements also throwing themselves into the mix as we prepare for one final climatic progression, as we look to soak up all the richness that this track looks to present to us. This one is fucking unreal, a timeless piece of music that wouldn't feel out of place on any of those amazing 90s IDM or downtempo compilations, and to see it presented here alongside more uptempo numbers is simply extraordinary. What a record.
Some producers just know exactly how their track will start, evolve and end, and the ways in which they reach these points is always exciting, as if they present chapters and stanzas for us to engage with on an audial journey through all there is to see. Pagliara's music, to put it simply, masters this method of conveying mood and emotion through the art of rhythmical and melodic progression, with his understanding of density and tone always at the highest of levels throughout, which provides to the listener a complete experience. His records are always fascinating as a result, both in terms of the production and technical value but also in the immediacy of the feelings we have when we listen, and when these two elements are paired together the music leaves a special mark on you. This new record is no different, with four cuts that do the business at both ends of the spectrum, be it deep in the dancefloor where the frequencies are geared towards total immersion in the rhythm, or the slowed down emotive cuts that you nod along to with a big smile on your face, everything here is catered for. It's this dynamic quality that will forever be a quality of Pagliara's music, a vision that explores not just one but many facets of dance music's rich traditions and comes out the other side with a sound that you could listen to for days on end. There are many stories in dance music, and Pagliara's might just be the most compelling narratives going. A fine, fine record indeed.
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