On his first longplay in four years, Pagliara combines the varying stems of his wide reaching audial language into a bountiful and joyous experience, one which would sit just right snuggled up at home or sweating it out on the most euphoria chasing of dancefloors.
There are certain producers who have clearly always thought about the spaces in which their music inhibits and have then explored to the utmost how this liminal environments persist both in the physical and emotional states of being. This understanding allows for all manner of experimentation and dynamism to take place which never seems out of sorts, but merely acts as a invisible rhythm that ties releases and discographies together, their development playing out so organically in front of us for all to enjoy. Massimiliano Pagliara is one such producer, a music maker with a deep reverence for both what has come before but with such a glorious understanding of how to bottle a deeply intrinsic sound that he has so meticulously curated over a superb production career to date. Pagliara's sound has always - to us anyways - inhibited a space that utilises emotional tools and motifs to maximum effect, with differing tempos and styles explored across the board, but it is the top layers which bind everything together. There is an inherent joy to his music, a spirit to proceedings that makes you feel, move and breath in certain ways, be it within some acidic masterclass or a sombre downtempo leaning number that makes you want to escape into the deepest maze within your own mind. Many of his records are able to move across this audial universe with ease, providing both music which would bring down any dancefloor going and tunes which soothe the mind on the move or at home. This is all achieved without anything sounding unusual or evolving in the wrong direction, quite the opposite as every new element found within the ever expanding space has a past to it, a lineage that makes everything believable and lovable. His profound love of synths and drum machines also gives everything a earthy and humanistic touch, with that added warmth coming through very strongly indeed on every release he has conjured up to date. Massi's world is one of compelling intimacy, a space where all are welcome and allowed to feel loved, held and caressed, the senses given a good work out and eased into a state of being that is endlessly meaningful. And yet, there is a satisfaction that comes both in the short term and long term, the knowledge that his sound offers so much yet will always offer more keeps us on side, and that is perhaps his greatest gift of all - a soundtrack that is effortlessly re-listenable and always looking forward, to new horizons and contexts, and for that we are eternally grateful. If you haven't gathered already, we regard Massi's previous releases very highly indeed, but if you want to wet your appetite we suggest checking out his previous two records, 2020's 'Nothing Stays in Place for Long' and 2021's 'Connection Losts Pt. 3', along with his 2018 LP 'Feel Live', all of which are truly special and give you a taster of how he constructions both his short form and long form experiences - they're all mind melters and emotionally charged journeys of the highest order.
And now we turn our attentions to his latest effort, the aptly named 'See You In Paradise', which sees Pagliara return to Permanent Vacation for his second record on the imprint. LPs are usually where Pagliara really capitalises on his broad reaching approach to style and content, with the brushstrokes really capturing a universe of moods that move swiftly from kick laden dance numbers through to the most exquisite of slow burners. This new effort is no different, with the luscious and delectable melodies that have come before very much up front and present, but there is a space here for plenty of beatless excursions to take place. This provides the record with a wonderful flow between the morning light and the evening sky, with the vocal work presented doing a wonderful job at pairing Pagliara's melodic narratives with spoken word ones, and the two work in symbiosis to evoke the most powerful of moods. As a total package it feels like it has capitalised on everything that came before and then some, with a distinctive freshness to the album that feels so emboldening and life affirming, and this is where we get the joy - a new perspective, a new experience, a fresh chance to appreciate Pagliara's talents and his ability to constantly morph the dynamics. To cap it all off, some good friends of his have joined along for the ride, including Fort Romeau, INIT, Coloray, Snax, Curses and Vanessa, all of whom add their own flair and talent into proceedings. A new perception it might be, but this is as classic a Massimiliano Pagliara album as you are going to get, and to us it represents perhaps his most ambitious record to date. So without further delay, lets dive into the meat of this impressive piece of music, one that will leave the winter air feeling that little bit warmer, as we take a trip into Massi's paradise.....
Up first comes 'Persistently There', and this one begins with the lightly evolving arpeggio to get things going. Their playful presence is added to with the introduction of the repeating metallic sound through the middle alongside some light, breezy chords that chime along within the right hand side of the pan, with an additional melodic line curving through the middle. With the stage set impeccably, time to begin with the meaty end of proceedings, and this occurs as the bass line slides into view that provides an appropriate level of thud, with the drums moving into view soon after to give everything that rhythmic gloss we were all hoping for. The ensemble now complete, the track now moves through the gears as transitions occur quickly between structures, effortlessly and passionately flowing from one kind of groove to the next, with particular care taken as to how the bass line interacts with the delicate melodic lines. The music ensnares you within its grasp, caressing the mind with its rising celestial sequences and cascading metallic edges, injecting a warmth into the soul that in many ways leads us along the road we are about to go on. 'Half-Time Dreams' comes next, which features INIT, and this one begins with the bassy chords to get things going on strong. The vocals make themselves known pretty early on, their presence inviting other elements to flourish within the mix, and as the words slide gracefully across the mid ends the drums come into view, and its as sultry as it gets. The swing of the Hip Hop Street Soul laden groove perfectly matches the glassy chords and switches in vocal delivery, as time seems to pass by slowly yet with a glorious canter to it all, a feeling found deep within that comes to the surface constantly. The track takes a wee breather at the mid way point, providing a space where the majority of the melodic layers fall away to give the vocals the full stage, before sliding right back into this hazy, wondrous meandering. Its a beautiful take on late jazz bar kissed groovers, and we are all for it.
'Reset' comes next, which features Fort Romeau and Coloray, and this one begins with that warm pad to get things going. The hats that feature right from the off are laid out in such a way as to indicate the rhythm of things to come, which is confirmed as the kicks and snares come into view to really get things going. Additional toms fill the space inbetween, and this is where the vocals come into view, their spoken word nature alluding to that special 80s new wave feeling, and this is when the powerful bass notes emerge to give a sense of depth to the groove. The second verse sees more of a harmony being applied to the track, as additional melodic features sparkle at the sides, glittering with intensity and in their own little way adding enormously to the feel of the progression. The track pairs the impeccable melodic and rhythmic pulse we normally associate with Paligara's production methods, and the hands in the air euphoria that comes when a suitable vocal delivery comes up over the top, and we are all for it. Top notch stuff. 'Snap Out' comes on next, with this one featuring Snax, and this one begins right from the off with some uptempo madness. The drums are classic Pagliara, filled to the brim with precision and energy, and as ever they are swiftly followed by the piano lick and the bass line, which slots perfectly within the grooves before being rejoined by the piano and the simmering backing synth line. Its hands in the air stuff, the most overtly joyous moment of the record yet, with the sequences swirling around the dancefloor with passion and fever, with the double time piano fuelling that part of the brain that craves the Chi-Town side of things. This rolls on and on, never faltering in its mission to make us feel and move, with the breakdown of sorts that arrives right in the middle of the tune giving us time to reset and get right back into the dance. The elements build up once again with meaning and drive, allowing us to move through the motions all over again, and its utterly mesmerising.
'Mitate' arrives next, and this one begins with a particularly reflective mood. The lead synth line loops across the pan, finding space on both the left and right as to highlight the energy that persists through the middle, its form wrapping itself around the listener in a delicate embrace. The piano that twinkles around the main sequence is an utter delight, with a mixture of chords and singular key structures adding depth, elevating the track to further heights of expressionism. We are guided around the soundscape by the varying layers, their insistence that we see it all so addictive, with the sax that comes into view yet another element for us to dive into. The reverbing chords also add much to the sense of scale, and lead us nicely into the second half of the track, a space where the swirls become that be more persistent and engrossing, as everything liquidises and becomes this perfected mixture of tone and texture. The lead synth line then comes into view once again, and this time it is joined by a more energetic series of piano chords, with the more passive and gentile feel from the first half replaced by a fantastical stream of passion that moves the body to new heights of feeling. A truly special track, this one. 'Pepper on the Tongue' is next, with this track featuring Curses, and the energy here emerges with the bass line. Out of the texture comes a movement with plenty of meaning and direction, with the kicks flourishing into life soon after to provide that ooft, and the vocals interweave themselves into the mixture not long after. The light blemishes that make themselves known within the blend, with the vocals continuing to lead the line, their presence perfected and really setting the tone. Drifts occur within the underbelly of the track that provide a sense of dynamism and keep the feeling riding up high, with the build that occurs around the half way mark hitting all the right notes once again, as we sway along to the lead of the vocals. Top stuff.
'Nocturnal Prowler' slides into view next, and from the off we know this one will burn a mark right across the evening sky. The tempo is fast and full of purpose, the glimmering metallic note that sits atop the beat eerie and foreboding, with the drumming lines that slide into view as time passes only adding to the intensity. The bass notes then come into view, their make up really fuelling the momentum as plenty of time is allowed for this structure to weave its way around the crowd. The feel of the track gives over a deep set notion of kinetic energy, which is only intensified as the swirling arpeggio comes into view soon after, which is quickly joined by sweeping chords that rest easy within the mix. The cymbals that come soon after add a final layer of density, their texture fuelling the groove and creating a climax to remember. That's one thing that Pagliara does so very well - releasing the energy at the right moment, and here we sweep through the crescendo and slide down into a superbly crafted pool of sounds, before launching right into the driving sound. Further textural excursions occur as fuzzy electronics emerge to push things onwards and upwards, and by this point we are fully on board. 'Intense Affectionate' comes next, and this one begins with the melodic stabs to get things going. The stabs are joined swiftly by the kicks, with the chords giving this sweeping reverb feeling which fills up the space elegantly, with the bass notes that join in soon after adding to proceedings enormously. The hats that slide into view fuel the progression, with the acidic notions that were by this point building for some time grow in stature to fill the top ends, a full throttle kind of affair that takes the breath away. The track slows for a moment before switching right back into things, this time giving full focus to the acid line, but the stabs are then moved back to alongside a killer addition in the form of an intricate drumming pattern that moves things into overdrive. Pure energy.
The title track comes next, which features Vanessa, and this one takes things down to a slower state of mind. The track takes its time to build, with a pulsating bass line kicking on underneath as all manner of glorious melodic elements smoothly groove around within the mids and tops, with the spoken word vocals that emerge beautifully conveying a soothing state of being, and it all works flawlessly. The two elements work in harmony, much like the rest of the album, a perfected balance between rhythm, vocality and melody, and this relatively short tracks captures the essence of this record perfectly. To wrap things up, we have 'Non Attachment', and this one begins with the arpeggio to get things going. The notes are fuzzy, shining light through the haze as they shift from the backdrop through to the top end, and much like with Pagliara's previous efforts in this style on this record the music never stands still, it simply meanders and flourishes through differing stages of being, and for that we feel blessed to be standing within such a delicate and moving soundscape. Its a fitting end to a record that showcases Pagliara at his very best, moving through the notions in providing a deftly balanced and highly charge musical experience, one which never fails to impress and always remains able to achieve the imagined and the real. A shift occurs on this record between where we were before and where we are now, and that space is Paradise - Pagliara's Paradise.
There are certain producers who build worlds that remain relatable to what we already know but also a space that remains relatively unknown to everyone other than themselves, and this provides the most bountiful of audial and spiritual experiences. Massimiliano Pagliara has made a career out of pairing imagination with the realities of life, merging the dancefloor with human emotion and energy which interlinks the club, the outdoors and the living room. His music is such that it speaks to something higher but also something indefinitely passionate and well conceived, a sound that always finds space for growth but always makes sense when it breaks new ground, such is the way his sound has evolved over the years. 'See You In Paradise', like much of his previous efforts, feels immediately fresh but also shares motifs that are dynamic and ever fluctuating, and here we feel the full spectrum of his sound come to the fore. You have the highly charged numbers which would be the business at 4am, you have the passionately woven slow burners that grip the edge of human experience, and the stand out vocal laden numbers which narrate alongside the musical chapters to great effect. In all it reads like perhaps the most impressive tome in the Pagliara discography to date, and we cannot recommend this experience enough to anyone. Everyone is welcome in the sunshine, so why not take the trip?
Support the troops: