Raw Emotion and Ambience: Ascesa – Chasing Dreams

Dario Lupo might just be the busiest recording producer in Berlin. 

Under three different monikers – Katahimikan, Need a Name and Chasing Dreams – the Italian musician has been constantly releasing variants on his electronic ambient sound since 2010.

With such phenomenal output (17 albums, EPs and one-off singles listed on his website – and that’s just what’s actually been released), you’d be forgiven for thinking that the quality would be compromised at some point along the way. In fact, each offering has offered even more intelligent and intriguing composition than the last, and Ascesa, due out on 6th June 2018, is no exception.

Ascesa (Italian for ascension, or rising), is an epic ethereal journey, featuring twenty tracks and a total running time not far shy of the two-hour mark.

Ascesa (Italian for ascension, or rising), is an epic ethereal journey, featuring twenty tracks and a total running time not far shy of the two-hour mark. If you think this lack of brevity might be off-putting, try telling that to Lupo’s seventeen thousand followers on SoundCloud – a platform where several of his previous tracks under Chasing Dreams have racked up tens of thousands of listens.

This album is the first under the Chasing Dreams name since 2016, and you’d be forgiven for obsessing over just what might have happened within that time for the result to be such a mature and engrossing collection of music. Lupo himself describes the writing and recording period as being ‘before, while and after embracing an emotionally dark place, it’s part of one’s journey to self-awareness’. There is darkness here for sure, but it’s the emotional uplift that weaves its way in, especially during the second half, that will really stay with you afterwards.

‘There’s love, anger, rumination, meditation, and realization’, Lupo’s description continues. The album is ‘a lingering, gentle, pensive rise presented as a melodious milkshake of stories, experiences, and feelings’. (What do you need me for, when the sleeve notes are this poetic?)

there’s something about the scale of this album that makes it even more painfully addictive

In the wake of another Jon Hopkins release in recent weeks, it’s easy to draw parallels between the work of that particular Brit and the thoughtfulness and dark creativity here on Ascesa. But there’s something about the scale of this album that makes it even more painfully addictive. Lupo even advises in the notes that listeners take a break halfway. Yet to do so might obscure the craftsmanship that sees the atmosphere transform with the start of the first single ‘It’s Wonderful Out There’, which sets the soaring tone for the rest of the work.

The sleepy, at times minimalist approach and simple instrumentation in earlier tracks like ‘Languages’ and ‘As Pictures Flutter Into Dust’ are replaced by the emotional but euphoric ‘Healing Process’, with its slow churning pace and ambient burrs that epitomise the feel of the album.

Ascesa is above all a deep and personal reflection, and is testament to a deftly honed skill in translating emotion into tangible, audible art. Enjoy this album like you would a swim in the sea, or as Lupo suggests ‘a long climb’. It’s worth it at the top.

You can pre-order or pre-save Ascesa, released on 6th June 2018, by following this link.

Check out more recent IndieBerlin album reviews here.

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Luke began writing about music for his university paper while studying in England’s cold, post-industrial North. He became a regular reviewer of new releases, live shows, theatre and film, before moving to the big, grey blob of London. He has written indie and electronica reviews for indieBerlin since arriving in Berlin in 2017, while pursuing other freelance writing, editing and communications projects (and struggling to learn German). You can follow Luke here and read his recent reviews here.

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