Based in the Sicilian coastal city of Catania, Dario Aiello has plenty of chances to longingly stare into the endless deep blue of the Ionian Sea. It should therefore come as no surprise that his debut EP for NuNorthern Soul, Cosmic Sailing, is a six-track musical daydream about a kaleidoscopic sea voyage into the unknown.
Although his recording career as My Friend Dario is still in its infancy, Aiello has already made an impact. He won plaudits from Balearic-minded Bandcamp diggers for a string of self-released singles, before offering up a handful of inspired remixes and tracks on a number of releases on the admirably saucer-eyed Hell Yeah! Recordings imprint. Even so, his NuNorthern Soul debut is a big development, portraying him as an accomplished producer and musician with a gift for crafting colourful and inventive musical fusions.
Across the course of six tracks, Aiello perfectly sets out his mellow, warming, spacious and mind-soothing approach, smoothly navigating cosmic waters. Opener ‘Fenice’ sets the tone, with the Sicilian producer cloaking rising and falling synthesizer arpeggio lines in twinkling piano motifs, simmering chords and colourful electronic motifs. He channels the spirits of Italy’s turn-of-the-90s dream house movement and horizontal Balearic disco on the impeccable ‘Malvasia’, while ‘Mr Mellow’ sees him mix-up post-electro beats, pots-and-pans percussion and starry electronics to great effect.
Aiello’s varied inspirations come to the fore across the reminder of the EP. Check, for example, the rubbery and undeniably intergalactic 21st century boogie bounce of ‘Neve Su Acireale’, where Pat Metheny style jazz guitar flourishes, sparkling synth riffs and elastic slap-bass notes dance around a snappy, early ‘80s drum machine groove.
‘Campagna 2’ goes further, with the Italian smothering a deliciously crunchy drumbeat with warming chords and looped sax samples, while ‘Storm’ sees him calming choppy waters via fluid, slow-motion piano solos, sleepy beats, enveloping musical textures and a handful of atmospheric samples. It’s a breath-taking end to an EP chock full of evocative, ear-pleasing aural treats.
A1 – Fenice (6:52)
A2 – Malvasia (6:34)
A3 – Mr Mellow (6:28)
AA1 – Neve su Acireale (5:52)
AA2 – Campagna 2 (9:42)
AA3 – Storm (6:12)