Massimiliano Pagliara - See You In Paradise

  • Larger-than-life melodies steal the show on an album that traverses Italo, pop, techno and nu-disco.
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  • The LP format is the natural home for the expansive type of production Massimiliano Pagliara favors. His three previous LPs—all released via his longtime Frankfurt home-away-from-home Robert Johnson—are treasure troves of campy Italo-meets-'90s-house ecstasy. Outside of his clubbier 12-inches, Pagliara gets to channel his inner pop maestro, working with vocalists and collaborators to make songs, not tracks. 2018's Feel Live is a particularly good example, featuring collaborations with the likes of Kim Anh and Peaking Lights. But from the moment the arpeggio and Metro Area-style strings hit on "Persistently There," the opener from his fourth album, See You In Paradise, those previous outings sound restrained, nearly monochromatic. Working across a variety of genres—from Italo to trip-hop to beatless jazz to techno—the songs on See You In Paradise don't build so much as soar with an Icarusian sense of abandon, happy to flirt with the sun if it means staying high just a bit longer. Of all the sounds Pagliara works with here, the most surprising is his look back to the post-electroclash years of the late '00s. This was after the ascendancy of Andy Butler and the summer of chillwave, right when Animal Collective was going electric and bands like Twin Shadow were receiving critical accolades. He conjures a similar vibe on tracks like "Reset" and "Pepper On The Tongue" with their slowed, chuggy hand drums and elastic melodies. Even the vocal patterns on "Reset" have the stylings of that time: a nearly shouted refrain and a stumbled lead-in of half rhymes, "So come on over/closer/read my mind/I'm dreaming/over and over," remind me of "I Believe"-era Simian Mobile Disco. If that 00s dance pop doesn't do it for you, though, don't worry. The smoky trip-hop of "Half-time Dreams," made with INIT, evokes the slowed romance of his slept-on disco house classic, "Don't Give Up On Love." Need some peak-time techno? The crashing chords on "Intense Affectionate" could have been released on Len Faki's Figure label. Anthemic piano house? "Snap Out" is pure post-UK acid house euphoria. How about a meditative jazz number? The beatless "Mitate" is filled with ascending scales, loungey piano keys, and a saxophone that oozes amber colored booze. No matter the genre the synth work on the record steals the show with its crystalline shine. It's a long-running joke how clean Pagliara's home studio is. But it's also telling, giving a sense of the care he has for his music. He's cited his mentor (and occasional collaborator) Daniel Wang as helping him fall in love with synthesizers. The synths on See You In Paradise pay homage to Wang in subtle ways. They have a fizziness to them, like exploding pop rocks, as they burst into new colors and constellations. But whereas Wang's synths have touches of FM static, Pagliara's are polished so that even when he adds a touch of reverb—like on the flickering title track—the reference sounds more Jeff Mills than Giorgio Moroder (Vanessa's lyrics help: "Only a few memories from earth while we hide away"). See You In Paradise reaches for the pantheon of poppy dance record greats. Pagliara balances his quirks and Casablanca Records-style flair with 2022 club aplomb to invite us into a universe that's both singular and expansive. He creates his own little cosmology of daring melodies and loose Italo drums as a competing cast of secondary characters arrive for cameos that enhance but never detract from Pagliara as the star of the show.
  • Tracklist
      01. Persistently There 02. Half-time Dreams feat. INIT 03. Reset feat. Fort Romeau & Coloray 04. Snap Out feat. Snax 05. Mitate 06. Pepper On The Tongue Feat. Curses 07. Nocturnal Prowler 08. Intense Affectionate 09. See You In Paradise feat. Vanessa 10. Non Attachment