So yes, I was quite curious to see if Phantoms vs Fire can keep his promise. This Italian one-man project, founded by multi-disciplinary artist Thiago C. Desant delivers a thirteen track album, showcasing his multi-instrumentalist talent and his love for atmospheric electronic music.
So I started listening to the songs closely. Opener 'Breathing' mostly seems to serve as an ambient inspired intro while title track 'Swim' sets a step in the right - downtempo - direction. Nice, but I was not impressed so far, not yet. That critically changed when 'The Beach House' started to play. There was the musical brilliance that can be compared to Bonobo and Tycho. What a track, definitely a highlight on this album, gloomy, downtempo and immersive.
'Nightmares And Dreams' seems to follow a similar path but often wanders off into experimentation, a bit like a child with an attention disorder. Again, not a bad tune but after 'The Beach House' I'm expecting perfection. 'Cinematik' answers to that call. It's a joyous blend of downtempo electronics and Radiohead inspired indie rock, something like that. By now, my opinion about this album is definitely nudging towards the positive.
Apart from the obvious influences, I can sense some interest in traditional Japanese or Chinese music, judging from the plucking melodies here and there. 'Atlantic' opens like that and then turns into something that feels like a modern version of synth pop. 'Nightwalker' takes the latter and twists it into something slow, gloomy and highly atmospheric. Well, perhaps now is the time to mention that this is quite a varied album.
'Starfish' was initially coined as one of the highlights of this album. My ideas are often different but this time I have to agree. This certainly has hit potential and can easily become a fan favorite, thriving on a steady, danceable beat. Another one of those smile-evoking tunes is 'VHS Hypnosis', followed by an equally playful 'The Gloaming Swell' and the weird 'The Invisible Sea'. I think "playful" is a good term to describe the entire album.
Well, that will be it. I described almost all the tracks here, except 'Underwater', which is actually one of my personal favorites and closer 'The Illusion (End Credits)'. I guess it's safe to say that 'Swim' is an excellent album, beautifully combining a wide array of instruments and influences. I'm especially curious for the future of this project. The talent and motivation seem to be present and if all goes well, this could become a name to be reckoned with in the near future.