What do Bruno Bavota and Chantal Acda sound like?
The softest, most intimate and homely piano and acoustic guitar mixed with hushed indie-folk vocals.
The review of Bruno Bavota and Chantal Acda – A Closer Distance
As a fan of Chantal Acda’s solo work, I’ve become accustomed to hearing her voice wrapped around fragile and tentatively meditative indie folk. Often stripped back both melodically and production-wise, I was keen to see how collaborating with another artist would switch things up. Bruno Bavota brings his wealth of composition experience but interestingly slots into Chantal’s world of indie folk rather than take her in a totally different direction.
The result is ‘A Closer Distance’. A collection of warmly ‘in room’ recorded performances of an old piano, an acoustic guitar and Chantal’s vocals. Very little else is here and yet it is utterly captivating in its mood and delivery. It’s like you are getting a private concert. In the lead single ‘Still I’, you can hear the room creaking and footsteps or floorboards creaking. The piano is recorded up close and bleeding into the mics a little as if you are sitting in an empty room. The buzz of the ivories resonant off the wall and into your ears like it is in need of deadening treatments. It all makes up the rustic charm when you have that balanced with the guts of a piano clonking around your ears too.
Musically, songs are more direct and lilting as Bruno works his modern classical edge into the music. Songs like ‘Connecting Dots’ are warm and effortless, reminding me of Japanese countryside happiness. Songs often move around a simple three or four chord motif that is played tenderly on fingertips. “Slowmotion” is so light and lilting that the piano hammers are equally as loud as the notes themselves. Other songs like ‘Closeness’ are more like noise collages. Yes, there’s a riff being played out but Chantal’s cascading and layered vocals shroud the straightforward melody into a haze.
At no point does ‘A Closer Distance’ ever move away from its up close gentle minimalism. Even when the piano melodies are flowing and complex, such as the lush ‘Her Eyes’, the piano notes lack any attack so it sounds like a blanket of piano noise rather than any virtuoso being played. The final track on the album is an absolute work of art if you enjoy the idea of an album. Entitled ‘Everything Collides’, it borrows piano motifs and vocals from tracks we’ve heard before in the album and softly makes a swirling distant tornado of them all. It’s beautifully done and sells the fundamental idea of how all the audio on this album has been structured. You can be right up close to the sound but feel so much distance from it. The vocals often support a secondary melody throughout the album but they also sound elusive.
For anyone that loves intimate indie folk, Bruno Bavota and Chantal Acda have created a beautiful mirror pool. ‘A Closer Distance’ is one of those albums that chips away at you with catchy moments between swells of Saudade. Each time I listen to it, I come away feeling both comforted and numbed. Sometimes being understated amplifies everything and that’s the lesson learnt here.
Recommended track: Connecting Dots
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