The music starts and I can't help but notice at once Agalloch's strong influence on "Circles", the debut by Barrens, solo project of Luca Dalpiaz (known in the Italian underground as the bass player for both Medea and Maraiton). The music, the atmosphere, and even the visuals remind me of the creature from Oregon and other mixtures of folk, ambient and black metal. This demo features two tracks for about twenty minutes in total, and the influences are quite clear, with the acoustic guitar accompanying Dalpiaz's scream in a texture of distortions and effects.
The scenery in the artwork, in all its darkness, clearly maintains a mediterranean feeling. We are neither confronted with the majestic mountains of the Cascade Range, nor with the indented coasts of Northern Europe, we are enshrouded by what seems the yellowish Tuscan countryside instead. Actually, the metal part of this work is not that invasive, with a stress on the acoustic and atmospheric passages; the percussions remain on the background and seemingly distant, even when they get faster. As Dalpiaz himself stated, this album features a big "sciamanic" element (very common both in folk and ambient) that also reminded me of the Finnish act Nest. On this demo, the Tuscan musician has worked on all the aspects including production, giving a strong personal imprint to this new project.
The atmosphere in "Circles" is apocalyptic, the relationship between individuals and nature got more and more trampled by an invasive and shameless society; this album is an attempt at recovering our seemingly lost atavic connection with the earth.
Barrens is currently working on a physical release for the beginning of 2014, and I must admit I am quite curious about the future endeavors of this band, which is treading on paths rarely beaten by other Italian musicians. Recommended to fans of hybrid music, mixing folk and ambient with a slight tinge of black metal.