Rancor:Succor by ChiaraOscuroRelease date: September 29, 2023
Label: Nefarious Industries
ChiaraOscuro, a clever play on the word chiaroscuro from Chiara Viscomi, uses the contrast of light and shade to great effect throughout the sixty six minutes of Rancor:Succor. She does a smart job of collecting titbits from a vast variety of genres, and is able to stitch them together into something new and refreshing. More so, this is accomplished without it feeling disjointed or another case of musical kleptomania, ensuring a fascinating listen from start to finish no matter if it is to your taste or not.
The atmosphere created is spectral, haunting, at times touching on the ethereal – particularly when Viscomi goes into full banshee-wail mode. So much of the album is drenched in reverb, both with effects added later and natural thanks to the recording studio residing in an old water tank. The depths it gives to the drones like ‘In The Manner of Serpents’ is delightful. With dual threads of rumbling, gently-distorted instrumentation and those ghostly vocals, it makes for a beautifully unsettling listen.
As we reach ‘Fishwife’ at the halfway marker, the lilting breeze of Rancor:Succor begins to drive forward with a touch more verve. The loose background ambience begins to separate and solidify into more distinct instrumentation; the menacing descending riff as the track reaches its climax both a counterpoint to the vocals, and the first hints of a darker undercurrent sweeping in. Even the sparse piano pieces nestled away at the back end exude this more menacing blackened heart, although not necessarily with the complete range of complex guile exhibited in what has come before.
In Rancor:Succor, ChiaraOscuro has managed to craft an exquisite piece of sound sculpting, one that takes a listener on a true journey – if they are willing to sit still and let the waves crash over them. This is a subtly challenging listen, though how exactly they manifest themselves will depend on the one experiencing it. And that makes this all the more rewarding.