Fabrizio Cammarata says that the songs featured on his new album ‘Of Shadows’ were written on the tours that led him from his native Palermo around the world. But this album gives the impression that Cammarata had retreated into a small, scantily lit alchemical laboratory to explore his own shadows deeply, recapturing himself in past and present interpersonal memories.
When performing live, Fabrizio Cammarata is one of those gifted artists who can unite a great number of human beings - with his voice and guitar alone – and evoke powerful feelings of happiness, but also mourning. He has done this over the past few years touring for his last album “Rooms” and as support for such greats as Ben Harper, Patti Smith, Iron & Wine, Devendra Banhart, Emilína Torrini and Lucinda Williams. Cammarata can silence large halls and encourage devout listening, with only his voice and some picked chords. When he played in clubs it has been known that the barmen occasionally switch off the loud humming refrigerators and listen.
On his new album, "Of Shadows" (produced in Palermo by Dani Castelar - Paolo Nutini, REM, Editors), Fabrizio Cammarata deals with the very personal interplay of light and shadow, "for that reason," the artist says “I personally have experienced these two sides personally very much, not only once in the context of a very intense, exciting, emotionally charged though ultimately failed relationship." But also on many meta-levels he considers this interrelationship between light and shadow, for example in the phenomenon of a solar eclipse - a phenomena which when broken down to an individual's level illustrates the light and shade in our daily lives. These excursions and explorations began with the song "Long Shadows" which was written and recorded on one night in Cordoba. The track opens ‘Of Shadows’ and features on summer 2017’s "In Your Hands" EP. All four tracks on the EP are accompanied by profound, dark-minimal video clips.
The "In Your Hands" EP manifested a dichotomy that reflected itself in the album: the duality of light and shadow (as well as their interdependence), the radical and brutal, which is counteracted by the romantic and sensitive, but also the oppositeness between physics and what lies precisely in the world of mythological legends. The sequel video to "Long Shadows", "Come And Leave A Rose" continues to concern itself with loneliness, perishing love and a scientific, or better alchemical, analysis of this, in conjunction with a quasi animistic sensitivity of nature and the universe.
All this is also reflected in the sound of the record, which sometimes is extremely reduced to its essential components, only to break open in a different way by means of deliberately and cleverly applied opulence. Introspective and expression duel in the melodies and in the lyrics, which in their poetic complexity would already work without Cammarata’s compositions. But not until the interplay with music, as well as the graphic and pictorial realization - for whose design and precision Fabrizio Cammarata collaborates closely with the Italian visual artist Ignazio Mortellaro, who is also active in the European electronic music scene - creates a total art work that in its sublime and significant complexity becomes much more than a stunning personal album, whose songs get directly under the skin.
The fact that "Of Shadows" plays with so many different levels is certainly a result of Fabrizio's origin. Palermo, the capital of Sicily, is a unique melting pot in Europe, which has been enduring for many thousand years. It is not only the ancient history of Palermo that is special and unique, but also modernity and present, with its elegant facets of the Liberty style, which give the architecture and the design of the classy-dilapidated port city an obscure image at certain times of the day. These are the details that are reproduced in the productions of the theatrical ensembles, or in the works of the artists of Palermo, a city where it doesn’t seem unusual to see Fabrizio exchanging songs with Irishman Damien Rice for an entire night on a terrace in the old town.
Fabrizio is clearly a child of this city with his personal look at music and the life described in the art, and yet he is not a naive folklorist. Similarly to some of his role models, including Bob Dylan, Fabrizio de André and Nick Drake, he always looks for new, but at the same time stands on the feet of great tradition. This is also reflected in the multi-faceted sound of the album that Fabrizio has recorded and produced together with the Spanish producer Dani Castelar at the Indigo Studios in the Palazzo Lanza Tomasi di Lampedusa, a studio that slowly developed into the island's musical hub.
Talking to Fabrizio Cammarata about his work, the conversation quickly becomes thoughtful and delicate. This is certainly due to the fact that he never considers his songs detached from other human and artistic processes. In Fabrizio, instead, a considerable variety of influences and inspiratory impulses in expression forms such as poetry and prose, film and performing art, composition and performance merge into a sort of "stream of unconsciousness". The imagination is based on actual stories, unexpected events and experiences made during travel, but also on the essence of interpersonal dynamics, which tell of a great love and a tragic separation. Sometimes it is a picture, sometimes a reminder or a line of text that get so anchored in his brain that becomes the beginning of something new. Where that stimulus directs him - to a song, a video or a short film, perhaps even to a writing a whole novel or working on a road movie - the creator sometimes does not know, at least at the very beginning of the process. Yes, there were already cases in which he realized only in the middle of the creative process that he was again sliding into a whole new project.
One example was the spontaneous soul album "Skint & Golden", which Fabrizio and his old friend Paolo Fuschi recorded between Manchester and Palermo in 2013. "Paolo called me one morning unexpectedly and had an idea: If I would like to come to Manchester and write a few soul songs with him, in the sense of the great music with which we grew up together." An album, whose drummer Adam Dawson is also to be heard on the new album by Fabrizio, came out, mixed in the then still brand new Indigo Studios.
Another example was a trip to Mexico in 2014, where he became more and more into contemporary music, but where he also imbibed and studied the pillars of the great tradition of that country. In particular, the music of the Mexican legend Chavela Vargas fascinated him, with the result that Fabrizio, together with the Italian singer-songwriter Antonio Di Martino, wrote a semi-biographical novel entitled “Un Mondo Raro” accompanied by an album with interpretations of songs of Vargas' repertoire.
The novel and the album has come out of a bigger project that has been smouldering for many years and, according to Fabrizio, "surely will come to an end at some point, an end that I myself have not yet known": a roadmovie called “Send You A Song”, where together with the Berlin-based filmmaker Luca Lucchesi, he documents his search for the mysterious figure “La Llorona”. "We've been working on this film for five years, taking new places and scenes into the dramaturgy, and I'm sure there'll be something that speaks for itself at some point." La Llorona has already appeared in the context of the new album - just an example of how the many different ideas and projects are mutually intertwined in his work. Even more, Fabrizio’s very own interpretation naturally connects Mexico and Sicily through a strong common relation to death and love.
And that's what Fabrizio Cammarata's music and lyrics, videos, and writings, thoughts, and chords are all about: they all carry this extra bit of magic, which cannot be explained. The best thing we can do at this point is to recommend listening to “Of Shadows” alone, giving yourself and the record space to contemplate (and, as Fabrizio says, best at night). Dare to dedicate your precious time in the frenetic daily life and business, and allow the many moments of light and shadow that release themselves from the album’s tones and chords to finally reunify to greater than the sum of their parts.