Boomkat Product Review:
Luminous and reflective ambient pop opus from Alessio Natalizia on a career-defining outing as Not Waving, featuring contributions from Romance, Marie Davidson, More Eaze and Spivak, plus a posthumous appearance by occasional collaborator Mark Lanegan, R.I.P.
Poised and heartfelt, ‘The Place I've Been Missing’ feels like the culmination of Natalizia’s almost two decades work as a producer, songwriter, prolific collaborator and label founder, bringing together ostensibly disparate stylistic elements gathered on his travels over the years. Comfortable in both colourful pop and downcast modes, here these two ends of his repertoire come together in a way that’s perhaps eluded him in the past, marked by the passing of time and the joyous - and then suddenly painful - undulation of life as we get older.
It’s that sense of ambiguous hopefulness, of joyful melancholy, that flows through the album’s veins, where the unforgettably hooky, heartbeat-shaped ‘Fool’ sits alongside the FM synths x trills anthem ‘Running Back To You” with Romance, and the trip hop swoon of ‘Again and Again’, featuring Spivak. In the spaces between, Natalizia paints in bluer shades: 'Never Let Me Go' is a nebulous scramble of purring chorals and epic, Hollywood strings; 'The Distance Between' clicks rickety piano improvisations into minimalist repetitions that dissolve into slow moving field recordings; and 'Waiting For You To Notice Me', finds More Eaze’s fluttering AutoTune gliding over a delicate piano that's brushed into a dense, harmonic crescendo.
Although it’s not made explicit, it’s not hard to read between the lines and hear ‘The Place I’ve Been Missing’ as a tribute to Natalizia’s pal Mark’ Lanegan, who passed in 2022. On the album’s penultimate, longest track ‘I Found You’, Lanegan appears as if captured in mid conversation “…do I seem dark to you?” he asks, before sparking up over almost baroque acoustic guitar. Across its eight minutes, the piece gradually erodes until all we’re left with are trace echoes of Lanegan’s voice and a solitary, frozen piano.
Finally equipped with enough life and creative experience to imbue his work with a real sense of emotional honesty, ‘The Place I've Been Missing’ is likely the most subdued and personal work of Alessio Natalizia’s long and varied career thus far, but also the one that somehow feels most complete, packed with unforgettable songs.