Martin Del Carpio is an experimental electronica artist hailing from New York. His music is a unique hybrid of electronica, avant garde, spoken word and musique concrete, as well as occasional songs which he performs lead vocals on himself. Previous releases include 2011’s X album, followed by Goddard in 2013. A retrospective compilation called Lost Illusions was released in 2014, while 2015 saw the release of an experimental music project called Notes From The Underground.
This album, Involution, is a ten-track concept album that was strongly influenced by the passing of his mother and the spiritual/existential questions it raised. Fundamental to understanding the album is Carpio’s belief that we are essentially spirits, forms of energy that survive the death of our physical body, which is reflected in the music. After the short, poignant intro the hard-hitting industrial electronica of Dolphox seizes the attention.
Phosphorus is an instrumental that has a mystical, otherworldly aspect, achieved partly through skilled use of reverb. Gradually a beat emerges, with a haunting piano melody repeated till the end, which creates cumulative power. Alma is perhaps the centrepiece of the album, featuring a spoken word monologue that asks the deepest existential questions of the human condition: “What is behind the stars? What dark invincible sphere lies there?“. It’s an extremely powerful and thought provoking piece of art.
Camera Obscura continues the spiritual theme, recanting a Christian prayer in a whisper over an evocative, mysterious soundscape. Say A Prayer then surprises the listener with sung vocals for the first time. The moving lyrics are about feeling a spiritual connection regardless of belief: “Say a prayer in your heart, even if it doesn’t make sense…”.
Witchery is an unsettling but inventive piece of electronica, reminiscent of the claustrophobic intensity of Massive Attack. This is contrasted perfectly by the hymn-like purity of November (Black Rose). It’s a heartbreaking elegy for his mother, sung beautifully. The lyrics manage to be both dark and uplifting at the same time: “Oh black rose will you sing? For the heart beats no more…”.
The following I Only Want You To Love Me (Letter to the Father) is another spoken word instrumental that is brave and unflinching in exploring the difficult emotions that follow the passing of a loved one. The final song Ashes is, again, a very affecting and beautiful piece of music. It consists of just an a capella vocal, lyrically a sort of spiritual mantra that celebrates his mother’s passing as part of nature’s cycle of life: “I give these ashes back to the earth, to nourish lands and skies above.…”.
Overall, this a unique artistic expression of dealing with grief and the soul searching questions that experience raises. It’s a difficult and emotive subject handled with great sensitivity and emotional honesty, much to his credit. He has developed a musical oeuvre that is very individual, and the eclectic nature of the music is held together cohesively by the central theme of the album. It’s essentially a work of art that will move anyone who hears it and challenges the listener as all good art should do.