Album Review: Carla dal Forno – Come Around

[Kallista; 2022]

Moving from Melbourne to Berlin to London and, most recently, back home to Australia, Carla dal Forno has done a lot of work on her own. In addition to producing and recording her own music, she’s also started her own label, Kallista (named after a sylvan Melbourne suburb near the artist’s childhood home). Thriving on independence, she now arrives at Come Around, her most fully-formed LP yet.

“I really need solitude, and space and time, to sink into the studio and feel ready to write and record,” dal Forno told Vinyl Factory about her musical process in 2019. And really, “solitude, space and time” is an apt description of her music. It’s influenced by a variety of minimal wave music, with Young Marble Giants coming to mind as a fairly clear reference for her – with one major difference: YMG had three members. By contrast, dal Forno, on a track like “Side by Side”, makes a spacious atmosphere by herself with little more than a bass guitar, keyboard, some programmed drums and her voice. The results are dubbed-out and impressive.

Come Around’s title-track is probably her strongest earworm to date, a splashy, almost trip-hop gem which (unlike much of her material) radiates warmth. Elsewhere, indebted to the touching minimalism of albums like A.C. Marias’ One of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing) and Broadcast’s Tender Buttons, dal Forno’s bass guitar floats over echoing ambient sounds that intimate muffled thunder or the peal of bells.

As her 2018 EP Top of the Pops proved, Carla dal Forno has a knack for cover songs. Perhaps more impressive is Come Around’s lone cover, an interpretation of 60s psych-rockers The United States of America’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights”. Where the original bounced along with a garage rock backbeat and psychedelic effects, dal Forno’s version stretches out in peaceful reverie with her signature post-punk restraint. 

While the instrumentals “Autumn” and “Deep Sleep” are good mood pieces, they fail to connect as well as Come Around’s sung songs. Still, they are two of the shortest tracks here. Ending the set with aplomb on “Caution”, Come Around is a brief but strong showing of how Carla dal Forno has honed her craft: by sticking to the DIY spirit and following her muse, wherever it may take her.