During various COVID lockdowns over the last few years, some musicians, out of necessity, have been approaching the creation of music in ways they hadn’t considered before. For Italian composer Bruno Bavota and Dutch songwriter Chantal Acda, the origins of their forthcoming album A Closer Distance go back even before the pandemic shuttered the world. Enamored with each other’s sounds, they began a long distance conversation, never in the same room together, musing over musical histories and adorative melodies.
In Bavota’s crystalline piano compositions, Acda found a fellow traveler whose perspective on the world and how music can alter our perception of it fell in line with her own. And in Acda’s ethereal folk landscapes, Bavota discovered someone whose voice pierced through daily struggle and found resolution in quiet moments of glacial beauty. Much like distant stars in alignment, their aesthetics were perfectly positioned, allowing them to find a deeper understanding of their own emotions and abilities through the lens of one another.
A Closer Distance was initially imagined to be a simple EP, but as time went on and they continued to find new and exciting creative connections, the project blossomed and revealed itself as something quite extraordinary. This sort of disembodied partnership wasn’t completely alien to them, as each had experience working like this with other artists. But the natural comradery and musical synchrony came as something of a surprise to them. “This all came so weirdly natural,” Acda explains. “It woke up a part of me that had been asleep for a while.”
The album is a reflection of both Bavota and Acda, as it layers glassy piano arrangements around spectral voices in an attempt to highlight the complicated musical bond which developed between them. On new single “Sirens”, they capture a tranquility that can only come from people whose rhythmic outlooks line up just right, as Acda’s voice melds flawlessly with Bavota’s minimal accompaniment. Acda has stated that “‘Sirens’ is about the little signs surrounding us, showing us what path to follow if we truly listen.’
The track has an ambient-folk feel to it, as portions drift and lose their gravity before settling down like snowflakes on your arm. There’s a remarkable intimacy here, an emotional resonance that defies the barriers created by the distance set between them. According to Acda and Bavota, the exquisitely fragile guitar on the track was only supposed to be included as part of the track’s demo phase, as it was recorded by Bavota with two mics in his home. But after sending the recording to Acda, they both realized how essential it was to the song and decided to keep it in the final version.
Edited by Linda Russomanno from a collection of copyright free footage, the song’s video marries the music’s stark elegance against a background of wintry landscapes. We follow as a figure makes their way through vast fields of white juxtaposed with images of snowfall and natural waterways laid bare in frozen climes — all before we come to rest on a very snowy but very comfy looking couch.
“This track remind me of the winter atmosphere, a kind of parallelism between loneliness and snowy landscapes,” Russomanno says. “A solitary journey of a girl that ends with a couch that represents a safe shelter, a warm embrace, a place that could possibly be shared with somebody else.”
Perfectly encapsulating both the stark beauty of the song and the unadorned grace conveyed through its movements, the clip acts as an ideal visual conduit through which we can engage with the music through an impressionistic perspective.
Bavota adds: “[The video] soothes me as we’re experiencing an utterly bad climatic situation with extreme drought. The hope is that we will be able to live in an environment that has its balance.”