Recording as Quarry, Italian musician Vittorio Tolomeo works his way through craggy alt-pop landscapes and scenes of indie rock furor, with brief detours through a more intimate singer-songwriter aesthetic. He rarely lingers in one musical sphere for long, opting instead for dalliances that offer him a larger rhythmic palette from which to draw upon. These detours occasionally find him embracing a more muscular sound, as on his latest album, Positioning the Sun, which allows him the room to wander through different genres without laying allegiance to any one specific lineage.
He seeks a balance in his music, highlighting both the darkness threatening to engulf us at any given moment and the light that can fill our hearts. This new album gives him the ability to move through time without encumbrance, to see our lives as more than just the random flashing of brief experiences. There is purpose, even when the shadows are keeping our joy just out of reach. Fueled by pandemic isolation and a general sense of social malaise, these songs were a way for him to attempt some sort of connection with those within earshot, to find some way to hold on to each other when circumstances are pulling us apart.
On recent single, “New City Comes Along”, Tolomeo churns out a blistering barrage of riffs that howl into the darkness of the world around us. Written not long ago, well after the rest of the record, the song was inspired by the atrocities happening in Ukraine and the senselessness of war in general. Anchored by his impassioned vocals and a ragged sense of urgency, the track asks us to reconcile destruction on this level with a government’s ability to justify such an attack in the first place. Recalling the primal fury of Black Flag or Dead Kennedys — but wrapped up in a melodic alt-rock aesthetic — it’s the kind of song that calls for change, for accountability, and for hope in the face of terrible indifference.
Tolomeo describes the inspiration for the song: “A city devastated by bombing, reduced to rubble, is one of the most heartbreaking things to see. How many stories, behind those scattered bodies along the streets, those destroyed buildings that were warm houses to families. I wrote this song thinking of a beautiful city like Kyiv falling into ruin, but could be any city destroyed by warfare. New cities will come along through the skin of the razed ones.“
“Musically, ‘Positioning the Sun’ is such a multi-coloredalbum,” he says. “But the “punk side” was missing in the other tracks. So I knew from the first guitar riff that I was going to write something that could be considered a fighting song, a song about combat, where The Clash’s punk rock revolt is followed by a chorus of hope.“
Directed by Vincenzo Campisi and Quarry, the accompanying video recalls the grainy black-and-white clips of the early ’90s, low budget treatises that turned threadbare budgets into anti-capitalist credos and picked apart the war-mongering attitudes of politicians and corporate benefactors. Between passages of the band ripping through the song, we get random clips of children’s choirs, elaborate variety program performances from many decades ago, and glimpses of military propaganda. It’s a stark reminder of how mired within the larger militarized perspective our society and those around the world have become.
Watch the video for “New City Comes Along” below.
Quarry’s new album, Positioning the Sun, is out now on Lowfieye Records. Follow the band on Facebook and Twitter.