The musical world of Salvatore Mercatante is a mysterious and darkly brooding one. Working in the world minimalist synth, ambient, and Giallo, Mercatante locks into emotions and visceral experience when he composes. His work puts me in mind of Maine, another synth maestro that goes for feel and the musical journey over aping what’s come before.
The last I heard from Salvatore Mercatante was his excellent Giallo album Il Lamento della Strega, inspired by Italian folklore. Mercatante has returned, this time on the excellent Castles In Space, with the subtle and shadowy The Foundations Of Eternal Sin. Salvatore Mercatante relies on simple percussive beats, wavering synths, and lots of space between the notes to give us a record overflowing with mood, vibes, and an undercurrent of danceable dread.
The theme behind the album is explained here by Mercatante himself:
The album is about humanity falling from grace and losing the pillars of what makes us human. The “Foundations” listed in each step bring us through that journey, starting with turning our backs on benevolence. Foundations two, five and seven being physical places along the journey that we stop at, the citadel (Foundation Seven) being the final stronghold of human empathy and understanding. It’s not about the end of days or the apocalypse, this is an internal struggle. Society will still move forward but with the loss of the human soul. This is something I fear every day – but there is beauty in the fall and a hope that we one day may recover to find what made us human in the first place.
Mercatante takes our sins and turns a mirror on them, giving us a firsthand shot at the monsters we create and how we may find our humanity once again. Given this current year we’re all still being constantly beat up by on a daily basis, an album about losing ourselves and our humanity seems pretty apropos.
Each track is a “foundation”. “Foundation One: Betrayal Of Benevolence”, “Foundation Two: The Cave”, and all the way up to “Foundation Eight: The Question Of Obstinacy”. It sounds pretty heavy, I know, but once you lock in to the low key vibes Mercatante has created here you you get lost in the record’s world. The beauty here is in the space between the notes. There’s an airiness to the record; a slow sonic swirl of hypnotic synth and percussion that lets you lock out the outside world for the album’s runtime.
Stylistically, this falls into the quieter moments of Depeche Mode, The Sisters Of Mercy, and the aforementioned Maine. I feel The Foundations Of Eternal Sin could be a sister album to Maine’s excellent V from 2018. Gothic undertones mixing it up with melancholy, baroque electro tracks. Those are the flavors here.
From the murky doom of “Foundation One: Betrayal Of Benevolence”(which puts me in mind of Wendy Carlos’ opening salvo in The Shining) to the dance-y and dark rhythms of “Foundation Five: The Obelisk” to the closing track “Foundation Eight: The Question Of Obstinacy” with its almost Vangelis optimism, this album fills the head and heart with heady questions, big ideas, and all-encompassing sonic warmth.
The Foundations Of Eternal Sin is an album to soak in. It’s a record of reflection and reprieve. Mercatante has created a sonic world that requires an open mind and willingness to give into bigger questions about ourselves and where we fit in the world. You’d think the road between benevolence and obstinacy is a long one, but it’s a quicker trip than you think.
8.2 out of 10
Salvatore Mercatante’s The Foundations Of Eternal Sin is available now from Castles In Space. Buy it here.