Detroit’s Alister Fawnwoda is on a roll. Coming off a handful of stellar collaborative pieces with Omar S, his gaze shifts outward and upward into the expanding universe on Milan. Joining forces with two legendary figures in Suzanne Ciani and Greg Leisz (who exclusively plays pedal steel on Milan) to create something with such meditative depth is never a bad move, but Fawnwoda guides these sessions effortlessly. Along with producer and engineer Sonny DiPerri, Fawnwoda builds Milan into something magical.
Pristine sonic terrain is sculpted from celestial marble, generous curves sweep across expansive crystalline plains on “Sweetheart.” The resonant bliss of Leisz’s pedal steel is met, in force, by glittering arpeggios and massive synth swells. Acres of space gives each artist room to breathe and create an individual presence, but the intermingling of ideas and sounds in a center sphere pulls listeners close, offering an intimate portrait of this beautiful, imagined world. Breathless sirens sing from above, golden shadows filtering through the intricate, choreographed glassine tones.
Milan engages on multiple levels. Beyond the technical and compositional expertise on display, like in the deep corridors of the sprawling “Leopard Complex,” there’s an emotional narrative that unfolds and captivates. While Ciani builds weightless layers of synthetic drift further saturating “Leopard Complex” with feelings of freedom and relief, Liesz beautifully textures the surface with emotive passages, adding an element of lived experience to the piece. Each aspect moves in unison, disparate parts braided together forming a singular, dazzling whole. That same notion of purification becomes an exclamation mark on redolent closer “Snow Ritual.”
Throughout Milan, the horizon beckons. This music is bathed in light, following the sun as it moves across the sky, searching for a place to rest. Milan is a lesson in restraint where each artist gives and takes space as needed, letting the potency of the combined resonance of these compositions quietly make a lasting impression. From the opening spirals of “Night Bunny” to the closing chirps of “Snow Ritual,” Milan is an unquestioned success.
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