Since the UK press first dubbed it “the Scene that Celebrates Itself” in the late 80s/early 90s, the shoegaze music scene has experienced an ebb and flow ever since, whether its a first wave act breaking up for different reasons, a moratorium declared by another or even a decision to change music styles, only to return years or decades later with new releases and a desire to reform and revive….even the UK media has declared it dead before reviving it again. Yet during the original aftermath, others remaining continue to exist before breaking up and new ones form – even if its entire existence is under the radar.
One of them is 20 year Italian shoegaze and dream pop veterans Stella Diana and they are back with their newest album “57”, the awaited follow-up to the 2016 release Nitocris, which inspired rave reviews. Over the course of five albums and nearly two decades of existence, the Italian combo has become recognized as one of the best shoegaze acts around, thanks to their master songcraft, their hypnotic rhythmic section and soaring, textured guitars. They have managed to grow a sizeable international following despite having been singing entirely in Italian until 2015, and while they keep exploring new sonic frontiers, their style remains uniquely recognizable. They continue to galvanize the so-called Italogaze movement (short for Italian shoegaze) which includes bands like Clustersun, Rev Rev Rev, In Her Eye, Electric Floor and Novanta. No accident that the bewitching track ‘Do Androids’ features guitars of Rev Rev Rev’s Sebastian Lugli.
Named after the ancient name of planet Venus (Morning Star), Stella Diana were formed in 1998 in Southern Italy’s city of Naples by Dario Torre (vocals and guitar) and Giacomo Salzano (bass guitar), joined by Giulio Grasso on drums. They assemble the the layers of shimmering guitars of bands like Ride and Lush, the dark wave atmospheres of Bauhaus and Joy Division, and new wave structures reminiscent of Echo And The Bunnymen and The Chameleons. And yet, Stella Diana are not at all a mere sum of their influences. As Primal Music’s Del Chaney puts it, they “meld together a heady brew of driving post-punk, melodic dreampop and hazy shoegaze to produce musical soundscapes so mesmerising that they literally take my breath away”. With commentary like that, its no surprise they’ve emerged as one of the faces of the current wave of shoegaze bands, whether they’re called Italogaze, nugaze, LA gaze, ethereal wave, dream pop, etc.
And with the new album “57”, every song has been composed in total freedom, without pressure and without schemes, aiming to create a dreamlike, delicate and unreal sound. Dreamlike as the hermetic lyrics, used only as an extra color in each song, even if – in general – what they describe is always the loneliness and lack of communication between people. In accordance with their strong DIY principles, 57 was recorded and mixed by bass player Giacomo Salzano, and produced by the whole band in their own recording studio, allowing to keep complete control over the music. The obsession with simplicity is present also in the cover art. A blood-red number on a black canvas, but a number that is not immediately clear, looking like a mark, or a piece of cave drawing.
“57” is scheduled for release on the 25th of May via Vipchoyo Sound Factory (IT) and Siete Senoritas Gritando(ES). Until then, the first single “Der Sandmann” is out and can be seen on youtube or heard on Chill #39.