“Novanta” is an Italian word meaning ninety and Italian Manfredi Lamartina chose such a name because every song is a “sort of tribute” to music from the Nineties. Granted, there may not be much in the way of Drum and Bass or Brit Pop here but shoegaze fans will possibly rejoice at the sounds generated by Lamartina’s one man band project.
‘Light Changes’ is a strange, turtle-paced, dream pop/trip-hop concoction. It’s a peculiar beginning and the following track, ‘Windows’, is hardly conventional but its searing Telecaster melody makes a fine bedfellow for some wounded vocals on a convincing shoegaze number. It seems the Telecaster is the key to the album as a whole as Lamartina often reduces his guest vocalists to a mere whisper or murmur; his guitar cutting swathes through ‘Worthless Whirls’ but then the track morphs into the kind of glum rock arrangement which The Wolfgang Press used to revel in.
Elsewhere, Lamartina experiments with electronica such as delightful instrumental ‘Novanta Song’, whilst ‘A Fever’ dabbles in ‘Kid A’-era weirdness as a stark piano motif and harmonium accompanies Giampiero Riggio’s haunted tones. On the flipside, though, the uplifting techno of ‘2Young2Die’ sounds as dated as the track title. Thankfully, Lamartina saves one of his best moments for the end with an arresting ‘La Maledizione Degli Affetti’. The title means ‘The curse of suffering’ and for some the huge guitar lines will make their ears bleed but for genre fans there are gorgeous layers of noise to enjoy.
Even if it will never live up to the tongue in cheek title, ‘Best-Selling Dreams’ is not as hamstrung by Nineties influences as you might think. Indeed, it’s possibly more “nugaze” than shoegaze thanks to Lamartina’s willingness to embrace newer technology.