Porto based harpist and composer Angélica Salvi has boasted an impeccable work ethic. Between the release of her debut record, 2019’s ‘Phantone’, Salvi has tackled a multitude of projects, working in the realms of dance, photography, theatre and cinema. And as well as that, she has had time to meticulously craft her sophomore record – ‘Habitat’.
Coming in at just over half an hour, ‘Habitat’ is a clean and concise harp-focused ambient package. Opening track ‘Nan’ leads in with sparkling, shiny reversed audio, flitting around the speakers before culminating in a cinematic crescendo. Layers are everything here; sheets of different sounds wash over themselves, increasing the velocity and intensity of the track.
‘Crina’, the second track, is the first moment of Salvi showing her ability with a harp. Pushed forward by a delicate ostinato on the harp, ‘Crina’ eventually moves into granular and low fidelity textures. Like most of the tracks on ‘Habitat’ it never loses movement or drops in dynamic interest. ‘Lolong’ also plays with granular sounds and also dips into sound design reminiscent of Aphex Twin’s 2001 record ‘Drukqs’. The harp playing here is mostly staccato, feeling rushed and tense, with Salvi’s plucking frantically.
Closer ‘Fumo’ is a lighter moment. With the opening feeling like a spring morning, halfway through we are given a waltz passage accompanied by Pink Floyd-esque bends and slides. It is less intense that opener ‘Nan’ which gives the impression of the LP being a story almost, with a defined opening and a defined, different ending. As a result the album feels to be more of an experience than simply a body of work to be listened to.
‘Habitat’ is an exquisite blend of ambient and quite honestly glitch music. The off-kilter sonic choices, matched with audio stutters and atonal inflections, creates for a divine and compelling listening experience. Salvi’s ability as a harpist is mystifying, showing prowess and effortless plucking throughout the entire album. ‘Habitat’, while sonically different, is a step up from her debut, with Salvi adapting to any and all genres she wants to play with. Her talent is incredible, and records like this are only going to push Salvi further into the limelight.
Words: James Mellen