The title Urbs derives from the prominent incorporation urban
sound environments, recorded by Sanfilippo in urban environments such
as train stations, streets, bars and other public areas to explore
the boundaries between the textural sounds which surround all of us
day to day, and the nature of composed sound art such as music. These
"real world" sound textures merge with more traditional
electronics such as synthesizers and samplers, leaving no doubt as
to the composed and "intentional" nature of these soundscapes.
Gentle and evocative, subtly textural and transporting, Urbs
is something we genuinely expect to become a long-term favorite among
Hypnos releases. Hypnos Recordings.
Not surprisingly, Urbs, the debut Hypnos CD by Barcelona, Spain-based
composer-musician Bruno Sanfilippo, draws extensively upon the urban
environment for much of its source material.
Field recordings, most of them gathered using an iPod Touch from train
stations, streets, bars, subway platforms, and other public settings
(in various European cities as well as Grand Central Station in Manhattan)
are transformed liberally as they're threaded into the dense fabric
of the CD's four compositions.
Urbs is not a pure field recordings-based collection, then, but one
which uses them in conjunction with Sanfilippo's samplers and his
Korg Radias synthesizer.
What results is an interesting fusion that merges the everyday city
environment that is so indelibly a part of many peoples' lives (and
to which they therefore become sonically desensitized to as a result)
and ambient-drone synthesizer music. Urban Flow alchemizes
field recordings gathered from various environments into a nightscape
of powerfully evocative character.
Footsteps, buzzings, creaks, and clatter are some of the real-world
sounds Sanfilippo integrates into the setting, though they're never
merely sandwiched together and left untreated.
Instead, they're heavily dosed with reverb and merged with synthesizer
and sampler-generated elements until a dream-like, slow-motion drone
is the provocative result.
In The City Reflected, muffled voices and crystalline
shadings drift across a central mass of echo-drenched haze, with everything
moving at an even slower pace than in the opening piece.
In a not unwelcoming move, Sanfilippo strips the material back in
isolated moments so that a single sound predominates, whether it be
water sounds or synth washessomething the track's twenty-minute
duration can easily afford to accommodate.
That sense of drift isn't displeasing either, as it's used to establish
an overall harmonious ambiance that's easy for the listener to embrace.
In having softly whistling tones float alongside the muted noises
of the city, the slightly longer Chaotic Order unfolds
in unexpectedly serene manner for its opening ten minutes before glitchy
textures extend the piece into rougher territory. The moment passes
quickly, however, after which Chaotic Order assumes a
noticeably extraterrestrial character when lunar transmissions, rumblings,
and whooshes grow ever more dominant. The seven-minute The Gray
Umbrella can't help but feel like a coda when it's so short
compared to the other pieces, yet it nevertheless tells a complete
story in its melding of synth patterns and reverberant voice mutterings.
by rik · ping things
On "Urbs", Bruno Sanfilippo's debut release on the Hypnos
label, Bruno works with some previously unexplored styles, moving
away from the gentle piano sounds of earlier recordings and replacing
them with a more abstract form which I'm happy to discover is just
as accomplished and just as appealing as his earlier work.
"Urban Flow" is a night time journey through the city, found
sounds and drifting pads creating a vibrant and moody film noir environment.
As the track progresses, the sound takes a turn for the fantastic
with pads stretching and expanding around the soundfield, a wash of
sound over the city giving it a golden sheen, illuminating magic that
may have gone otherwise unnoticed.
"The City Reflected" continues through the city on a rain
drenched evening. Cars drive through the mist and puddles while tones
arc and bend, high trebly tones piercing like lights through the night
time fog. A selection of drones lie underneath, an interesting counterpoint
to the beauty of lights. As the piece progresses it very nicely captures
that late nighttime feeling that starts around 4am, where things start
to get wierd, and where lack of sleep distorts reality enough to make
it more surreal.
"Chaotic Order" revels in the sounds of crowds in the city,
a slow drift through the streets of crowded areas, voices and footsteps,
the sounds that people make in a teaming metropolis. Pads drift slowly
overtop, interlacing with eachother, forming a delicate latticework
of sound that glides across the track in a most appealing way. As
time progresses, a second movement finds the pads joined by other
sounds creating a very interesting and emotive piece, a fascinating
trip through cinematic sound environments. A third movement begins
with a gristly tone and a deep windy drone, an intermittently haunting
segment that brings the ghosts of the city to life. A very impressive
The disc closes with "The Gray Umbrella", a thematic book
end to the opening track, presenting a similar feeling of a nocturnal
walk through the city streets. Quietly ringing notes play alongside
the sounds of the city, complementing and weaving through the natural
flow of an urban setting. It's a quiet piece to end the album, a sleepy
resolution that suggests that the journey has come to a conclusion
and it's time to go to bed. And really, that's the best way to end
the album, a feeling of completion, satisfaction, and the sense of
security that comes with returning full circle to one's own home.
Our trip through the city of "Urbs" is done.
Those of you who regularly read the ping things blog will no doubt
recognize that I'm running out of ways to say how much I enjoy Bruno's
work, running out of ways to say what a talented artist he is. The
fact is, I am regularly astonished by his impressive musical talents,
and hearing a release like "Urbs" I am further impressed
by his versatility, and the way he can easily work within new styles
and forms. "Urbs" is a very interesting new direction for
Bruno, and as always I look forward to seeing where that direction
will lead him.
by Chuck van Zyl · STAR'S END RADIO
The origins of Ambient Music seem to date back to Erik Satie and his
idea of "Furniture Music", music that is present in a room
and just as unobtrusive as its furniture.
Another idea came from Brian Eno and his renowned Music for Airports.
Texturally sparse and of a gentle mood it more fully espoused the
notion of music experienced equally well through active listening
or at the periphery of awareness. As this musical concept went out
into the world it fueled the creativity of many musicians and confirmed
the output of others already working towards similar ends. Over the
years Ambient Music has quite creatively moved beyond the concepts
first implied at its beginnings and now includes an enormous variety
of works - some of which reach into the realms of musique concrète,
spacemusic and minimalism to further the expressionistic intentions
of the composer.
Urbs (67'33") by Bruno Sanfilippo is certainly an album of Ambient
Music, but it should also be thought of as a unique and personal creation
made in the form of a complex yet truly Ambient soundscape. While
it may feel somewhat vague Urbs is much more than mere background
music. Yet listeners may have to treat it that way.
The four tracks pass very quietly in a slow motion haze - but as compelling
as these realizations are it may be difficult to stay present in the
At once dreamlike and vibrant Urbs is interestingly inward. Using
synthesized and sampled textures and atmospheres Sanfilippo also works
in a distinctive array of field recordings from various urban settings.
Voices, street traffic, the ambiance of large spaces and the general
sounds of city life are all arranged beautifully amidst breathing
drones, ethereal bells and rounded electronic tones. In many passages
Sanfilippo combines his manmade sounds with location audio so effectively
that it is difficult to discern one from the other - the blending
is so complete.
More gesture than musical composition Sanfilippo's work is remarkable
for its absence of a recognized process - and may be more notable
for its own mysteries than as a means of unlocking ours. Its detailed
and fluid movement will cause a range of reactions, none of which
Bruno Sanfilippo is a multi-talented artist, capable of crossing
genre borders with ease. On his two latest releases, Urbs and Piano
Textures 3, he shows two very different compositional sidesand
both are superb in their own right.
Urbs is a deep ambient disc, beatless and drifting, composed from
synthesizer washes, liquid electronic textures and field recordings.
This is a heavily atmospheric album, full of impression and amorphous
imagery and an almost unfathomable sense of vastness. The field recordings
are melted and manipulated into new forms.
They dwell like ghosts of memory in the background, retaining recognizable
elementsthe rolling murmur of a crowd, the lilt of a voice across
a public address system.
Theres an intriguing austerity to Sanfilippos landscapes
in Urbs, a wind-swept loneliness that comes to feel very personal.
This is about you, separated and isolated in an urban canyon.
The pauses between moments, especially in The City Reflected,
become small eternities of waiting as notes fade into an impossibly
distant horizon. Sanfilippo leans toward an uneasy feel throughout
much of the discThe City Reflected lightens noticeably
toward the endbut his sounds are so foggy, floating and incorporeal
that they become oddly lulling. Its easy to give yourself over
to it all. This is never more the case than on the stunning Chaotic
Order. This 25-minute track evokes Eno in its long-drawn, unobtrusive
pads. A repeating chime brings up echoes of Thursday Afternoon. Negative
space is used beautifully throughout; Sanfilippo is definitely not
afraid to hang a pause. This is a piece you internalize in short order,
the cadence of the warm synth bringing your breathing in sync.
The field recordings here exist at the edges of hearing, a slight
breeze of voices wafting through. Headphone listening is a must with
Urbs. Sanfilippos details are exquisite, down to the very smallest,
and youll want to take it all in. Light taps of percussion pepper
the background, quiet drones rise and fall, and he never seems to
run out of new sounds to fold into the flow.
This is a simply amazing piece of ambient work.
by Matt Howarth · Sonic Curiosity
This CD from 2012 features 67 minutes of urban ambient music.
Sanfilippo plays: Korg radias synthesizer, samplers,
and field recordings. While most ambient synthesists utilize environmental
recordings in their music, the general milieu for these samples are
appropriated in the countryside.
Here, though, Sanfilippo has confined his sampling to urban locales:
inside churches. train stations, subway platforms, and on the streets
and in the bars of cities.
This lends this music a completely different temperament. While the
tonalities tend to be harsher than normal, they are softened by gentle
electronics that serve to unify these sounds into a flowing vista
of vaporized concrete and windblown steel.
Despite the grittiness of the samples, though, these
tunes possess a certain tranquility, a comfortable familiarity for
Not that the sounds are readily recognizable, for they've been treated
and mutated to belong to an eerie palette.
Electronic chords lurk within the mix, embellishing
the flowing soundscape with noble influences.
With only one exception, these tracks are excessively
long, affording the soundscapes ample time to establish their ethereal
stance and indulge in various variations as they progressed. The compositions
seethe with a gentle puissance despite their minimal definition. Regardless
of whether you closely study the music or enjoy it as a background
the tuneage seeps into the soul and instills a peaceful impression.
by Paul Jury MORPHEUS MUSIC
STYLE: Experimental ambient and expressive field recordings.
This deeply evocative album centres upon carefully selected urban
field recordings gathered by Bruno Sanfilippo from such diverse locations
as churches, train stations, subway platforms, streets and bars. Apart
from sounds of Grand Central Station in New York, the recordings were
obtained within the cities of Europe using just an iPod Touch.
Not just textures to add interest to the more crafted sounds of music;
these ghostly audio presences are the main forms within these blurry
The opening track blends intriguing noise and dream-like musical abstraction
from the very start: delicate tonal swells, twinkles and electronic
burbles harmonise with soft footfalls, percussive disturbances, metallic
clatter and echoing human hubbub. The second track The City Reflected
has a somewhat harsher sound for the first fourteen minutes or so
than its predecessor - distant voice fragments and turbulent movements
hang among dissonant bell tones and uneasy synth pads.
The conclusion softens into hypnotic harmony and leads comfortably
into Chaotic Order a twenty-five-and-a-half minute nocturne of welling
beauty and environmental sounds presented as if refracted through
a heavy veil of sleep. The relatively brief end piece drifts in elegant
meandering half slumber - muted chimes and far-off social interactions
beclouded by sonic fog.
ARTWORK: This glossy two-panel digipack follows the current Hypnos
format: broad black upper border with expressive photo-imagery below.
Ambiguous urban abstracts of turquoise and red light patterns fill
both inside and outside spreads. Repeating fluid swirls pool and flow
in and out of shadow like a night-time city in the drenched in rain.
Cover notes reveal that the imagery was "captured inside a bus
in Berlin City." The rear cover lists the four tracks against
their respective times with a quotation from Aristotle musing upon
the relationship of an individual to society. Inside, the right panel
supports the disc in a clear plastic grip; the left delivers recording
information; thoughts on the nature of the music and relevant contact
OVERALL: Bruno Sanfilippo plunges further and further into the abstruse
depths of ambient experimentation with this new release - leaving
his more melodic new age origins far behind.
This is the first release by the Spanish musician on the renowned
Hypnos label and a mighty introduction it is: bold, confident, luxurious
Here Bruno Sanfilippo has softened his sound palette into such subtle
tones that it is pleasingly difficult to define "the boundary
between [musical] sound and noise."
The usually inexpressive noise of the city becomes another instrument
in the arsenal of this skilled audio-sculptor. The four tracks are
of fourteen minutes forty-one; twenty minutes twenty seconds; twenty-five
twenty-nine and six minutes fifty-eight seconds respectively. You
can explore the music at Hypnos or the official Bruno Sanfilippo website.
by Drone on
The debut CD on Hypnos by ambient maestro Bruno Sanfilippo could not
possibly be any more impressive. In fact, to these ears it is one
of the finest discs Hypnos has released in the last 15 years. "Urbs",
a strange title which makes sense when you discover the urban theme
of the music, plays like an alternative, and more ambient, soundtrack
to Ridley Scott's 1982 masterpiece "Blade Runner." The striking
cover imagery of a photo of Berlin taken through a bus window gives
a hint of the surreal soundscapes contained within, which could describe
both an urban city and all its stories and emotions, or simultaneously
the landing of a spacecraft on a barren and undisturbed extra-solar
planet. Sanfilippo utilized only the Korg Radias synthesizer, samplers,
and field recordings (of churches, cityscapes, subways, and bars),
focusing on the "less is more" approach to sound design,
making the music feel open, spacious, and uncluttered. And seemingly,
not a sound is out of place as the music unfolds like a radiant dream,
a dream which you never want to end.
The album is broken up into four tracks but plays like one long track,
the first three averaging 20 minutes a piece. This kind of urban environmental
ambient has been done before by other artists--check out Paul Vnuk's
"Silence Speaks in Shadow" on Hypnos, or Pete Namlook and
Charles Edwards' "Create" series on Fax--but "Urbs"
never sounds derivative of those or cliched in any way. And that's
probably because the sounds employed on the album are just so jaw-droppingly,
viscerally ethereal and beautiful that "Urbs" actually should
have been the album to inspire those works. The first two pieces,
"Urban Flow" and "The City Reflected," set the
stage with gritty, shadowy (but not dark) sound design; "The
City Reflected" then morphs into some melodic synth motifs that
are incredibly pastoral and calming (I am reminded here of Namlook/Inoue's
classic "2350 Broadway" album, which explored similar urban
The third piece, "Chaotic Order," the longest, at over 25
minutes, begins with lush, beautiful melodic sine waves over city
soundscapes of streets, voices, etc; here I'm reminded of Steve Roach's
classic "Structures from Silence." Slowly, some ultra-ethereal
blips echo in and out (Tetsu Inoue fans take note) as the track continues
its majestic path, pulling you from downtown to the Moon and back
again. Later in the piece, some glitchy sounds add some grittiness
to the rainy streets.
The final 7-minute piece, "The Gray Umbrella," opens with
heavily reverberated field recordings of voices in a train station,
followed by some incredible metallic sounding synth tones that continue
the pastoral feel of the album and create a perfect close. What a
phenomenal album! "Urbs" has my highest recommendation,
and is easily the best ambient album I have heard so far in 2012.
Congratulations Bruno Sanfilippo on an instant classic and unforgettable
by Richard Gürtler
Field recordings are the key elements of "Urbs" and "BIOMA",
the last two albums of Bruno Sanfilippo (on "BIOMA" he was
joined by his fellow soundscaper, Max Corbacho). While on "BIOMA"
documenting the life of a nature, on "Urbs" Bruno has decided
to focus on everyday's life of a city, when collecting location recordings
from various European metropoles plus New York by mapping surrounding
environments like train or subway stations, streets, bars, churches...
This brand new album, Bruno's 16th when counting also his collaborations
with Mathias Grassow or above mentioned Max Corbacho, is not only
his premiere work for renowned Hypnos label, but also a quite radical
departure from all his previous works that are spanning from rather
ambient/new age oriented, through deeper organic or cinematic ambience
to modern classical influenced. Bruno Sanfilippo is now venturing
with "Urbs" into more minimal soundscaping with gently portrayed
pulsing life of the city. To be honest, without knowing the name of
the artist who is behind "Urbs", I would never connect it
to Bruno Sanfilippo. But don't be afraid, because this chameleonic
change is not only totally adventurous, but also proving the unlimited
creativity and considerable talent of this sound architect (born in
Buenos Aires, Argentina, but residing in Barcelona, Spain).
"Urban Flow" is perfectly chosen name for opening piece,
with dominating colder on-site recordings of various rumblings, noises,
buzzes, creaks or squeaks, all wrapped by hazed nocturnal atmosphere
and masterfully merged with deeply evocative drones and assorted mesmerizingly
or mysteriously emerging voice and choir samples. Wow, this is absolutely
phenomenal, nearly 15-minute intro!!! Grandioso & mágico,
Voice transmissions unfold the next piece, "The City Reflected",
clocking over 20 minutes. Deep, nearly ear-bending echoes, various
rumblings, mysteriously odd voices enter the stage as well, everything
harmoniously crafted and bridged, and superbly evoking a place similar
to some underground lively corridor. Cascading sonic palette is minimal,
but intense and maximally effective. "Chaotic Order", a
25 and half minutes long opus reveals with deeper drones, again enriched
by distant conversations and various street rumblings, serenely drifting
before entering during the second third into slightly more active
areas with glitchy and hissy elements invading. The last third returns
to more mysterious and droning course with assorted noises, breathings
and voices on the back. Definitely another deeply absorbing masterpiece!!!
The closing piece, 7-minute "The Gray Umbrella", is colored
by various voice recordings, possibly the most textured sonic escapade
slowly moving towards the end into minimal and quieter, nearly meditative
outro. "Urbs" is stirringly challenging and refreshing,
carefully sculpted and fused into amazingly homogeneous structure,
with strong attention paid to every detail.
This album delivers enormous amount of spectacular listening moments
and transports each listener into magnificently immersing urban environments.
Bravo to Bruno Sanfilippo, bravo to Hypnos!!!
Por Ran Kirlian· Celiar Structures
Urbs es el título del último álbum de mi buen
amigo Bruno Sanfilippo, un trabajo de corte atmosférico y
planeador basado en grabaciones de campo urbanas que se acaba de
publicar en el sello discográfico Hypnos Recordings.
El álbum, que tuve oportunidad de escuchar
ya hace unos meses, es de una calidad y delicadeza realmente excepcionales,
aunque se aleja un poco de la magia melódica a la que nos
tiene acostumbrados el compositor argentino. Encontramos aquí
una fuerte presencia electrónica de estructuras minimalistas,
en ocasiones con cierto cariz atonal, encargadas de generar texturas
altamente inmersivas y sutiles pasajes armónicos pero que
también contienen parte de esa magia tan característica
de su música. Así, podemos encontrar pasajes realmente
épicos como la parte final de Urban Flow, con sublimes coros
vocales y una intensa nube de sonidos microtonales o el corte más
melódico del disco, The Gray Umbrella, donde las notas afloran
con un tono de melancolía más cercano a lo que Bruno
nos tiene acostumbrados.
Sin embargo la fuerza y la belleza de Urbs no radican
sólo en todo este imaginario instrumental, si no en cómo
se combinan dichas texturas con las grabaciones realizadas en entornos
urbanos y el tratamiento que se le ha dado a estos. Entre dichas
grabaciones se incluyen estaciones de tren, calles, bares y otros
espacios públicos, lugares que pueden resultarnos muy familiares
pero que en ocasiones nos será difícil identificar
gracias al procesamiento recibido. El resultado es un fascinante
ejercicio exploratorio a través de un frondoso universo sonoro
con evidente aroma urbanita, con espacios pertenecientes a una ciudad
que se nos antoja imposible gracias a toda esa hermosa lírica
que sólo un gran compositor podría integrar.
El disco se ha editado, como decía, en el sello
Hypnos en formato digipack y se encuentra disponible desde su webstore
a un precio introductorio de 8,99$ (sólo hasta el próximo
viernes), todo un regalo para una obra maestra.
Por Roberto Vales · A Ultima Fronteira Radio
Bruno Sanfilippo es un compositor que me fascina desde hace muchos
años, principalmente desde que tuve el placer de escuchar "Suite
Patagonia", pero es un hombre que no ha dejado de evolucionar
en su música y en sus últimos trabajos esta se ha vuelto
profunda e intimista, ahora nos presenta su nuevo trabajo titulado
"Urbs", un disco que está publicado por el sello
En este trabajo, Bruno se encarga hasta de la portada, con una curiosa
imagen realizada desde un autobús en la ciudad de Berlín,
algo que nos va a indicar por donde va a circular el contenido del
mismo, un trabajo en el que compositor recopila sonidos de diversas
ciudades del mundo, entre ellas de New York, en concreto de la Grand
Central Station para ir creando un trabajo conceptual que gira alrededor
de los sonidos de las ciudades, de esas urbes que se han apoderado
Comenzar a escuchar este trabajo, es trasladarse al interior del mundo
circundante de una gran ciudad, de los sonidos que nos envuelven cada
vez que nos adentramos en una, pero entre esa monotía, ese
ruido, ese caos, puede surgir la belleza e indudablemente la música
de Bruno se encarga de ello. El compositor consigue a la perfección
con esta obra hacernos sentir esas sensaciones de opresión,
de falta de libertad, de esos ruidos que se apoderan de nosotros,
pero Bruno, también nos hace ver que el ruido no deja de ser
una percepción y de él podemos extraer música,
sonidos que generan composiciones y que nos permiten también
soñar, porque la música es una forma de soñar.
La concepción de este trabajo, por momentos me hizo recordar
un fantástico disco de Vangelis titulado "The City",
el disco de Bruno es más oscuro, quizás más íntimo,
pero la idea es la misma, esa idea de mostrarnos ese ruido de la ciudad,
pero que puede llegar a ser música para nuestros oídos
siempre que estemos dispuestos a abrir nuestra mente. Cómo
siempre, un verdadero placer el disfrutar de un nuevo trabajo de Bruno
Sanfilippo, y que podemos disfrutar tanto en el campo como en un gran
Per Mirco Salvadori ROCKERILLA N° 381
Viaggiare, portarsi appresso il pulsare stesso del mondo ripiegandolo
diligentemente dentro un iPod Touch per poi espanderlo dentro l'essenza
stessa del suono, quasi fosse un fluido invisibile contenuto in quell'ampolla
magica che tutti gli alchimisti sonici si portano appresso durante
i loro pellegrinaggi alla ricerca di una possibile perfezione che
riesca a riunire, trasformandola in un unica nuova creatura, due componenti
forse lontani e diversissimi tra loro ma che appartengono alla stessa
matrice primaria: il noise ed il suono. Bruno Sanfilippo, musicista
originario di Buenos Aires, residente a Barcellona appartiene a questa
affascinante confraternita di maghi pur avendo un diploma classico
in composizione .
Il suo strumento è il pianoforte ma per disegnare gli intrecci
tra i vari elementi che formano questo nuovo lavoro ha preferito usare
le sonorità spaziali del Korg sulle quali ha inserito manciate
di samplers e, soprattutto, field recordings rubati ad una realtà
metropolitana fatta di subways, stazioni ferroviarie, chiese, marciapiedi
Gli scatti che Sanfilippo ci dona sono istantanee cariche di forza
espressiva che assumono carattere di distaccato viaggio onirico dentro
un universo che sa trasformarsi, da caotico luogo colmo
di rumorosa perdizione in metafisico universo straripante sognante
by Bert Strolenberg · Sonic Immersion
On Urbs, Bruno Sanfilippo introduces the listener in
the amazing world of city soundscapes and its vast array of noises.
Bruno tried to merge this mysterious alchemy from a punctual approach,
discrete in elements and discourses.
Urbs offers a spacious, mysterious and above all hypnotizing
sonic ride through the multiple dimensions of inner city life in four
Dont think this is kind of background music as the gliding and
gradually shifting effect of noises and field recordings melted together
demands focussed listening.
Im personally not too amused by the occasional, slightly distracting
experimental cracks and noises as employed in Chaotic Order
(with its 25-minute duration the longest track on the album).
Fortunately, a sense of harmony and stillness slides back on The
Gray Umbrella, in a way slightly approaching Vangelis Bladerunner
All in all, Urbs makes an intense listening experience