Marino Berardi, Best Intention EP


Artwork by Kate McGwire

[Room With A View]


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Marino Berardi’s first claim to fame was being among the first Belgian-based producers to be licensed by a notable American house label when his Expression In E-Dub single was picked up by Wave Music. But that was in 2000; and despite a string of solid if not stellar singles for Ovum, Fresh Fruit and more — not to mention that MB Recordings was built to host his tracks — dance music buyers let past accomplishments recede into his back catalog without a second thought. Berardi has since begun the second act in his musical career with a few tracks for Phil Dairmount’s surprisingly underrated Room With A View label. This renewed push is accompanied by a noticeable shift in Berardi’s sound, moving away from the sometimes bland palette which dulled his often rigorous arrangements. Collaborations with Dairmount on RoomWAV comps Perspectives 01 and 03 suggested an interest in orchestral source material; and on the Best Intention EP, Berardi’s first solo release since 2007, his examination of this inspiration yields what’s sure to be another career highlight. It’s also backed by remixes from Pezzner and Christo.

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In some ways “Best Intention” recalls the music of a much younger producer, John Roberts, when it combines unexpected timbres in a way that gives the track a perplexing pop. Its claps reverberate as if they’re being thrown down a hallway; the snare hits could be a knock at the door a couple rooms over; a tinkling, otherworldly loop slithers through the measures; and only the opening/closing hi-hat feels unadulterated. From this disorienting swamp rises the central theme, a defiant three chord progression whose nebulous form is almost overwhelming in its size. It’s not until the extended breakdown that the strings arrive: trembling below, shimmering above and lovely all around, especially when woven into the fabric of the key motif. At times this feels more suited for headphones than your nearest dance floor, but with the right crowd and at the right time, “Best Intention” could have audiences cheering as its dominates the space. Only its overabundant 12 minute run-time seems ill advised, but I suppose if you’re going big, you go big all the way.

Seattle’s Pezzner is a more than worthy remixer for “Best Intention,” not only because he’s one of America’s hottest new talents but also for how complimentary his thorough-yet-direct production style is to Berardi’s. Shucking the tune of all but its main riff, Pezzner crafts a serene house cut whose agile bell melody dips into pools of micro string loops. Although hand drums later carry the remix further into house territory, Pezzner’s generous application of layered voices holding single pitches gives the tune a reverent, almost hymnal quality that is peerless to my ears. The EP closes with another newcomer, UK producer Christo who was purportedly discovered by Atjazz. He homes in on the original’s orchestra vibe, turning loose manic woodwind vamps over a tightly coiled string loop before bringing in that signature progression to tie things together and give his remix further dance floor utility. It’s hard to pick a favorite from these three takes, but the lion’s share of credit goes to Berardi for writing what should well be his next claim to fame.

Simon  on April 9, 2010 at 3:14 PM

I rarely seem to enjoy house/techno tracks that are longer than about 9 or 10 minutes (sorry Radio Slave!) but this is really enjoyable.

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