Hidden Place have just recently released their new compilation Nero Schwarz. It encompasses what I consider the best of their work on a single album. It consists of 12 cleverly selected tracks from their previous releases and presents some of them with a new approach and arrangements. You can also hear “alternate versions” of some previously released tracks on the second half of the album.
This compilation is simply a must have if you are either a fan or a first time listener. There is no better way to be introduced to this splendid Italian electro-cold-wave band inspired by some 80s new wave synth music and still keeping the electro flame burning. However, they don’t offer nostalgia for past times; rather the genre continuum, and we are lucky to have them.
The basic idea of creating the melancholic soundscapes with synths and Sara’s clear and haunting vocal runs throughout the whole compilation. They flirt more with melancholia at moments and at times they sound more precise and exact. You can clearly hear the shift from very emotional “Nei Versi Di Prevert” to the more analytic and icier sound of “Without Time”. However, the basic atmosphere remains the same. They are utterly melodic, atmospheric and melancholic even on tracks like “London to Rome” or “Gioco Cromatico” where the beat becomes more prominent and dance inviting.
They offer five new versions of their previously released tracks and it is nice to hear those songs “re-painted”.
Although I really like the originally icy and crispy sound of “Picture Hall” I must pay a compliment to the new version that sounds a bit stripped but revealing the new idea within the song. This time, the bass line and the beat lead the way and the whole version sounds more retro. I feel the same about “Alexander Strasse” and “Window Sill”. They decided to reach out for the retro influence for these versions and made a slight step back in time making a contemporary synth piece into a retro electronic experience.
Depending on whether you are more of a modern or retro sound fan, you will like the originals or alternate versions. However, if you’re anything like me, you will be the fan of both versions. They close with “Reazione”. The alternate version sounds quite close to the original one, but again, a bit less saturated. I found this danceable piece to be the perfect closing song, inviting you to discover the Hidden Place world, which should in fact be anything but “hidden”.