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Watch // Listen
ChiaraOscuro is the solo experimental ethereal project of vocalist, keyboardist, songwriter, and multimedia artist Chiara Viscomi. Raw, anachronistic torch songs and lush, cinematic anthems are created via the use of live and prerecorded loops, effects processing, and a broad vocal palette, as well as unconventional recording locations and instrumentation.
On her debut LP Rancor:Succor, ChiaraOscuro skillfully weaves a tapestry of refined and raw vocal sounds, adding depth and contrast to her compositions while allowing the improvisational nature of her songwriting to organically shape her vocals. When asked about her approach to her striking vocals, Viscomi reveals, "I operate on instinct and intuition. I see how the vocals want to come out and trust what feels right."
Recording locations for Rancor:Succor also play a vital role in the album’s distinctive sound, particularly the TANK, the renowned 7-story steel water tank turned recording space in rural Colorado. “Ever since I learned about The TANK, I was intrigued and knew I wanted to record there,” explains Viscomi. “I also knew that I wanted to record a song there with my ‘drone-ified’ accordion”—a vintage accordion outfitted with a pickup and various guitar pedals. This became another key instrument responsible for creating some of the captivating textures and drones that define the sound of Rancor:Succor. Viscomi continues, “One of the most striking aspects of the TANK is that it really becomes a collaborator—it's not just a space; it's an instrument all unto itself. Besides the otherworldly reverb, the floor’s curve created by the shale in the earth below affects pitch in some interesting ways.”
The album's genesis was a transformative experience for ChiaraOscuro. Rancor:Succor emerged as an evolution of her artistic expression during rehearsals for shows to promote her first EP. As older layers shed and newer ideas surfaced, a distinct direction unfolded. Reflecting on the pandemic's impact on her creative process, Viscomi shares: "A lot of my music deals with the shadow and all of the feelings that normally don't get talked about and that otherwise wouldn't have a place to go, other than the refuge of art."
Rancor:Succor was mastered by Heba Kadry (Slowdive, Diamanda Galas, Julianna Barwick) and produced by Viscomi with Marta Salogni (Holly Herndon, Bjork, Nyx Electronic Drone Choir), Skot Brown, and Daniel Knowles. The album's physical format incorporates multimedia elements including a 12x12" 16-page art booklet and hand-illustrated poster that accompany the 4-panel CD eco-wallet, as well as a short experimental film shot by Bobby Cochran and edited by Alexandra Banhazl which serves as its trailer.
"In Rancor:Succor, ChiaraOscuro has managed to craft an exquisite piece of sound sculpting, one that takes a listener on a true journey […] The atmosphere created is spectral, haunting, at times touching on the ethereal – particularly when Viscomi goes into full banshee-wail mode." - Echoes and Dust
"Rancor:Succor is a 10-track album of drone/ethereal music, taking influence from the likes of SunnO))) and Diamanda Galas. The result is an otherworldly work of art that fits comfortably into Nefarious Industry’s oeuvre […] Albums such as Rancor: Succor are not part of the tawdry business element that has so infected music, but about the act of creation. You can feel, in every single track here, a piece of the artist invested in the music and, as a result, it touches you. […] It’s an album of deep emotional connection – between the artist and the art, and between the art and the listener – and it leaves you feeling somehow cleansed." - SonicAbuse