Mysterious artist Ciao! recently released his debut album, Scary Haha, which narrates his struggles with severe illness, treatment, recovery, and uncertainty. Twenty percent of gross streaming/sales will be donated to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Ciao! explains, “This is more than a harmonic version of a ‘cancer memoir.’ In one sense, it’s a factual diary of a personal disaster. But it’s also an admission and celebration of the various thoughts and feelings that arise when things like mortality and disability spring up to stare us in the face.”
Written from hospital beds and in the homes of friends while Ciao! endured enervating treatments and surgeries, Ciao! finally left the clinic as socially distanced nurses blew bubbles and cheered, a touching act that inspired the album’s initial release, “Mayday in E Major.”
Ciao! shares, “When I got some of my energy back, I felt as if I absolutely had to finish these tracks and meld them into an album.”
Recorded in a Chinatown office suite during middle-of-the-night sessions, Ciao!’s sound conjures up suggestions of TV on the Radio, The Cure, and Gershwin.
Comprising 10-tracks, the album starts with the exotically flavoured “Vampire,” pushing out baroque layers of low-slung tones riding a delicate rhythmic pulse as dreamy vocals imbue the lyrics with lingering tones.
Highlights on Scary Haha include “August Repeating,” featuring chugging washes of new wave leitmotifs atop an austere syncopated beat. Vaguely reminiscent of Howard Jones merged with Depeche Mode, there’s a delicious, stilted flow to the harmonics.
A personal favourite, “A Favorite Machine,” blends hints of jazz with industrial new wave flavours, forming a shifting, burbling mandala of kaleidoscopic tones. At once striking and sonically glamorous, the song forms an almost religious-like psalm.
“Fit Enough For Fighting” opens on dark, rumbling percussion topped by flute-like filaments, giving the tune an alluring rococo aroma, not quite voluptuous, but entrancing.
Moody and Churrigueresque, Scary Haha amalgamates tangs of new wave and liturgical elements, all capped by chanting vocals, into unique, hypnotic music.
Scary Haha Track Listing:
2. August Repeating
4. A View From #22
5. A Favorite Machine
6. Scary Haha
7. Mayday in E Major
9. Fit Enough For Fighting
Run Time: 37:15
Release Date: August 12, 2022
Record Label: A Vestige Like