Dardust is the moniker of Italian composer Dario Faini. Trained as a classical pianist, Faini is also a pop songwriter – a true ‘crossover’ artist. 7 is Dardust’s debut album, full of tuneful and catchy piano melodies, and drawing heavily on the neoclassical style of artists such as Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds. With Dardust currently embarking on a European tour, 7 has proved sufficiently popular to be the first of a planned trilogy of albums.
Inspired by 'Northern Europe['s] landscapes', 7 is characterised by minimalistic piano and ambient soundscapes. ‘Sunset on M.’ is led by an evocative repeated piano motif reminiscent of Philip Glass, accompanied by ethereal electronics and swelling strings. Structurally, much of the album is modelled on the peaks and troughs of dance music – ‘Invisibile Ai Tuoi Occhi’ builds to a euphoric, techno-inflected climax, with arpeggiating synths and expansive drums.
At its best, neoclassical music is delicate and inventive, reimagining simple melodies and harmonies in new and modern ways. Dardust is certainly very pleasant, but never surprising. Whereas Nils Frahm is a master of slowly building to a profound and emotional climax, 7’s triumphalism is less earned and not nearly as moving. The bombastic guitar and drums closing the album at the end of ‘Enjoy The Light’ step over the line into pop cliché.
Too often, the album is routine and ‘by-numbers’ piano ambience, but it is at its best when displaying Faini’s excellent sense for melodies with a natural prettiness and charming naïveté.
Originally pubished on Sinfini Music.