On Friday, May 19, senior Sam Genualdi released his debut album, “Looking Through the Glass,” a journey through his musical passions and identity as a songwriter. The release was accompanied by his senior recital in which he and many of his collaborators played nearly the whole album. Listening to it for the first time and witnessing it live were two entirely different experiences, tied together mainly by the shared music. Experiencing the album in both of these ways reminded me how much more there is to music other than purely sound—it was also about who I saw on stage, how the music was brought to the corporeal world and beyond and a whole slew of other aspects.
I first listened to the album on Wednesday, May 17, when I finally had the time and mindset to devote myself to the experience. Sitting on a couch in WLFM, something drew me to turn off all the lights until I was engulfed in a pitch black that produced a certain warmness in the context of the album, rather than the cold, unknowing quality that darkness tends to have. As soon as I was comfortable, I hit play and was immediately drawn into the delicate, quiet chaos of guitar, violin, drums and electronic effects swirling around me. In the dark with headphones on, the source of sound was quickly lost and I was washed with it, surrounded by the monolith of darkness and music that entered through my ears but felt like it spread to the rest of my body.
This was all just in the first few seconds.
As I continued listening, my sense of being on a couch in WLFM dissolved and I found myself to be nowhere except in between the notes, feeling each and every one, reaching out into a nothingness that felt like everything. It was a bath of emotions, indiscernible from one to the next, but I was floating in it, intricately content and in a dream. Playful and meticulous use of electronics gave the music an otherworldly, futuristic quality to it, while the acoustic sounds sent me to the outdoors, molding together all my time in nature. I felt equal parts on an adventure, comfortable at home and separated from the physical world entirely.
Its 38 minutes were over before I could comprehend it all and I was left in an energized silence for about twenty seconds, wondering if there was more. As I turned on the lights and packed up my backpack, the daze did not wear off. Most of my being was still tied to the music, in another dimension, and would not return for some time.
Attending the CD release party was a similar experience, but its differences stood out immensely. In Harper, I was also in the dark but was struck by the subtle reflections of dim light off of saxophones and other instruments, barely dancing to the music that a huge ensemble produced. There were thirteen people on stage, but they breathed in song together, providing different powers that could not be ignored—through moments of blending that left me in the liminality between instruments, through vocals that, together, pushed at all the emotions I was feeling, through free improvisation that worked so well in its singer-songwriter context and through so many other channels.
Several of the musicians were featured on the record, but having the whole thing fully fleshed out live in front of me was a breathtaking experience. I was able to see everything that was happening through shadows and minimal lighting and felt the complex organism of infinite sounds move as one, with Genualdi leading, but leaving a lot of room for the individual components to move naturally and individually at points. “Looking Through the Glass” was a new experience live, one that existed only at that point in space and time. It bore resemblance to the studio recording, but that sense of community all tied to one human’s love for exploring his passions was so explicit in Harper on May 19. Genualdi could not have showed his gratitude toward his collaborators and audience more—he was in his element from beginning to end, comfortably expressing himself through all of his mediums and instruments and his love for making music resonated to everyone else there.
If you were not able to be there, know that you very much missed out, but please buy his album at <samgenualdi.bandcamp.com>. If you were able to be there, please buy his album at <samgenualdi.bandcamp.com>. Support this man and his music if you can.
Sam, I am so proud of you. I wish you nothing but the best on your travels and eagerly await seeing you and experiencing the honest art I am sure you will create.