Red Black Red – Resettlement
Resettlement is the eight track debut studio platter from Enrico Fernando under the banner Red Black Red positions this talented writer, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as one of the most formative major artists to emerge onto the scene in quite a few years. His deft mix of guitar driven rock and electronic music doesn’t put forth a hybrid we haven’t heard before, but Fernando harbors ambitions beyond the normal purview of an alternative rock album. Resettlement grapples with mighty themes in a musically and lyrically compelling fashion and comes off as a sort of modern fulfillment of rock music’s promise – capable of fully engaging with listeners physically and confronting them with great writing that rips the lid off experience. Resettlement is an impressively conceived effort that, seemingly, comes out of nowhere and makes the case that Enrico Fernando is a talent demanding to be taken seriously now.
He takes obvious care conveying the album’s lyrics and they emerge clear-throated despite the array of electronic instruments and multiple guitar voices driving each of the album’s eight songs. Resettlement is tackling its themes head-on and from the first – “Kindness” finds Fernando’s guitar talents taking on a secondary supporting role while electronica leads the way for much of the song. Unlike many composers and performers working in the vein, Fernando’s Red Black Red project seldom settles for a solely straight forward approach. Resettlement’s performances, instead, center on dynamic arrangements with a coherent ebb and flow and the density of the compositions is nearly unrelenting here and elsewhere on the album. “The Scientist” may, oddly, be one of the album’s more commercial tracks thanks to its clear reference points with an industrial rock sound. The near mainstream popularity of the form makes this one of the more immediately accessible numbers, but it is, in turn, more predictable than many of the other songs on Resettlement.
“Debris” will linger for many as one of the album’s more notable moments thanks to it being a nearly strategic point where he dials down the musical intensity for a more outwardly pensive moment. There’s stateliness about the song’s inexorable stride that Fernando shapes his voice around with great effect and you can’t help but notice the deeply felt, near soulful edge filling his voice. One of his most impressive arranging and songwriting achievements on Resettlement is the song “Dream in Fevered American” and the musical identity of the song definitely invokes the adjective anchoring its title, but the same mix of artistry and restraint defining Fernando’s writing as a whole allows him to go places with his individualistic style that other contemporaries couldn’t or wouldn’t follow. “Black Pearl” is guided much more by his guitar work than many of the album’s other songs and sharply contrasts with its impossibly dense successor “A Cross and a Crescent”. Some, however, may question songs like “A Cross and a Crescent” and think it provides evidence of the aforementioned mix of artfulness and discernment deserting him in favor of overwhelming listeners, but the clear strength of his vocal in the mix should silence any such criticisms. The title song is, in part, another gripping guitar showcase for Fernando’s fret board talents and definitely works as a great modern alternative rock track despite its unusual tempo and rhythms. Whether this is an one off project or the beginning of something long standing doesn’t change the fact that Red Black Red’s Resettlement is one of the more thoughtful and ambitious releases, any genre, we’ll likely hear this year.