Too Late to Dream is Italian guitarist and producer Eraldo Bernocchi’s third release under his alias, Simm. Bernocchi has over the years worked with a multitude of artists across various styles: ambient, industrial, prog, noise, metal and world music; including the likes of Bill Laswell, Harold Budd, Mick Harris, DJ Olive & Zu. His most acclaimed and longest running project is the ritual ambient/experimental collective Sigillum S, formed in 1985.
Too Late to Dream follows Simm’s 1996 debut Welcome, released on Mick Harris’ proto-dubstep label Possible Records and 2013’s Visitor, released through revered underground electronic label Ohm Resistance, run by Kurt Gluck aka Submerged. Bernocchi’s latest offering, also out on Ohm Resistance, follows the suave and gloomy minimalism of previous releases, this time lacing his dark post-industrial dub with vocal features courtesy of cult grime MC Flowdan, who came to prominence in the early 2000s with the Roll Deep crew, reaching a new audience through his collaborations with Kevin Martin aka The Bug on the game-changing 2008 dubstep/dancehall release London Zoo.
Texturally, Too Late to Dream sees Bernocchi expand on his finest qualities, with growling synths, tense economic beats with sharp snares, exercising productional flair with every nuance. What really sets this work apart are the glints of futurism that course through the record, with alien sound design and synths that squelch and sneer, buzz and chirrup, the track ‘Mangled’ being one of the finest examples, with its sci-fi pads and processed extra-terrestrial voices.
Although the now London-based Bernocchi does not shy away from his influences, it would be incomplete to term this release as just dubstep; running at a bpm a little faster than average for the genre and avoiding any of the style’s clichéd trappings. That said, this stargazing, apocalyptic interpretation of the style may not have been so expertly executed since the 2006 release Memories of the Future, from producer Kode9 and poet/MC The Spaceape.
London MC Flowdan features on four tracks, his characteristically baritone voice complimenting Bernocchi’s bass-centric audio spectrum, filling up a space in the mix just higher than the grumbling subsynths. With his understated delivery and sparse, accented flow, Flowdan’s cryptic diatribes riff on the darker side of humanity and that his track features come sparingly, spotted across the tracklist, only packs more to each punch.
‘Gqom Squbulo’ is a stand-out track, splitting the album’s sombre halves in two with unexpected mania. Gqom is an electronic music genre that developed in Durban, South Africa in the early 2010s; a vocal-heavy, percussive, four-to-the-floor derivative of South African house. Bernocchi employs the talents of Gqom trio Phelimuncasi for a jarring and utterly primal vocal performance, rife with shrieks and howling.
The themes on Too Late to Dream are difficult to ignore. Between Flowdan’s dark rhymes, the ominous beats, the track titles and artwork, the message becomes clear: the dream is of a world free from the clutches of social duality, financial monopoly and spirit-crushing technology. Bernocchi’s message is sobering, and addresses one unifying fear: that we may be past the point of no return.
Too Late to Dream is out on 26th November via Ohm Resistance and can be ordered here.
Words: Rory Hughes