Boston, Massachusetts based and Puerto Rican born musician Federico Balducci commented in a 2020 interview for Indie Shark Music Digest that the greatest things he loves about music “… is making people come together in space and forget about everything that is wrong with the word.” His latest release Dancing Trees features four instrumental tracks spotlighting his ever growing talents as a guitarist and composer. Yuca Tapes is the label responsible for releasing Balducci’s latest effort and this review is remiss if it fails mentioning their contribution. Yuca backs up their support of Hispanic/Latino artists with a cogent and fully-formed philosophy underpinning their work. Encountering a label who takes such a proactive approach supporting new original music is as valuable, if not moreso. They deserve fulsome plaudits for making Balducci’s work available to large audiences.
He mixes tasty jazz lines and relaxed near-dream like lead guitar during the opener “Roots and Silence”. It is the shortest of the four cuts included on this EP release but by no means filler. The mellow interweaving of chords and melodic runs throughout the piece is its clear musical highlight, but you cannot help but be impressed by the stripped down yet spot on drumming. This is a carefully crafted first track, but not so plotted out that Balducci succeeds in draining the composition of any spontaneity
“Wind Dance” begins with understated atmospheric piano, a smattering of sound effects, and light synthesizers in the foreground. You cannot help but enjoy Balducci’s work if you admire well-built instrumental “soundscapes” with accompanying high musical quality. It is reflective of Balducci’s intimate acquaintance with classical music that his compositions possess that sort of air. The thoughtful threading of disparate musical threads into a cohesive whole rather than achieving effects piecemeal is a distinguishing aspect of Balducci’s art.
“Counter” is a much more turbulent track than earlier cuts. Balducci makes far wider use of electronics in this track than its predecessors and its edgier mood nevertheless doesn’t diminish its commercial polish. It’s an average length for the work included on Dancing Trees, but Balducci is adept at maximizing his time and produces quasi-cinematic performances each time out on this release. The finale “Back to Earth” is no different.
It is grander and much more ambitious. “Back to Earth” runs almost ten minutes long and returns Balducci to the more pensive territory of the EP’s early tracks. He’s working on a much larger canvas, however, and the extended borders present with this piece inspire him to take more chances rather than playing it safe with the closing number. This is another sign serious music listeners are in good hands with Balducci.
This is a composer interested in testing his own creative limits and invites listeners along for the ride. Dancing Trees is an ideal offering for helping all of us put a lost year behind us and look towards a brighter future. It is vulnerable, challenging, and full of humanity under its immaculately produced surface without ever striking a false note.