Dolfiin Alexander is the somewhat mysterious musical project of Northern Californian native Paolo Mancasola. It was only back in June that he burst onto the alt-folk scene with the single High Noon, a gorgeous stripped back reflection on isolation, travel and returning home. The track was inspired by a period of solitary living after returning to America from Sicily. Wasting no time in making a larger statement, this week Paolo is set to share his debut album, Rainbow Days, which is premiering here today ahead of its release.
While putting out an album this quickly might seem a little unusual, in Dolfiin Alexander’s case, it makes perfect sense. This is music that exists less as individual tracks or ideas, and more as a collective almost meditative whole. Listening to Rainbow Days feels like a calm, meandering journey from the inward glancing opening to a more global, technicolour conclusion.
Only a handful of the record’s sixteen tracks are entirely instrumental, words are used sparingly and thoughtfully throughout, allowing the intimacy of the spider-web like acoustic guitars and the hazy ambient textures to speak for themselves. This only serves to throw greater light on the more lyrical moments, like the stunning Janey, a tale of small towns, big dreams and the seeming incompatibility of the two.
Throughout Rainbow Days, I was struck by moments where I thought an influence became clear, yet they would quickly dance away again, lost back into the collective eclecticism of the album’s whole. A track like Walking seems to share its DNA with The Tallest Man On Earth, but it instantly slides into Home, a gorgeous instrumental, resplendent with slide-guitar, more akin to the experimental folk of Michael Chapman or William Tyler. The shuffling rhythms of Colder Through The Winter are a blissful Iron & Wine like wonder, while the sublime title track is the sort of gorgeous sound collage that permeated Karima Walker’s brilliant Waking The Dreaming Body record from earlier this year. This is not a record to file away under one particular style or genre, instead, it is one to admire for what it is, a glorious piece of self-expression entirely of Paolo Mancasola’s own vivid imagination.
Check out the album below and then read on for my Q&A with Paolo where we discuss music as a form of conversation, detaching himself from any career goals and why his future plans involve, “travelling the countryside of Italy in the search of a cheap farm to purchase”.
FTR: For those of you who don’t know who are Dolfiin Alexander?
Dolfiin Alexander is the recording project of mostly me, Paolo Mancasola. I’m originally from California, but have been living between Europe and the US for the past 5-6 years. The project came together with the help of sound engineer & musician Omar Akrouche (Worthitpurchase, Glacon Garcon) & Danielle Goldsmith, who both helped produce and engineer the record
FTR: You’re premiering your new album, Rainbow Days, what can you tell us about recording it?
The first half of the record came out of some early pandemic sessions at Tiny Telephone Studio in the Mission District in San Francisco. I wasn’t thinking about creating a full album at the time, but it started to feel like the perfect place to unravel songs that had been floating in my head for a while and it resulted in a full record. All the tracking was done on 1/2” tape and the intimacy of Tiny Telephone just felt perfect for the moment in time. The second half of the album came together during a brief period where I was living in a studio apartment near MacArthur Park in LA. Feeling cooped up from the pandemic and also being surrounded by all this mental illness and homelessness in the area I felt like writing and recording was the best form of meditation to process the times.
FTR: What made this the tight time to record an album, what did you do different compared to previous releases?
I suppose the pandemic made me sit still with myself for the first time in a while. I had been on a real ego trip and the global trauma just put some things in perspective for me.
FTR: Where does the title came from?
Rainbow Days is one the instrumental tracks on the album. It felt appropriate in that life is full of color for me right now. At the beginning of this process, I was depressed and things felt dark. Creating this record with the help of my friends brought so much joy, and I’m really grateful for it to brighten up my world again.
FTR: Who are the influences on your music? What are you listening when you wrote the record?
During the making of this record I listened to a lot of Arthur Russel, Daniel Johnston, and Karl Blau. Duster and Yo La Tengo are two of my favorite bands so I’m sure they were on the brain as well.
FTR: Once you can get back on the road, what can people expect from Dolfiin Alexander’s live show?
I have some friends in Hamburg that put on incredible shows on a boat. I’d really like to play a show there.
FTR: Why do you make music?
Creating music is the best place for me to have these little conversations with myself. I can be a little introverted around people but music has always felt like a place that I can express my thoughts and feelings freely.
FTR: Do you have any other creative outlets beyond music?
My girlfriend and I do a lot of traveling and car camping. We’re currently on a trip across Europe. We listen to and make music, create art together, cook food on the road with friends, dip into lakes to swim, move our bodies, etc… I think everyday life is full of creative outlets if you are open.
FTR: What are your ambitions for this record? Is music still a viable career?
Honestly, I can’t say I have any real ambition or agenda for the record. If it resonates with others, that’s really great. Mostly I’m trying to detach from career goals because those things just create chaos for me. I am interested in finding more sustainable ways to live and create art freely.
FTR: What’s next for Dolfiin Alexander?
I’m traveling the countryside of Italy in the search of a cheap farm to purchase with like minded friends. We’re dreaming of creating a sort of an artistic retreat for our community, a place where we could all recharge, create freely and live in a way that feels reverent to our sensibilities.
Rainbow Days is out July 30th. For more information on Dolfiin Alexander visit https://linktr.ee/dolfiinalexander.