Robert Farrugia


Lurien Zittertkopf

September 3, 2023

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

Downtempo stylings in a strikingly intimate environment, creating vivid and warm ambient pieces with a uniquely personal touch

There’s a unique magic to every person’s private spaces and this is an essential component of Robert Farrugia’s latest release. Created in a year where the artist "made a home and found" themselves, Ċipress works as a representation of his experiences throughout 2022, deeply personal songs that only let you see inside his world as through soft sun rays coming through a new kitchen window. Farrugia’s ambient and downtempo work has looked towards vastness and expansive soundscaping as the end goal, Adrift built upon soft drone layers and 2021’s Voicemail embraced compositional minimalism more than ever. While Ċipress is a similarly quiet listen, the effect of it is entirely different. Instead of being faint and wistful, Ċipress’ gorgeous and detailed, flashes of ambient techno are surrounded by quiet electronic pieces whose warm synth beds evoke the relief that comes with having an area safe and inviting to be in. As slow and blurry as these songs can be, Farrugia composes with a knowledge of how important this new environment is to his music, Ċipress a brisk but wondrous album with nothing but solace to deliver. 

In structure, Ċipress isn’t too different from Farrugia’s previous releases and that’s, by all means, a good thing. His soft-spoken style of ambient music is at its best on tracks like The Brambles and Upstream, rich in texture but never placing one element at the forefront (Upstream’s pulsing bass kicks are so light they can easily go unnoticed), Farrugia in his usual element but emphasises the weight of what’s present rather than trying to let it escape from the mix, kept together in an enclosed space where the air seems to only get heavier by the second. It’s easy to imagine each of the songs as their own individual room, entered through the same network of hallways between them but differing in their interiors – the title track and Arctic prefer more futuristic synths and sharp percussion, while Venules and Sekwenzi go for elegance and solid textural colours, simple enough to understand on a first listen, until further time with them reveals Farrugia’s ambient stylings to be inimitable in how they transform small ideas so subtly that it only becomes noticeable when you take a breath. He makes falling into these songs incredibly easy, but provides enough details within for those who want to stay on the outside and observe, Ċipress is a gracious album offering some of the sweetest ambient music in recent memory with the goal of making wherever it’s listened to a little cosier. 

It seems after years of making free-roaming ambient that would escape through empty horizons or starry skies, Farrugia allows Ċipress to capture his music and keep it still, these songs carefully crafted to invite you in and submerse you in a single place. The ethereal scenery of his past albums is still here, it’s just changed environments, ambient by way of intimate home snapshots rather than sweeping naturalistic scenery. Ċipress knows its aura and takes every possible step to make an album that is nothing but wonderful to spend time with. Assured in his ability to make music both gentle and expressive, Farrugia makes not only one of his strongest albums to date but a strips his style down to the foundation and reimagines the world it’s created in, breathing so much new life into his already excellent music. Ċipress may be unlike anything Farrugia has done before in spirit, but it’s the meticulousness in everything he’s done since the beginning of his music that makes the album such a special, brilliant listen. Ċipress is a small, quiet world of Farrugia’s, but the new space is welcoming all the same.