The debut album from Enrico Fernando’s one man project Red Black Red, Resettlement, is an intensely personal recording featuring eight songs melding electronica with convincing rock tropes. Fernando’s history playing and fronting a number of North New Jersey hard rock bands informs his approach to this material, but there’s a level of intelligence further elevating the songwriting reflected in its loose thematic unity centered on the immigrant experience in America historically and today. Make no mistake, however, that this is some sort of concept album. The current political issues surrounding the status and frequent demonization of immigrants significantly inspired Fernando’s writing while you can draw many parallels between the sounds he pursues on this studio release and influences like Bruce Springsteen, The Police, and TV on the Radio with an emphasis on guitar. It’s difficult to imagine that many releases this year will match the consideration and thought informing Resettlement.
Fernando wisely doesn’t rely on guitar histrionics to carry the collection. Instead, much of Resettlement’s sound embraces a compelling balance of multi-textured guitar alongside a bevy of synthesizers and other electronica that presents a different face with each of Resettlement’s eight songs. “Kindness” lays down an early gauntlet and illustrates a facet of his compositional methods. In some senses, we can hear how Fernando constructed these songs from stripped down demons that he later layered with a variety of overdubs orchestrated into a cohesive whole. Guitar takes a more dominant role with some tracks, however, and “The Scientist” is one. It’s a track where Fernando’s love of bands like Nine Inch Nails comes through, though some may find the influences a little too pronounced, and the guitar sound crackles with fiery intensity. The hard hitting percussion driving the song amplifies the song’s claustrophobic intensity.
Resettlement experiences one of its more significant musical twists with the comparatively sedate number “Debris” and the more tempered approach, particularly in regards to the song’s pacing, increases its dramatic potential. His ambitions are clearer than ever and reach a refined peak with the song “Dream in Fevered American” thanks its pronounced theatricality. The theatrical elements of the song, however, never risk heavy handedness thanks to how well Fernando manages to structure the track. It’s impossible to not admire Fernando’s skill at bringing together a mini quasi-orchestra of sound for tunes like “Dream in Fevered American” and never overextending the track as a result. Guitar returns to the forward position with the song “Black Pearl” and the dizzying array of six string sounds Fernando produces for the release reaches its likely apex with this cut. Fernando’s vocals are likely to be an underrated part of Red Black Red’s package, but they shouldn’t be and his performance on “Black Pearl” rates among the finest moments on Resettlement. “Resettlement” packs quite a wallop and features Fernando’s guitar work bristling throughout with rare fury while the percussion keeps things physical and urgent throughout. The album’s last song “A Blessed Day by the Ocean” promises tranquility but, instead, romps with a strong electronic edge and every bit of the same wide-eyed spirit personified by the earlier songs. Red Black Red’s Resettlement is a profoundly affecting musical work adorned with some of the best writing you’ll hear in recent history on an indie release.