Review: From ‘Clownspunk’ to ‘Sundog’; the Varied and Challenging World of Gianfranco Pescetti’s ‘Daystar Nocturnal’ [Video]

Gianfranco Pescetti is one of those electronic artists who regularly and almost ritualistically defies labels in his work. With a penchant for synths in all their forms, since his first album release, All Is Rain, which covered almost all the EDM beat structures of the time whilst simultaneously flirting with post punk and gothwave, the Italian/Hawaii transplant producer has let the feelings and sounds of his work speak more than the genre of beat pattern. Now with nearly a decade and a couple of experimental singles since All Is Rain, Pescetti’s craft is honed and his new album, Daystar Nocturnal is a testament to his feelings first, genre second model.

Pescetti teased singles for almost a year before Daystar Nocturnal actually came out, with the ambient, mellow ‘The Wake’ being the first in 2023.  Sounding a bit like early 90s electronica (think of Enigma without the chanting), ‘The Wake’ challenged any notion Pescetti’s fans may have had about his style, though his prolific bass guitar playing was front and center. Following ‘The Wake’ was the trance-infused ‘Stopless’, the vibey house of ‘Be My Ghost’ and the multi-genre ‘Clownspunk’ (has there ever been a better name for a track?) before the album released in full with even more surprises. It seemed with these singles, Pescetti was trying to ease his audience in, but adherents to one specific genre were still put on notice: Daystar Nocturnal was meant to challenge what their favourite beats were meant to sound like.

As Pescetti has a love of all things ambient and melodic, the styles that can be pinned down in Daystar Nocturnal do indeed contain those elements, but from there, like the celestial sounding title, the sky is the limit. With ‘Clownspunk’ in its rightful place as the album opener, the nearly beatless ‘Macchia, I’ll See You…’ takes the vibe in a trap-meets-Tangerine Dream direction, whilst the song after that, ‘Obsidian,’ is more 90s-era Duran Duran-meets-breakbeat. His telltale melodic synths are always there, however, so the album it still a cohesive work despite all the variance in technical genre.

Whilst Daystar Nocturnal has been out for some months, Pescetti is now using its tracks to play with his other passion: the visual arts. There have been three music videos released thus far. The trippy AI visualiser of ‘The Wake’ lends weight to the original track whilst the dancers in the 90s-coloured video for ‘Be My Ghost’ pay homage to where this producer draws so much of his influence from. ‘Clownspunk,’ rightly so is synced up with a vintage Charlie Chaplin film called ‘The Circus’ from exactly 100 years ago and it works perfectly. Most recently, just ahead of pride month, Pescetti released the video for ‘Sundog’ featuring prolific trans dancer and model Archer Rose. Rose’s interpretive dance brings new intensity and dimension to the track and really hammers home one of the main points of this album: style, substance, norms and comfort zones are all constructs, meant to be broken out of.

It will be interesting to see, now that Gianfranco Pescetti is back to producing, what other boundaries he can push. With the stunning visuals of his videos only pushing him to further play with his work and not compromise, there’s no telling what sort of limits he’ll test going forward. In the meantime, there’s much more to explore with Daystar Nocturnal.

Daystar Nocturnal and Pescetti’s other works can be streamed on Spotify or purchased on his Bandcamp page. To see more videos, check out his YouTube channel.