Wednesday, 20 May 2020

CRAZY TUNES

Disco Dooro is the second album by Bolognese band Feat. Esserelà. It was released in 2019 on the independent label Joe Frassino Records and distributed in collaboration with Lizard Records. The line up is the same of the debut album and features Francesco Ciampolini (keyboards, fretless bass), Renato Minguzzi (guitars) and Lorenzo Muggia (drums) but during the recording sessions this time they were helped by some guests such as Lorenzo Musca (sax), Dario Nipoti (trumpet) and Michele Tamburini (sax) who contributed to enrich the sound. The final result is a fresh mix of vintage sounds, progressive rock, jazz, fusion, funk and classical music confirming all the good qualities of their previous work. According to the liner notes, on this album you can find sources of inspiration ranging from Koji Kondo (a Japanese music composer, pianist, and sound director who works for the video game company Nintendo, best known for his involvement in numerous contributions in the Mario and The Legend of Zelda series of video games) to a Bulgarian anonymous, from Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Zappa to Gioacchino Rossini but there’s many more and all the musician involved showcase great musicianship. As for the cover and booklet, the band asked the visual artist Vanni Venturini to draw some pictures of bizarre, colourful and extravagant characters to represent their music and he did a really beautiful job...


The short opener “Lauto grill” is just a funny intro a cappella in the vein of the hidden track that ends Tuorl, the band’s debut album, a kind of subliminal and reassuring message of continuity. The first real piece, “Kajitemeco”, starts by frenzied keyboard rustic(an) rides and rhythm pyrotechnics but at some point it veers into another musical direction taking synthetic, hallucinated paths and a slower pace. The following track, “Servi della klepa”, is an excellent mix of classical influences and jazz rock with a perfect interaction between piano and guitar. Then it’s the turn of “Sahara...” and “...svegliati è primavehera” that are linked together: the titles seem to hint that here we are in front of the parody of a famous song by Italian cantautore Antonello Venditti (Sara) but luckily it’s just a false clue and the music flows away like an apple riding a leaf, sailing toward the waters of the Black Sea for the pleasure of Area’s fans.


To describe “La nascita di Lodovico Svarchi” (a very short track that sounds like the fragment of a cartoon score) and “Lodovico Svarchi” I think that there is no better way than to look at the central picture in the booklet that portrays a strange zombie in a surreal world. The music starts softly with a dreamy atmosphere and a soaring sax solo, then the rhythm rises while raw electric guitar riffs sweep the dreams away. Who’s Lodovico Svarchi? Maybe he’s just a commuter crushed down by the daily grind, slowly waking up and going to work leaving his dreams behind... 


Next comes “Popoloto”, an interesting blend of jazz rock and Mediterranean influences, while the following “La fine di Lodovico Svarchi...” is just a kind of conceptual joke: the shortest song (1,17 seconds) with longest title (888 characters) in the world! Then the nervous virtuosic rides of “(…) aio” and the joyful “Intro (by Intronyo)” end an album that it’s really worth listening to.

Have a try! You can listen to the complete album HERE

More info:

Saturday, 2 May 2020

DYNAMICS AND CONTRASTS

Violato intatto, the fourth studio album by Bolognese band Accordo dei Contrari, was released in 2017 on the independent label Altrock with a renewed line up featuring Marco Marzo (electric and acoustic guitar), Stefano Radaelli (sax, bowed zither), Cristian Franchi (drums) and Giovanni Parmeggiani (Fender Rhodes, organ, Minimoog, Arp Odyssey, Mellotron). According to the liner notes, this work was recorded live at Le Dune studio in Riolo Terme, a small town in the province of Ravenna, with the help of some guests such as Alessando Bonetti (violin), Gabriele Di Giulio (tenor sax) and Patrizia Urbani (vocals). The recording sessions took only three days, with some overdubs, and the final result is the expression of a very cohesive collective that reflects the positive atmosphere of the period the band spent together with the aim of depicting the dynamics or the contrasts you see in everyday life through sounds...


The excellent opener “Folia Saxifraga” combines funky, jazz and mysterious Mediterranean atmospheres and every and now could recall Area. It was composed by Giovanni Parmeggiani who, in the liner notes,  dedicated it to his band, Accordo dei Contrari. The following “Monodia” is darker and sprinkled with touches of jazz and psychedelia while “Blue-S”, composed by guitarist Marco Marzo, is a nervous track that every now and again could recall King Crimson.


The nightmarish “Shamash”, begins by a disquieting electronic section,  then the rhythm takes off driving you through Middle Eastern deserts ravaged by war. In fact, according to the liner notes, this track is dedicated to the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud and to the victims of terrorism and in my opinion the music is perfect to evoke the present-day landscape of the tormented cities of what was ancient Mesopotamia... 

Next comes “Idios Cosmos”, a weird track composed by Stefano Radaelli and led by the notes of the saxophone. The title refers to a view of the world that is developed from personal experience and knowledge and is therefore unique... Then it’s the turn of the nocturnal “E verde è l’ignoto su cui corri” (And green is the unknown on which you run). Despite the Italian title, this piece is sung in English by the guest Patrizia Urbani who evokes dreamy inner worlds and colourful, ethereal landscapes...

Accordo dei Contrari 2017

“Marienkirche” begins by the sound of the bells of a church in Mollis, Switzerland, recorded on the field in a July morning in 2015. It’s a short evocative track, almost an example of musique concrète, that the composer Giovanni Parmeggiani dedicated to his family. It leads to the interesting experiments of  “Di eccezione in variante” (From exception to variant) and to the mysterious, sparkling “Usil”, a beautiful piece named after the Etruscan god of the sun... 

“Eros vs Anteros” was composed by guitarist Marco Marzo and is another excellent piece with strong Mediterranean flavours that could recall Area. The title suggests the contrast between two gods in ancient Greek mythology: Eros, the god of sexual attraction, and Anteros, the god that represented requited love and used to punish those who were not interested in love or not returning other people’s love... Then, “Il violato intatto” (The violated intact) ends the album with a good dose of energy and vibrant contrasts.


On the whole, in my opinion this is an excellent (almost) instrumental work recommended to fans of bands such as Area, D.F.A. or Perigeo.

You can listen to the complete album HERE

Accordo dei Contrari: Violato intatto (2017). Other opinions:
Michael “Aussie-Byrd-Brother”: Don't be put off by the seventy-three minute running time here, as the wide variety of material always keeps the disc fresh, vibrant and exciting through bring a range of emotions - some attack with a fury, some challenge the mind, others craft immersive atmospheres and then there are just blasts of cool energy aiming to be fun. It all amounts to `Violato Intatto' likely being Accordo dei Contrari's true masterwork… Until their next album most likely! Instrumental album freaks, jazz/fusion fans and lovers of challenging and off-kilter progressive music, here's very likely your favourite album of 2017... (You can read the complete review HERE)

More info:

Thursday, 23 April 2020

UNDER CONTROL

Third is the third album by Milanese neo-prog band Silver Key and was released in 2019 on the independent label Ma.Ra.Cash Records with a renewed line up featuring veterans Roberto Buchicchio (guitars, vocals), Ivano Tognetti (bass) and Davide Manara (keyboards, synthesizers) along with a new vocalist, Dino Procopio, who had the hard task to replace founder member Yuri Abietti. The guests Minin Yegnan Ndiaye (drums) and Helena Jansson (backing vocals) completed the team that recorded the album, a conceptual work loosely inspired by Schopenhauer’s philosophy and related to the search for freedom and to the necessity to get rid of our instincts to be masters of our lives, as pointed out in the liner notes by Barbara Parodi… To be honest, despite the good intentions, lyrics are not the strength of this album and the concept is a bit confused but the music is good and I’m sure that neo-prog lovers will enjoy it.


The aggressive opener “A Common Soldier” tries to express in music and words the will to react to the misfortunes of life by fighting adversities to escape from the black shadows of an ominous fate. In the first part the war against the destiny rages on while the second part is calmer and reflects some painful memories from the difficult childhood of the protagonist... Then it’s the turn of “V.R.”, a track with a strong synthetic sound that deals with virtual reality and the powers and dangers of unbridled imagination... 


Next comes “Ulysses” that begins by a dreamy piano pattern and soaring vocals before taking different musical directions. It tries to describe an endless virtual journey on the internet where, like Homer’s hero, the protagonist is tempted by deceiving mermaids and eventually gets lost, caught in a shining web made of tricky ads and other traps...  

The dark, nightmarish “I Wish” is about the insane, compelling instincts that sometimes drive evil doers and the impossibility to control them while the following “Last Love” is calmer and deals with the crazy addiction to a hopeless love...

Silver Key on stage 2019

The last track “Back To The Present” is a long, complex suite divided into five parts (A Rude Awakening – Back To The Present – Murder – Endless War – The Door Shuts) that resumes the story of a madman locked up in a psychiatric hospital. The first part, tense and full of dark energy, tells of the sudden awakening of the protagonist who can’t exactly remember what happened to him but still feels an uncontrollable rage and has to be sedated… The second part is calmer and completely instrumental, then on the third section theatrical vocals come back to dig out hidden memories. There’s the murder of a woman and probably it was not the first one… The fourth part brings up other painful memories like the moment when the protagonist was fired and lost his job and the loss of his mother… The last part closes the album with a short narrative part showing the satisfaction of the medical staff who are sure to have found the right cure for their patient and the way to control his instincts. Eventually, after a tense instrumental passage, you can hear again the desperate voice of the protagonist saying “I have no hope”.

On the whole, a good work with some interesting ideas. Anyway, have a try and judge by yourselves.

You can listen to the complete album HERE


More info: