Wednesday, 16 November 2011

NEXT DOOR APOCALYPSE

I Treni All’Alba are a prog band from the north western Italy that began life between Aosta and Turin in 2003. The line up features Paolo Carlotto (acoustic and electric guitar), Daniele Pierini (acoustic and electric guitar), Sabino Pace (piano and keyboards) and Felice Sciscioli (drums and percussion). All the members are experienced musicians with different influences that managed to shape an amazing blend of folk and progressive rock. In 2008 they released their first full length album “Folk Destroyers” on the independent label Smartz Records. The album was recorded with the help of some guest musicians that contributed to enrich the sparkling sound of the band by adding counter bass, flutes, sax, congas, trumpet, violin, accordion and many other musical colours.


“Watch TV, buy, obey the authorities, do not think, do believe in the collective truth, no ideas, no imagination...” . The only vocal parts on this album are some ominous warnings freely taken from “They Live”, a 1988 film directed by John Carpenter where aliens rule on the world thanks to TV broadcasts and mass media. The music flows away as if in a long suite where quiet acoustic and folkloric passages melt in fiery percussion rides and vice versa. Some sources of inspiration could be found in the album “Anime salve” by Fabrizio De André, there are also reminders of samba, tarantella, Ravel, Piazzolla, Le Orme and PFM... The single tracks have no titles but each track is described in the beautiful booklet with a drawing by Domenico Sorrenti.



Some words taken from a book by the Italian writer Stefano Benni that you can find in the booklet could describe the right approach to this work: “We should always feel as we are leaving the next day, or like we have just got back. Everything becomes more precious: what we leave and what we find. To hear the tiny voice of hope, beyond the screams of pain. Hope, it could be interesting to come in a train station to find it...”. The name of the band, I Treni All’Alba, means the trains at dawn... Well, on the whole an excellent starting point!

In 2011 the band released a sophomore album titled “2011 A.D.” on the independent label INRI. As in their previous work the line up features Paolo Carlotto (acoustic and electric guitar, guitarra de coimbra), Daniele Pierini (acoustic and electric guitar, tuba nad trombone synth), Sabino Pace (piano and synth) and Felice Sciscioli (drums) but in the studio this time they were helped only by Francesco Vittori (bass) and Ramon Moro (flugelhorn). The subtitle of this work is “L’apocalisse della porta accanto” (Next door apocalypse) and according to the band the beautiful art cover by their friend Domenico Sorrenti, a painter often involved in musical performances, depicts in a perfect and harmonic way the “concept” of the album.





Well, while I’m writing these lines in the Italian media you can find many images of floods and raging waters ravaging the coast and the cities of Liguria. There is a strange resemblance between the album cover and the landscape of Le Cinque Terre... On the colourful, suggestive art cover you can see the fury of the elements raging on the seashore, the houses the village are deformed and you can see their facades showing feelings. Men are nothing but ghosts, lost souls... 

After an excellent acoustic guitar intro close your eyes and imagine Attila climbing up from hell, leading his Huns. They come up cautiously, then they began to dance savouring chaos and destruction... Well the second track of the album, “Attila”, could be a just metaphor to describe a man who has lost every respect for the environment...


The title of the next track “L’arte della guerra” (The art of war) recalls one of the oldest and most successful books about military strategy, attributed to the Chinese strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu. It’s strange how men can be clever and inventive when they plan to wage war on their fellow men and how they can be vain, ineffective when they have to prevent the fury of mother nature...  

  
There are demons riding the waves... The complex , dramatic “Il demone” (The demon) seems to describe the dance of our fears before judgement day. “L’apocalisse” (The apocalypse) is another beautiful track where you can imagine light and dark clashing with a cathartic force...
 
The title of “Tempi moderni?” (Modern times?) recalls a famous film directed by Charlie Chaplin in 1936, Modern Times. The beginning of this track is slow, almost dark. Is this progress? What are the consequences of modernity? What will we endure until the end of the world? Here the sound of the electric guitar seems to announce hard times, then the rhythm raises and makes itself into a frenzy. Then on “Fino alla fine... del mondo” (Until the end... of the world) you can hear the echoes of a surreal tango led by the Grim Reaper...


“Distrettotredici” (Precinct 13) recalls the title of a 1976 film directed by John Carpenter, “Assault on Precinct 13”. It could be a perfect score for an action movie where the protagonists play with death. The conclusive “Streghe” (Witches) features a folkloric, colourful atmosphere where you can imagine some mocking witches who are merrily dancing on a simple tune before they unveil their rage and cruelty on the fiery finale.
 
Well, the album is completely instrumental and I don’t know if my interpretation of the concept is correct. Nonetheless the music is amazing, some Mediterranean folkloric elements are blended with other influences giving you plenty of hints and suggestions. Listen to the music and imagine what you want but for sure this is an album that deserves more than a spin...

I Treni all'Alba: 2011 A.D. (2011). Other opinions:
Jim Russell: I Treni All'Alba from Torino are one of Italy's finest bands regardless of how you choose to categorize their eclectic instrumental brew. Their second album is a continuation of their fine debut and if anything may be stronger. These guys are just incredible players! They take folk music appreciation and turn it right on its head. Melodic acoustic numbers are performed by guys who have the prowess of jazz-fusion dudes, then they throw it at you with the energy of a sweaty punk band. That's not to say they can't be gentle and nuanced, for they have that covered too. They have near-perfect instincts for balancing their lively concoction and keeping the listener somewhere between headbanging and eyes-closed bliss... (read the complete review HERE)
Conor Fynes:  I could say that '2011 A.D.' lacks the hooks to become instantly memorable and enjoyable, but the musicianship and warmth of the textures that this band uses are enough to carry me over to the point where the music is familiar enough to enjoy, hooks irregardless. An excellent album... (read the complete review HERE)