I Pennelli di Vermeer are an Italian prog band from Naples that was formed in 2003 by Pasquale Sorrentino (vocals, acoustic guitar), Giovanni Santoro (bass), Raffele Polimeno (keyboards), Pasquale Palombo (electric guitar) and Marco Sorrentino (drums, vocals). All the members of the band are fond of painting, so they decided to call their project “I Pennlli di Vermeer” (The Vermeer’s Brushes) in honour to the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675). This passion can be found in their music as well, a wonderful patchwork of different influences and styles ranging from symphonic rock to ska, tango, baroque, nursery rhyme. “La primavera dei sordi” (The springtime of the deaf), their first full length album was released in 2008 on the independent label La Canzonetta and features some special guests (among others Lino Vairetti, leader of Osanna) who contributed to enrich the sound. The result is very good: the ten tracks were composed mixing together different colours like in painting, combining shadows and lights with sarcasm and irony. The lyrics are full of double meanings and are often sung in a very particular and theatrical way.
The opener “Tre cadaveri nel cassetto” (Three corpses in the drawer) is a kind of dark, witty nursery rhyme built upon a strange marching beat, while the next track “Manifesto cm 70x100” is a sarcastic, committed piece featuring a bizarre rhythm of ska. It condemns a policy made of words without actions that let rubbish cover the streets of
. The mood changes on the following track “Cinque minuti... una notte” (Five minutes... A night), a dreamy and “colourful” ballad... Naples
Next comes “L’urlo” (The scream), a piece inspired by an Edvard Munch’s famous painting. It features Osanna’s Lino Vairetti as a special guest and it’s an interesting mix of country, hard rock and even opera compressed in less that three minutes... “There is a reason behind every scream / Pain, joy, rage, a simple emotion...”. Then comes “Nel giardino di Belzebù” (In Beelzebub’s garden), a kind of journey through the dark paths of love that features beautiful female vocals and a delicate melody.
“S.K.L.ERO” is more aggressive, almost “electro”, and deals with drug addiction while the following “Luce” (Light) is a funny piece where different musical influences (ranging from baroque to rock, from folk to “varieté française”) are the perfect background for light words that seem to be conceived as “touches of colour”. The futuristic “Incuboinuncubo” (Nightmare in a cube) is about “trash TV” while the ironic and irreverent “Carogna” (Stinker) features an almost operatic atmosphere and a good guitar work. The last track “Autogestione” (Self-management) could be a perfect soundtrack for the recent protests of the Italian students and features a children choir and a funny swinging march rhythm...
On the whole “La primavera dei sordi” is a very interesting album, funny and fresh. Even if it lasts less than 40 minutes, there are no weak moments and it’s really worth to check out. You can listen to the album in streaming HERE
I Pennelli di Vermeer: La primavera dei sordi (2008). Other opinions:
Erik Neuteboom: During my first listening session I was blown away, what a varied and unique prog this is with an important role for the vocals, from an opera-like female voice to theatrical vocal harmonies or even a small children choir... (read the complete review HERE)