Friday, 9 November 2012

SARCASTIC BEDTIME STORIES

Baroque are an Italian prog band from Turin that began life in 2004. The line up features Matteo Tambussi aka Matt Le Mad (vocals, guitar), Stefano Tiozzo (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals), Alessandro Ghigo (drums) and Alberto Ghigo (bass, backing vocals). After many intense, sparkling live performances, in 2008 they released a debut album titled “La fiaba della buonanotte” (The bedtime story) on the French label Musea Records. On stage Baroque have a funny and very theatrical approach. They managed to shape an original sound blending raw, heavy guitar riffs with melody, psychedelic and classical operatic influences. The result is an amazing musical delirium full of irony and interesting intuitions. Despite the name, do not expect to listen to a clone of PFM or to a “baroque music ensemble veined of rock” but to an original band full of energy and ready to start a sonic assault to conventions.


The first track “Overture” is a short instrumental introduction that could be used as a soundtrack for a horror film. It fades out into “Batracomiomachia”, a funny piece about the eternal war between men and women. The title was inspired by a parody based on the Iliad that tells the war between frogs and mice.


Next comes “(me)Mento”, a straightforward rock track about lies. You can lie to everyone even to yourself and get lost into your own circus of lies... The following “Nera” is a “shining black” ballad, black like a lost memory... “Sea, please cradle me away in the night / Don’t throw me against the shore again...”. It leads to “Scherzo n°1 in RE min”, which begins with the sound of a baroque harpsichord and a solemn marching beat, then the rhythm section brings in curious, light “British waves”. This track is sung in English and every now and again it could vaguely recall The Beatles.

The next track, “La corte degli scontenti”, starts with a rhythm pattern that could recall The Knack’s My Sharona. It’s a straightforward and ironic rock song where the band mock people who are never satisfied. It leads to “Santa pazienza”, a beautiful instrumental piece where classical piano patterns are intertwined with guitar riffs on joyful changing rhythms. It's one of my favourite tracks on this album. Next comes “Cenere”, a delicate ballad featuring piano and acoustic guitar, where love dreams burn and become nothing but ashes...


“Operetta n°1 - La demoniaca” tries to describe man fighting against his own demons. It’s a track full of joyful and positive energy where ironic operatic vocals sing “I will use a machete against your sharp tongues / You won’t laugh at me anymore...”.

“La regina nera” (The black queen) is introduced by a classical piano pattern. It features sarcastic lyrics about the cruelty of a black queen and amazing vocal parts. It’s a nice blend of hard rock and operetta. Next comes “La carie”, a funny and complex mix of styles from honky-tonk to hard rock, operetta and melody featuring lyrics inspired by a toothache... “Oniricausto” is another funny and dreamy musical delirium while the final bonus track “Boris Bestiarius” sounds like a last joke, mixing black metal and nursery rhymes. Well, on the whole a very interesting and unconventional prog album!

Baroque: La fiaba della buonanotte (2008). Other opinions:
Olav Martin Biørnsen: Italian act Baroque has made a real gem of an album with "La Fiaba Della Buonanotte", where the limiting factors in its appeal will be the Italian language vocals and the punk-tinged aggressive guitar antics. Those who don't mind these facets, and who would like an album of innovative music that probably can be said to belong somewhere in the heavier parts of the art rock department, should really consider getting this disc: highly recommended of course... (read the complete review HERE).


Baroque
 

The follow up of “La fiaba della buonanotte” was released in 2011 on the independent label Hertz Brigade Records and is titled “Rocq”. The line up is the same as in the debut work and features Matteo Tambussi (vocals, guitar), Stefano Tiozzo (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals), Alessandro Ghigo (drums) and Alberto Ghigo (bass, backing vocals). On this work the band confirm that the strong theatrical attitude and the leaning for sarcasm and irony are their trademarks, all along with an excellent musicianship and a fresh, never banal song-writing that blends indie rock and operetta with vintage sounds, progressive and psychedelia.

The opener “Cardiopasto” (Cardio-meal) features some powerful organ passages and some heavy electric guitar riffs. The lyrics depict the surreal confession of a terrible crime: a man murdered his girlfriend, then ate her heart... “Officer, I tried hard to repress my instinct, to forget her whining / But it was my fate / I had to do it / Even Saturn was against me... It's not my fault if I drink blood / It's not my fault if I eat heart...”. The atmosphere of the following “La festa dell'alloro” (The laurel party) is lighter and carefree. It's a funny, lively anthem against sadness and melancholy... “It's a kind of magic / Lively little words, a wriggle that drives me away / It makes cheerfulness come back / It has an addictive effect...”.


“Karatechismo” is a caustic piece that deals with the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church about the use of anti-contraceptives. Next comes the short, ironic “Parlapetalo” that conjures up a sixty “beat” parody to portray a merciless, mean bank manager. “Mio fratello si droga” (My brother is a junky) features two guests musicians, Federico Bocchi (percussion and Alessandro Calindro (sax) who add more colours to the band's palette. It recalls the Italian “cantautore” Giorgio Gaber and his “teatro-canzone” - but with a heavier, sharper edge - and contains a strong criticism against the lack of ideals of an old-fashioned way of life. Then comes “For You”, sung in English, that features a bitter-sweet, romantic mood and a retro atmosphere while the following “Il camaleonte” (The chameleon) recalls the Beatles and portrays an “ever-changing” man who deceives everyone to escape from his responsibilities. 

Baroque 2011

“Il pesce” (The fish) and “Gli avvoltoi hanno fame” (The vultures are hungry) are linked together and form a complex mini suite inspired by the gospels. The visionary lyrics are sharp like dagger blades. A man betrayed by the kiss of a false friend asks: - What's left of all this years of hard work? - The answer is bitter, almost cruel... “I will be the balm, I will become the spear and then the stone that will touch your head / The vultures are gliding on us / Their wings are light years long / Try to come down from your cross now, if you can / If I think back / These years have been years of hard work / What's left?... What's left?...”.

“Scherzo n°2 in mi minore” is sung in English and depicts a kind of ghastly dance around the grave of a suicidal humankind who raped mother Earth in the name of a “super libidinous, brand new god”... “I've been digging a hole / Down along the cove of black cold / Where they buried the world / Hellaluja!”. The following “L'antipatico” (Unpleasant) is an ironic, swinging track that depicts a man who wishes all the possible bad luck to his enemy but then has to admit with a pinch of cynicism that, all in all they are not so different. The last track, “Soup de la maison”, is sung partially in English and partially in Italian and draws an apocalyptic, psychedelic vision where a human rain falls down on the seabed for Neptune's banquet. While Jim Morrison and Freddy Mercury seem to smile in the background, “let the ocean carry you away...”.

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