Saturday, 28 September 2013

A VISUAL PERCEPTION OF SOUNDS

Ske is the brainchild of keyboardist and composer from Varese Paolo “Ske” Botta who features also in the line up of bands such as Yugen and Not A Good Sign. In 2010 he gathered around him some excellent musicians such as Fabio Ciro Ceriani (percussion), Valerio Cipollone (clarinet), Enrica Di Bastiano (harp), Maurizio Fasoli (piano), Elia Leon Mariani (violin), Nicolas Nikolopoulos (flute), Giuspeppe Jos Olvini (theremin, percussion), Roberta Pagani (vocals), Valerio Neth Reina (vocals), Mattia Signò (drums), Markus Stauss (sax), Fabrice Toussaint (trombone), Pierre Wawrzyniak (bass) and Francesco Zago (guitars) for the recording sessions of a début album, “1000 Autunni” (Thousand Autumns), that was released in 2011 on the independent label Altr0ck/Fading Records). The result is an amazing instrumental work, extremely rich in sounds and ideas, where you can find a perfectly balanced mix of classical influences, vintage keyboards, symphonic rock, avant-garde and many more. Anyway, the beautiful art work might describe the music better than my words.


The opener “Fraguglie” sets the atmosphere painting an evocative autumnal landscape. You can almost hear the gentle steps of a giant moving through an enchanted wood and directed to the court of the Crimson King. You can even hear some nice tunes soaring from the wood, then the mood becomes hypnotic and you risk to get lost. The following “Denti” (Teeth) is darker and filled with a heavy tension.


Well, perhaps the giant is not directed to the hall of a British castle but in a mysterious nursing home in the Carpathian mountains. The music goes on with the exotic, sensual “Carta e Burro” (Paper and butter) and the nervous, tense “Scrupoli” (Scruples). To be honest, I've recently read a novel by French writer Maurice Renard titled L'homme truqué (The phoney man) and when listening to this album the rhythm and the images evoked by the book come back to my mind, I can't help it! The novel starts as a crime story: a physician is murdered, then the investigations reveal some secret experiments on human beings and the attempt to discover a sixth sense through the implantation of electroscopes into a blind man's eyes. What would it happen if they applied an electrical-ear on your optical nerves? “You would see the sounds, you wouldn't listen to them any more, you would have a visual perception of the world of sounds...”.


Delta” begins with a relaxed, dreamy mood that seems to conjure up some memories from a happy childhood, then the course of thoughts risks to get lost in the ripples. “Scogli 1” (Rocks 1) comes as a short, disquieting break while the ethereal “Sotto sotto” (Underneath) delves into the unconscious... “Those who have lost their loved ones know the sacred game of reviving them concentrating all the forces of memory and imagination to create shadows that look like them...”. Just another short quotation from L'homme truqé to introduce the following “Mummia” (Mummy) and its bold games of shadows and lights.



Scogli 2” (Rocks 2) is a short, dark interlude that leads to the charming “La Nefazia di Multatuli” (I fear the title can't be translated and I don't know if it contains any reference to the Dutch writer Multatuli or to a siren queen called Nefazia). Another short interlude, “Scogli 3” (Rocks 3) leads to the conclusive “Rassegnati” (Resigned), a beautiful, complex track with sudden changes in mood and rhythm.

On the whole, this is a great instrumental album where not a single note sounds out of place. It could be the perfect score for a thriller, the music is challenging but never boring and it's really worth listening to.

Ske: 1000 Autunni (2011). Other opinions:
Raffaella Benvenuto-Berry: An intriguing, refined album, 1000 Autunni offers something for nearly everyone. Even though those who crave extended compositions, with flights of instrumental fancy and lush vocal harmonies, will probably not appreciate the album as much as RIO/Avant and Canterbury devotees, this is a truly eclectic effort that bridges the gap between the great Seventies tradition and the more forward-thinking directions of progressive rock. Like most AltrOck releases, the album is also a treat in the visual sense, with a stunning cover shot of autumn leaves (taken by Botta himself, who has a background in design and visual communication) and the stylish layout of the very detailed liner notes. Definitely one of those discs whose full potential will unfold at every successive listen, 1000 Autunni is poised to become one of the standout releases of 2011... (read the complete review HERE)
Steven Reid: Not for the feint hearted, 1000 Autunni is a hugely satisfying and rewarding listening experience which makes an immediate impression, whilst still growing in stature the more familiar you become with it. Impressive stuff indeed... (read the complete review HERE)