Wednesday, 2 September 2015


Algebra are an Italian prog band from Benevento that was formed in early eighties on the initiative of keyboardist Rino Pastore and drummer Salvatore Silvestri. Well, this band is not one of the most prolific ones.... After a debut album in 1994, “Storia di un Iceberg”, in 2009 they released this second work for the independent label AMS/BTF, “JL”, inspired by Richard Bach’s book “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”. The current line-up features Mario Giammetti (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass), Rino Pastore (keyboards), Roberto Polcino (keyboards, accordion), Francesco Ciani (drums, acoustic and electronic percussion) and Maria Giammetti (alto and soprano sax, flute). In studio they were helped by some prestigious guest musicians such as, among others, Steve and John Hackett, Aldo Tagliapietra, Lino Vairetti and Goran Kuzminac that helped enrich the sound. Algebra are great fans of Genesis, but the music on this work is definitely less derivative than on their previous one. It’s conceived as a long suite and features some really good melodic, emotional passages...

It was morning, and the new sun sparkled gold across the ripples of a gentle sea... The opener “Il molo deserto” (The deserted pier) begins softly, two flutes wake up, then an electric guitar solo (played by Steve Hackett) soars like a flight of seagulls... On the next track the vocals of Aldo Tagliapietra, on a calm background, draw the image of a solitary gull, which doesn’t care for food like the others... “His name is Jonathan and he loves flying / He flies far away / To lightly touch new horizons...”.

Next comes “Il volo perfetto” (The perfect flight) where the emotional vocals of Osanna’s leader Lino Vairetti describe Jonathan’s practice until the notes of a sax solo lead to the light, delicate instrumental “Aria nuova” (New air). We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!

La gogna” (Stand to Center) describes the reaction of the flock against the strange attitude of Jonathan. “Jonathan Livingston Seagull! Stand to Center!” The Elder’s words sounded in a voice of highest ceremony... “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”, said the Elder, “Stand to Center for Shame in the sight of your fellow gulls!”... “For his reckless irresponsibility”, the solemn voice intoned, “violating the dignity and tradition of the Gull Family...”. The solemn threatening voice of the Elder and the puzzled voice of Jonathan are interpreted by Rino Pastore and Mario Giammetti with passion, then a delicate flute passage leads to another beautiful instrumental “I gabbiani non volano al buio” (Seagulls never fly in the dark). Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons why a gull’s life is short, and with this gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed.

Un’altra dimensione” (A new perspective) opens with a delicate organ sound, then synthesizers and an electric guitar solo introduce the voice of Goran Kuzminac who sings describing the meeting between Jonathan and two radiant gulls that show him the way to higher knowledge... “Come with us they said to him / One school is finished, and the time has come for another to begin / And they disappeared together into the night...”. Well, Goran Kuzminac is one of my favourite Italian singer songwriters and it was a true pleasure for me to listen to his contribution on this album!
Next comes “Al naufragio del mio sogno” (The shipwrecked dream) that features the operatic vocals of Gianfranco Casiero soaring from a dreamy atmosphere and melts into the exotic percussive pattern of the short instrumental “Un battito d’ali” (A single beat of wings)... “I’m still alive / In the caresses of every wind breath...”. So this is heaven, he thought, and he had to smile at himself. It was hardly respectful to analyze heaven in the very moment that one flies up to enter it.

On “Ciang” (Chiang) the intense voice of Italian rocker Graziano Romani describes a new leg of Jonathan’s path to perfection and the meeting with the Elder Gull Chiang... “I am Chiang and I am the Elder Gull / I am here to teach you to fly / You will go to heaven / When you reach the perfect speed...”. “We choose our next world through what we learn in this one. Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome... Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect!”.

Il fattore tempo” (Working in time) is a beautiful jazzy instrumental where Maria Giammetti’s saxophone evolves upon a background of counter-bass and piano. “Those who put aside travel for the sake of perfection go anywhere, instantly. Remember Jonathan, heaven isn’t a place or a time, because place and time are so very meaningless...”. The following track, “Il richiamo” (The callback), is about Jonathan’s need to come back to his old flock to show other young seagulls what he has learned and to teach them how to fly... Hope and nostalgia mixed together in a delicate ballad with a beautiful finale where sax and electric guitar take the lead.

On “Fletcher” the lyrics describe the meeting between Jonathan and his new student, Fletcher. New sensations and feelings, new theses overcoming old rules while exotic notes of saxophone lead to the delicate instrumental “Soffi da Oriente” (Gusts from the East)...

Un’infinita idea di libertà” (An unlimited idea of freedom) is another excellent instrumental, joyful and relaxed at the same time, while the following “Ritorno allo stormo” (Back to the flock) begins in a more elaborate, dramatic way... “Break the chains / They keep the thoughts in prison / Then the body will be free too...”.

Algebra 2004

Presa di coscienza” (Awareness) is beautiful piece about hope... It tells of the meeting between Jonathan and a gull with a broken wing, Maynard... “If you want to fly / Open your wings / And take it easy...”. And Maynard, the injured gull took off towards the sky, in the wind! “Nel vento della grande montagna” (In the Great Mountain wind) is another short instrumental that slightly reminds me of Le Orme’s “Aliante” and features John Hackett on flute.

You need to keep finding yourself, a little more each day, that real, unlimited Fletcher Seagull. He’s your instructor... A moment later Jonathan’s body wavered in the air, shimmering, and began to become transparent... “L’addio” (Goodbye) and the following complex instrumental final act “Atto finale” are a perfect epilogue for a very good album that could give you the chance to rediscover an amazing book...

 From Rock Progressivo Italiano: An introduction to Italian Progressive Rock

No comments:

Post a Comment