Friday, 8 June 2018

MORTAR AND CONCRETE

La Malta Bastarda were formed in 2002 in San Giovanni in Persiceto, a small town in the province of Bologna. The name of the band refers to a kind of mortar, a workable paste used to bind building blocks and concrete masonry units together, fill and seal the irregular gaps between them, and sometimes add decorative colours or patterns in masonry walls. In same way the name describes their music, a particular mix of jazz, prog, classical, avant-garde and surreal poetry. After many years of hard work, some line up changes, a good live activity on the local scene and three self-produced demos entitled La Malta Bastarda (2002), Palude (2005) and Beata ignoranza (2012), in 2016 the band released their eponymous first official album on the independent label A Simple Lunch with a line up featuring Luca Ferrigno (vocals), Benedetto Ferrigno (synth, backing vocals), Elisa Sala (marimba, trombone, percussion), Carlo S. Tedeschi (clarinet, sax), Marcello Melotti (keyboards), Davide Cotti (guitars), Daniele Cosmi (bass), Lorenzo Scagliarini (drums) plus the guest Karl Segnoe (bandoneon, narrative vocals) on two tracks. It’s an interesting work that every now and again could recall other bands from Emilia such as Akt or Deus Ex Machina…


The opener “00” is just a short introduction that leads to the sarcastic “Musica delle sfere” (Music of the spheres), a track that invites you to wake up and leave behind abstract dreams and fantasies, fairy tales and animated cartoons. The music veers from calm passages to frenzied, almost hysteric moments with Balkan explosions of sounds and energy à la Goran Bregovic while the vocals are theatrical and passionate and could recall of Alvaro Fella from Jumbo. It’s a peculiar kind of social criticism suggesting that it might be easier smashing and milling a camel to make it pass through the eye of a needle than to change the evil in human nature... 

The jazzy “Polipi” (Polyps) compares the end of a troubled relationship to the image of two polyps in a sushi bar that, on the brink of death, are still trying to reach each other tentacles, separated by a thin thread of horseradish sauce. Then it’s the turn of the dark “Ma che bello è” (How beautiful is) that tells of five dead scoundrels whose corpses are lying underwater, at the bottom of a lake, in a kind of restless sleep. But every night they come to life again to stroll in the streets of the near town enjoying their new nightlife after death… Here the music has some hints of zehul ad a strong theatrical approach.

La Malta Bastarda on stage, 2017 

Then comes the lively, ironic “Fagotto” (Bundle) that reminds me of Fabrizio De Andrè with its tarantella rhythm and folksy atmosphere. The lyrics are about hidden shame and guilt and their contrast with people appearances and values while the following “Fasti#” is a funny reflection about music and the importance of the black keys to stir emotions.

Then, the funny “Fango” (Mud) blends blues, waltzes and diabolic tangos, Latin shadows and Mediterranean flavours while the disquieting “Robottini” (Little robots) deals with consumerism and production, machines and human work, telling of a new sophisticated robot that could replace even journalists and reporters...

The closer “Mr. Valdemar” was inspired by "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar", a short story by Edgar Allan Poe about a scientist who puts a man in a suspended hypnotic state at the moment of death. It’s another good piece that mixes dark atmospheres and sarcasm in a peculiar, original way.

On the whole, a very good work! You can listen to the complete album HERE

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1 comment:

  1. thank you for the great review!
    in addition to the studio album we've just published a pair of live albums on Bandcamp:
    https://carlostedeschi.bandcamp.com/album/la-malta-bastarda-credimi
    this is from the same lineup (2014)
    https://carlostedeschi.bandcamp.com/album/la-malta-bastarda-un-pezzo-pop
    and this is the group as it is now
    Greetings,
    Carlo (La Malta Bastarda)

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