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(47 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Bad Boy H 5:08 2. Bulbo 5:32 3. Rapsodia 7:01 4. Joungle Box 6:01 5. Blu Superficiale 2:56 6. Immersion 2:42 7. Tangram 6:42 8. Spinning Like A Top 10:54 LINEUP: David Accaino - keyboards Enrico De Stalis - guitars Erico Rainis - bass Elvis Fior - drums With: Mirko Cisilino - trumpet Maurizio Cepparo - trombone Nevio Zaninotto - saxophone Arianna Commons - cello
Prolusion. "Spinning Like a Top" is the second album by Italian outfit ADIB, previously known as Assolo Di Bongo. Sure, Adib is just an abbreviation of the original name. Please, readers, draw your attention to the 'cast' above before reading the review.
Analysis. If I set my mind on providing you with allusions, I can make comparisons to many bands while examining this recording from track to track. Then in the case of the three featuring a brass section, namely Bad Boy H, Joungle Box and the title track, these would be Soft Machine, Mothers Of Invention, National Health, Pink Floyd and ELP. Some traces of Deus Ex Machina and mid-'70s King Crimson can be caught on Bulbo which is the sole piece here with a cellist's participation. The echoes of the same National Health can be heard on Rapsodia, those of Van Der Graaf Generator on Tangram, whilst Blu Superficiale and Immersion are both a bit reminiscent of Djam Karet. However, all these similarities are very transitory, dissolving like a morning mist in the air shortly after they appear. So it won't be an exaggeration to say that Adib is a group who do not have the desire to follow any traditions that have ever been formed within the Prog Rock genre. In all, their "Spinning Like a Top" is a strikingly unique album, full of innovative ideas. Although most of this music lies far outside the realm of Symphonic Progressive, each of the eight instrumentals is thoroughly composed and scrupulously executed. In spite of a large amount of complex stop-to-play movements, odd meters, contrasting themes and the other, say, singularly-angular features available, the music always retains its inner coherence and is instantly attractive, grasping the experienced listener's attention already upon the first spin. Structurally however, it's too polymorphous to squeeze it into the framework of any known progressive genre, so I won't dare to formulate any generalized definition of it. Instead, I'd better name its most notable genre components when listing the tracks - well, again, plus in the same order as above. Bad Boy H, Joungle Box and Spinning Like a Top, each has structures referring to Jazz-Fusion, Art-Rock and RIO (listed in the line of descent according to their amount), and although it would be unjustified to mention Prog-Metal in this particular case, some of the soloing battles develop over cleverly 'chugging' guitar riffs. All the musicians play different intricate parts, each part being just as evocative individually as they are together, the band effortlessly slipping from intense over-the-top arrangements to relatively atmospheric ones and back to intricate, hard-edged maneuvers again. The epic title track moves through a tremendous number of different sections and can be considered one of the centerpieces of the album - along with Bulbo. (Nevertheless, most of the other compositions are exceptionally interesting too, some being nearly in every respect on a par with these). If briefly, that very Bulbo is a cross between Metal-In-Opposition and Symphonic Progressive, but is in fact an astonishingly complex, many-sided music that twists and turns throughout - just integrated into one ever-changing pleasure:-). The two involving acoustic guitar solos, Tangram and Rapsodia, are also masterpieces. However these are not kindred works, since the former evokes almost exclusively vintage symphonic Art-Rock, whilst the latter reveals more features of heavy and quasi-improvisational progressive music than those typical of the said genre. Unlike any of the described compositions, neither of the shortest two, Blu Superficiale and Immersion, goes through numerous sections, but then the group's ability to accelerate and slacken their pace is even more distinct here. Each blends together Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion into one moving substance that one might easily want to call Canterbury, but not I.
Conclusion. Compared to a lot of Neo and related things I have reviewed for this and the previous update, "Spinning Like a Top" is like a gulp of clear mountain air after a long period of breathing urban smog. Sadly, there are little such stalwarts of uncompromising progressive music as Adib nowadays in Europe - unlike on the other side of the Atlantic. For sure, this disc is a welcome addition to my Top-20-2006.
VM: January 6, 2007
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