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(42 min, Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Part-1 2:28 2. Part-2 4:08 3. Part-3 1:38 4. Part-4 4:15 5. Part-5 5:17 6. Part-6 4:09 7. Part-7 4:39 8. Part-8 3:47 9. Part-9 4:11 10. Part-10 4:19 11. Part-11 3:00 PERSONNEL: Marco Lamberti - guitar, bass; grand piano, keyboards Giovanni Risso - guitar; harmonium, synthesizers Paolo Bergese - glockenspiel, percussion Marco Olivo - drums With: Stefano Giaccone - sax
Prolusion. This last year, Italian group AIRPORTMAN celebrated their entry into the community of musicians having any official CD releases. In other words, "Off" is their first album - hopefully not their last. According to the statistics, so-called one-shots amount nearly 60 percent of the 2000's progressive rock scene.
Analysis. As far as I can figure out from the CD track list, Airportman presents their first brainchild as an eponymous eleven-part suite and, therefore, as a concept creation. Well, let it be so, although I don't think the band have properly accomplished their initial design. The originality of their music is beyond question, but most of the disc's eleven instrumentals, while being not without tunefulness, leave the impression of being somewhat excursive in their development. Above all this remark concerns the tunes whose instrumentation includes only two electric guitars and percussion, namely Parts 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 12. Although the music is slow throughout (as is everywhere on the recording though), each at times sounds as if the players are groping their way, having no very clear idea of the point of their destination. By the way, it is really hard to classify the said pieces in terms of style. I only can tell you that such concepts as experimentalism and primitivism are equally applicable to these. Maybe, still, Ambient? Parts 3 and 10 are each built around passages of acoustic guitar, and since these are executed in a classical manner, the parts of the other instruments involved (electric guitar, percussion and synthesizer), while rather directionless in execution, don't affect the tunes' overall cohesiveness too strongly. The three cuts marked with the participation of guest saxophonist Stefano Giaccone, Parts 1, 6 and 9, are the richest in sound, being generally the most compositionally concordant and, at the same time, most interesting tracks on the album, though anyway, even these are far from being perfect, in my humble opinion. The interactions between sax, harmonium, piano and bass remind me of Minimalist music which, yet, appears to be somewhat underdeveloped, as there are no multi-layered patterns typical of that genre.
Conclusion. I can appreciate the originality of Airportman's music. I understand that the group doesn't think in terms of commercial success. But I am also fully aware that their debut effort is not destined to fit any categories appreciated by those into genuinely progressive music. Besides, I don't find their "Off" (the disc's title is unlikely to mean anything other than "Beginning") to be particularly convincing in terms of songwriting or performance alike.
VM: March 2, 2007
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