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(47:01, Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Awakening 3:52 2. Reflecting 3:32 3. No Care 3:57 4. Heavy Keys 3:27 5. Journey 3:34 6. Don’t Look for Me 3:10 7. Belonging 2:55 8. Eve 3:45 9. October 5:00 10. Don’t Know Why 2:38 11. Don’t be Amazed 11:09 LINEUP: Marco Lamberti – contrabass; guitars; fortepiano Giovanni Rossi – guitar; harmonium Paulo Bergeze – percussion Marco Oliva – drums With: Rosanna Johnson – vocals
Prolusion. AIRPORTMAN is a studio project from Italy. The same four musicians, who recorded “Off” (2006), have now come up with “Rainy Days”, their sophomore release.
Analysis. Figuratively speaking, it is the first two musicians from the lineup above, Marco Lamberti and Giovanni Rossi, who carry most of the weight of this recording on their shoulders. Paulo Bergeze and Marco Oliva are each only featured on six of the disc’s eleven tracks, at most, which I’m sure about because none of the other five pieces contain percussion instruments, besides which drums are quite rarely deployed overall – unlike the tambourine, cymbals and chimes. Next, it’s the turn of Rosanna Johnson, who is heralded as a guest singer. In fact I don’t hear her vocals anywhere on the disc, unless she possesses a pronouncedly masculine voice, a feature of Don’t Know Why – the sole ‘song’ here, with only a distich as lyrics, just repeated a few times. Okay, most of the pieces reveal in places a female speech that’s usually not unlike the one reporting about departures and arrivals in airports, but I wouldn’t believe the band invited a singer so as to later process her voice and make it sound semi-robotic, instead of using a prepared recording. Save for the disc’s opener Awakening (an ambient piece involving a drum machine), the music everywhere represents a combination of acoustic and electric textures, contrary to the project’s first effort, and is completely coherent, usually being dominated by acoustic instruments. Nevertheless, while one of the main aspects of Airportman’s previous work (namely, well, a kind of experimentalism) seems to have lost its validity now, the other, minimalism (not to be confused with classic Minimalist music with its multi-layered sonic constructions), remains and dominates. I don’t find any necessity to detail each of the remaining tracks, as all of them are quite similar in both style and sound: invariably slow-paced tunes, laid back and contemplative, basically either bi- or tri-thematic. The acoustic guitar (played mostly finger-style) generates a primary melodic line that is ornamented with the electric guitar’s (still fairly simple, always fluid) solos, plus there’s usually harmonium which, although serving mainly as a chordal instrument, exerts some sense of drama into the pieces, thus somewhat variegating their emotional background. The contrabass and piano only appear on four tracks, and only briefly on those. Already the title of the concluding piece, Don’t be Amazed, sounds like a warning, and there is a pitfall indeed. This is quite a long track, but its mid-section, lasting for no less than 5 minutes, offers the listener to lend an ear to a silent, monotonously humming synthesizer effect.
Conclusion. Compared to its predecessor, “Rainy Days” is overall a much more cohesive recording, but is at the same time plainer and therefore much more predictable as well. Despite its quasi-acoustic architecture, the album has a certain cinematic sense, generally coming across like the soundtrack for a documentary film, perhaps with drawings of nature. If the group’s aim was to make unobtrusive background music, then this effort is definitely a success.
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