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(35:15, Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Road 32:45 2. Reading McCarthy 2:30 LINEUP: Marco Lamberti – contrabass; guitars; fortepiano Giovanni Rossi – guitar; harmonium Paolo Bergese – drums With: Mansueta Cinzia Mureddu – violoncello Stefano Giaccone – saxophone; narration
Prolusion. AIRPORTMAN is an Italian band that issued their first album back in 2002. Since then they have several more releases to their name. "The Road" from 2010 is their ninth production overall, and was issued by the Italian label Lizard Records.
Analysis. Airportman is an ensemble that isn't too frivolous with the amount of information they provide. As with their 2008 production "Letters", we're not provided with any information as to which musician handles what instruments for instance, nor what instruments have been used for the recording of this album other than those played by the guest musicians. They describe their style as acoustic, however, and with what would appear to be a few subtle exceptions that seem to be a fitting general description. Words like folk and psychedelic may or may not be appended to that, chamber music might also apply partially. As far as cornering this outfit inside of a genre box of some kind, that is a game I won't try to play to perfection; those with an interest in such matters should have a field day trying to classify this material though. "The Road" is a concept album, inspired by the novel of the same name written by US author Corman McCarthy. A highly acclaimed book that has made a grand impression on many, and when it was embraced by US talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey it became something of a household item due to the massive commercial impact that followed as a direct result, which is a rather strange position for what is basically a bleak, harrowing, post-apocalyptic science fiction story starring a man and his son, numerous dangers up to and including cannibals, the latter of which aren't overly concerned about their prey being alive or not. The second track of this disc provides us with a small insight into this book, where a selected part is read out loud accompanied by simple but effective sound effects, a glockenspiel and watery electronic or sampled sounds. A good manner in which to start listening to this production, I might add, as it sets the tone quite nicely for the opening track, a massive 30 minutes plus epic – massive in length that is, not in expression. The song itself consists of several fragile, slow-moving acoustic guitar motifs as the common denominators, sometimes flowing along easily, sometimes stumbling, sometimes fragmenting, and on the verge of total silence. But always coming back, always moving onwards, even if decaying or taking a misstep. Accompanying the guitar we find a brooding motif that, I surmise, has been provided by an electronic instrument of some variety or other. Rarely dominating and at times disappearing for a time, but mostly present in a subtle, dampened expression. Fragmented instrumental details courtesy of the saxophone, violin and cello, one or both of the latter two most likely the credited violoncello, appear at the onset. And these instruments ebb and flow as the song moves ever onwards, supplying textures of desolation, bleakness and unreality, yet also warmth, hope and despair. Only towards the end do we get anything that can be described as dramatic, the last couple of minutes sporting a more intense and emotionally laden atmosphere courtesy of the arrangements and instrumental performances – an ending that does make an impact, and might be regarded as a statement of some sort.
Conclusion. From gentle folk-oriented themes to fragmented and disturbing parts with a strong psychedelic flavor and occasional richer arrangements that have the strings dominating in more of a chamber music-inspired setting, this elongated musical journey would appear to be something of a perfect musical companion to the book that inspired it: low-key, warm, human, filled with love and passion in a gentle manner, yet also encompassing elements conveying fear, sadness, desperation, horror and tragedy. A gentle musical cocktail that won't have a mass appeal, but which should make quite an impact on the right listener, by preference someone who has read the novel I presume.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: June 9, 2011
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