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(53:20, Erosha/Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Akisum 4:35 2. Annientamento Primaverile 8:11 3. L’Idee 7:11 4. Malam 3:09 5. Lucie 5:02 6. My Favorite Things 2:46 7. Blau 2:11 8. Among Them 4:24 9. Bagno di Notte 3:56 10. Frik 4:49 11. Philo Sophia 4:44 12. Lucie e l’Amore 2:17 LINEUP: Giovanni Urso – trombone, horn; guitar; fortepiano; violin Marco Venturi – fortepiano, toy piano; violin Matteo Gabutti – saxophones; voices Diego Devincenz – contrabass, bass Mario Mantignoni – drums With: Antonella Bertini – vocals (1, 4, 9)
Prolusion. “Dodici” is my first encounter with COMPAGNIA D’ARTE DRUMMATICA, an Italian quintet from the Lizard Records roster. Besides those I’ve listed in the lineup above, each of the musicians plays some percussion instruments, hence the band’s name, most likely.
Analysis. Indeed, there are plenty of percussion instruments on this outing, of which the metal (metallophones, glockenspiels, cymbals) and mallet (drums, congas) ones are deployed more frequently than, well, what is difficult to me to regard otherwise than as rattles (maracas-shakers and so on). The twenty tracks presented, while ranging as much in length as from two minutes to eight, seem to be vary even more in style, mood and atmosphere. Nevertheless, since it’s instantly obvious that some of those are created impromptu, unlike the others, I think the disc’s contents can be divided into two categories, at least for a start. My Favorite Things, L’Idee, Philo Sophia and Malam all combine kind of frozen solos of a textural quality with real, yet totally unvectored qualities, and therefore it doesn’t seem to be too significant that the first of these is made up exclusively of percussion sounds, whilst the other three involve several instruments, the latter additionally revealing some female vocalizations. Since all the other tracks develop with a strong sense of purpose, at least for the most part, it’s not too clear to me what’s behind the band’s decision to ‘create’ on the spur of the moment – perhaps to show their performance versatility. Either way, I’m personally not into sound design or abstract music either. Of the eight composed pieces, Akisum, Bagno di Notte and Blau come across as being rather primitive – partly because these are much less sonically saturated than the others, particularly the first two, only featuring metallophone and piano as their instrumental parts, respectively, though on the other hand both are marked by female vocals which are in all senses full-fledged. Covering almost a half of the recording, the remaining five tracks, Annientamento Primaverile, Among Them, Frik, Lucie and Lucie e l’Amore, all differ one from another in some compositional as well as performance aspects, but have quite a good deal in common between them as well and so can be viewed en masse. Featuring all the instruments that are listed above, each of these is a true ensemble effort: the music is multi-layered, often developing with a solid driving force. What makes me enjoy this stuff most of all, though, is the band’s ability to bring together such contrasting stylings as Classical and Minimalist music, symphonic Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion, as well as – seemingly incongruously – free and smooth Jazz.
Conclusion. First of all it needs to be mentioned here that, save the drums, the percussion instruments are relatively simple throughout the album – particularly so on the five winning pieces, which are instead full of charming brass and chamber arrangements, thus showing where the main strength of this specifically named band lies. Furthermore, on each of those the musicians really succeed in keeping things cohesive and interesting alike. If they would focus on this particular side of their work in the future their next release will appeal to a noticeably larger group of listeners than this one.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: October 1, 2009
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