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(40:21, AltrOck Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Sleep Talking 3:12 2. Beating a Dead Horse 4:06 3. Monday Morning Motivation 3:07 4. Dead End 3:57 5. Oompa Loompa 5:16 6. What’s Wrong with Salamanders 5:28 7. 30/03/03 1:55 8. Active Life 3:22 9. My Plastic Jaw 2:50 10. Radiations 3:10 11. Aus Tokio 3:53 LINEUP: Paolo D’Alonzo – vocals; el. & ac. guitars; synthesizer Giacomo Di Paolo – basses; vibraphones; keyboards Emilio Trevisani – drums, percussion; el. piano With: Gregorio Salce – el. guitar; electronics (5, 6, 9) Gianfrancesco Falbo – violins (2, 7, 11) Tommaso Tesini – cellos (7, 11) Francesco Zago – Mellotron (8) Carlo Di Paolo – bassoon (7) Elena Veronesi – clarinets (7) Alessandro Scagliarini – trumpets (6)
Prolusion. Made up of eleven tracks, the 40-minute “Sleep Talking” is the first release by CHANCE RISIKO, a trio from Italy. The CD was issued by their fellow Italian recording company AltrOck Records – a home label for local as well as foreign artists whose creative credo is widely recognized as Chamber Rock.
Analysis. Although out of the seven session musicians, who are also involved in the project, six play the instruments whose connection with the above idiom is more than just obvious, the sound here is based predominantly on both electric and acoustic guitars, and is focused on melody first and foremost. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t say the style the band has chosen for its debut effort is instantly definable, let alone trivial. Only as a whole can it be labeled as modern-day mainstream Art-Rock, so, please, go on reading to learn details. The music as such most often suggests sophisticated ballads somewhere in the vein of late ‘90s Porcupine Tree. What occurs on the album’s vocal angle is, to my ears, as follows. When singing, guitarist Paolo D’Alonzo delivers smoky melodic roulades that many will find reminiscent of those in Radiohead (so this band shouldn’t be ignored as a reference point, either). On the other hand, none of the songs are vocal-heavy, and the instrumental arrangements, although instantly accessible, without any fireworks, are never boring or trite either. Besides, the trio’s instrumentation includes two vibraphones, the frequent use of which imparts quite a lot of originality as well as variety to the music, now pushing it into a somewhat different dimension, now generally giving it an atypical character – at least as applied to what is above designated as the recording’s basic style. In other words, quasi avant-garde and fusionesque elements are also detectable, and if the former instantly refer me back to ‘80s King Crimson, the latter arouse at once indistinct and somewhat strange associations (with Gong for instance). What has been said is by and large relevant to nine of the pieces available. All of those are basically slow-paced, and since the playing is keyed towards gentler moves to a much higher extent than towards more intense ones, well, only the evenly-numbered tracks (see above if you wish) reveal dense, mainly riff-driven arrangements here and there; while 30/03/03, the title-track, Aus Tokio and Monday Morning Motivation are texturally rather transparent throughout. Regarding the last of these, think a soft rhythm backing and soloing almost everywhere, as the drums only appear as the piece’s curtain falls. What’s Wrong with Salamanders is the richest in jazzy features. Active Life stands out for its bright symphonic colorations. A few of the tunes have some classical sense in addition, 30/03/03 (the one that the chamber musicians have most notably contributed to) – all over its second half, where the violin, cello, clarinet and bassoon get rid of the rock backbone of the trio itself and start on their free flight. The sole track in the set that has up-tempo moves, Oompa Loompa, is certainly the most diverse one. At times almost sounding like King Crimson circa “Discipline”, it’s a finely crafted composition and will satisfy many lovers of avant-tinged Art-Rock. Finally, My Plastic Jaw is filler, as it contains nothing but slow synthesizer drones.
Conclusion. The label’s first release not to belong to Chamber Prog, at least overall, Chance Risiko’s “Sleep Talking” appears to be a black sheep in their herd, er, roster, and yet the band itself doesn’t come across as a freeloader (passenger in a Russian slang) there. Although the album doesn’t blow me away, I nevertheless find it to be pretty listenable, because – save My Plastic Jaw – each of its components-tracks is elaborated and marked with taste and elegance.
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