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(60:01, Mellow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Holocaustica 2:31 2. Chimaira 6:20 3. Moonsoon 6:14 4. Brain Melody 6:49 5. The Dance of the Drastic Navels-1 14:24 6. Disorganicorigami 2:59 7. A Saucerful of Secrets 11:33 8. Children of Our Dreams 2:25 9. Var Glad Var Dag 6:38 (bon t-k) LINEUP: Alfio Costa – keyboards Davide Guidoni – ac. & electronic drums With: Alessandro Papotto – saxophones, clarinet, oboe (4, 5, 6, 9) Vincenzo Zitello – viola, cello; clarinets, flute (8) Riccardo Paltanin – el. violin (3) Cristiano Roversi – Stick (2) Fabio Zuffanti – bass (7) Flavio Costa – guitar (2) Cristina Vinci – vocals (7) Laura Mombrini – vocals (7)
Prolusion. DAAL is a project by two experienced Italian musicians, drummer Davide Guidoni (Taproban, The Far Side, Gallant Farm, Nuova Era, Ozone Player) and keyboardist Alfio Costa (Tilion, Prowlers, Colossus Project, Dark Session). The project’s name comes from the first two letters of each musician’s name (DAvide and ALfio). Guidoni and Costa first met when their respective bands, Taproban and Tilion, contributed to the Musea/Colossus project “The Spaghetti Epic”. Other artists from the thriving Italian prog scene are guesting on the album, such as Cristiano Roversi (Moongarden), Fabio Zuffanti (Finisterre and La Maschera di Cera, among many others) and Alessandro Papotto (Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, Samadhi, Periferia Del Mondo)
Analysis. Though a project by two Italian progressive rock artists, Daal’s debut album is one of those efforts that seem to have very little connection with what is generally seen as the ‘Italian prog sound’. Indeed, “Disorganicorigami” (a nice tongue-twister of a title) is a mostly electronic-based disc that might have been produced in any other country in the world – perhaps more ‘international’ in sound, but by and large devoid of those characteristics which make Italian prog such a fascinating subset of our favourite genre. The warmth and expressiveness that have attracted legions of followers (even from very distant parts of the world such as Japan) to Italian prog, and Italian music in general, are somewhat lacking in this impeccably executed, but ultimately rather impersonal project. To be fair, “Disorganicorigami” does have its moments, and some parts of it are really good, though perhaps not extremely original. Davide Guidoni uses both Mandala drums and a conventional drum kit, which lends the album a remarkably organic sound; while Alfio Costa plays an impressive array of synthesisers, whose ‘whistling’ effects may occasionally come across as jarring. The best tracks, in my view, are those where the presence of guest musicians boosts the overall sound, lending a feeling of fullness to the compositions. A particularly welcome contribution comes from Banco’s Alessandro Papotto on saxes and woodwind, whose warm, expressive sound greatly enhances the four tracks where he appears. “Disorganicorigami” opens in a somewhat disturbing way, with a piercing police siren introducing the jagged electronica of Holocaustica, propelled by cybernetic synths and frantic drum volleys. With Chimaira we enter Pink Floyd-meets-progressive metal territory – slashing guitar riffs (courtesy of Alfio Costa’s brother and Tilion bandmate, Flavio) and high-powered drums overlaid by layers of keyboards that create a sort of claustrophobic texture. As the title suggests, Moonsoon – definitely one of the most interesting numbers here – displays ethnic influences in the hypnotic percussion pattern and Middle Eastern violin tune sparring with swirling synths, while Brain Melody is a slow, measured effort infused by the warmth of Papotto’s Turkish sax, as well as Costa’s grand piano and mellotron. With its intriguingly absurdist title, The Dance of the Drastic Navels is a four-part epic in which the different movements are actually recognizable: eerie, faintly disturbing Pink Floyd-like atmospheres with bubbling synth sounds and tinkling glockenspiel blend with dissonant, sax-driven RIO / Avant-garde suggestions and Emersonian keyboard flurries. Since the album was meant as a tribute to the late, great Richard Wright, it is not surprising to find a cover of the iconic A Saucerful of Secrets, the title-track of Pink Floyd’s second album whose definitive version is captured on the “Live in Pompeii” DVD. As covers go, this one is rather faithful to the original, though lacking its mesmerizing power. Though the piano parts are excellent, I am not too keen on the wailing tone of the two female vocalists, who end up sounding annoying rather than intriguing. The other cover, included as a bonus track (it was originally featured on the Colossus/Musea 3-CD set “Rokstenen”), is a rather obscure track by Seventies Swedish band Ragnarok, which – frankly speaking – does not really add anything to the album, overshadowing the short but sweet Children of Our Dreams – a melancholy, autumnal piano-driven piece, enhanced by the participation of Celtic multi-instrumentalist Vincenzo Zitello on cello, viola and woodwinds, which would have made a much more appropriate closer for the disc. Packaged with great care in a lavish booklet complete with exhaustive notes and sleekly futuristic artwork, “Disorganicorigami” is a rather interesting experiment on the part of two Italian musicians known for more conventional ventures. In spite of its somewhat uneven quality, it does offer enough interesting moments to appeal to fans of instrumental music, especially if keyboard-based – not to mention top-notch performances from everyone involved.
Conclusion. Even if not easy to pinpoint musically, “Disorganicorigami” is a formally impeccable, though somewhat one-dimensional example of instrumental prog based mainly on electronic keyboards and percussion. While it occasionally sounds a tad sterile and detached, fans of electronic and spacey prog in particular may find it a worthwhile listening experience.
RB=Raffaella Berry: September 22, 2010
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