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(51:23, Agla Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Malleus Maleficarum 10:17 2. Elektra 7:41 3. Lilith 4:15 4. The Dance of the Drastic Navels 23:50 5. Inside You 5:20 LINEUP: Alfio Costa – keyboards, electronics Davide Guidoni – drums, percussion; electronics With: Letizia Riccardi – violin Ettore Salati – guitars Bobo Aiolfi – basses Tirill Monh – vocals Gugliermo Mariotti – voice
Prolusion. The Italian project DAAL was formed in 2008 by Davide Guidoni (drums) and Alfio Costa (keyboards), with the latter the main creative force of this venture. In addition to contributing to various project albums they have also been actively recording and releasing studio albums ever since their debut album "Disorganicorigami" appeared in 2009, with five full-length studio recordings to their name so far. "Dances of the Drastic Navels", the most recent of these, was released by the Italian label Agla Records at the end of 2014.
Analysis. This is the third studio album by this Italian duo I have taken on, and if anything the CD rather confirms the notion I have of this being a rather eclectic creative partnership. This is an album that doesn't appear to readily appeal to any predefined audience, and the music created and landscapes explored do shy away from the expected more often than not. Most certainly progressive rock, and a fairly challenging variety of that too, at least as far as scope and approach are concerned, yet also shying away from the more avant-garde oriented territories. If there is one common denominator that runs through this production, then it is that it's a rather dark one. Melancholic, haunting and ominous moods alternate throughout the album, and all in all, it is an often bleak experience. We do get a dramatic opener in Malleus Maleficarum, and one that alternates between symphonic-oriented and more atmospheric landscapes at that, but also a creation with more of an ominous undercurrent to it than anything else. As the album develops, we're also treated to floating, otherworldly guitar escapades of the kind that invokes associations to the likes of Robert Fripp and arguably Trey Gunn as well, the ongoing use of electronic effects and atmospheric dampened passages perhaps the additional feature that makes the latter more than the former an association others might easily recognize. On the massive title track the canvas is further expanded with movements closer to the likes of late ‘70s Pink Floyd as well, albeit in this case a much darker take on that particular sound, but also with room for an elongated twisted purebred electronic excursion in a Tangerine Dream manner, as well as a dramatic, majestic and dark take on the symphonic progressive rock variety. This in between and alternating with sequences of a more delicate and atmospheric general nature, more often than not with unnerving electronic sounds as ongoing features in those passages. To conclude the CD, Daal opts to go for something completely different though: Inside You, a mid-length ballad featuring ongoing piano, mournful female lead vocals and occasional recurring violin sequences, and a distinctly jazz-tinged bass-line as another on and off details. Ebbing and flowing in intensity, and again with room for passages of a more atmospheric nature.
Conclusion. "Dances of the Drastic Navels" is an album that has its foundation in a hard to define variety of progressive rock, featuring plenty of careful electronic flavoring and occasional visits into a more purebred variety of electronic progressive music, an eclectic blend of styles and approaches, where the main recurring element is that the music tends to stay on the dark side of things as far as moods and atmospheres are concerned. I'd suggest that those who find Trey Gunn's various excursions to be of general interest might want to have a go at this one as well, and otherwise, those who enjoy King Crimson just as much as Tangerine Dream might perhaps also be a crowd that will find this production intriguing.
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