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(40:33, Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Caleidoscopio 4:35 2. Nodi 5:47 3. Camaleonte 3:59 4. Tartaruga 3:12 5. Dove Sei 2:57 6. Insalata Numero 6 5:00 7. Non Mi Ricordo 4:17 8. Cosimo Post-Moderno 3:19 9. Signor Psiche 4:02 10. Tokio 3:25 LINEUP: Pietro Beltrami – keyboards Pina Muresu – saxophone Fabrizio Lusitani – guitars Michele Tizzoni – drums Paolo Nicastro – bass, vocals Claudia Nicastro – vocals, glockenspiel
Prolusion. The Italian act FLORA was formed back in 1998, self-releasing their first three albums before gaining the interest of their current label Lizard Records. "6" or "Sei", if you like, is their sixth studio album, released in 2012.
Analysis. Flora is one of those bands whose choice of style is very much their own. They don't explore any unusual style of music as such, it would be hard to describe the music they explore as challenging in the true sense of the word, but at the end of the day it is also hard to pinpoint their particular brand of music into any clearly defined genre definition. The core of many of their songs is a firm bass and drums foundation, the bass often driving the song in a subtle, careful manner, the drums used in a number of different manners from firm and intense to loose and subtle, and at times with a more expressive touch as well, but without ever becoming flamboyant. The drums also share duties with the guitar, piano and saxophone in adding a jazzy touch to the proceedings. The guitars tend to navigate between a number of expressions on this disc. Firm, funk-tinged guitar licks rest easily side by side with loose, tranquil resonating deliveries, sharing a funk-tinged sound, but delicate plucked guitar details of a less dined nature have their place here, as well as occasional, firmer and harder edged guitar riffs, more often than not combining two or more of these modes of expressions within each composition. The piano is arguably the one instrument that mainly sticks to a jazz-inspired or oriented expression throughout, mainly by loose, almost improvisational sounding wandering patterns, adding a subtle and careful touch to the proceedings. The saxophone, when present, also tends to stick to an expression that will most likely sound more familiar to those fond of jazz and jazz rock than to those encountering this instrument in other settings. The saxophone details are subtle, melancholic and tranquil rather than dramatic and expressive though, so jazz aficionados with a taste for the saxophone used in a more adventurous manner should look elsewhere. Finally, we're treated to high-quality vocals courtesy of Claudia Nicastro and Paolo Nicastro, the former of them the main vocalist, but the latter almost as an active a contributor, mainly combining his talents with Claudia's in compelling dual vocal arrangements. The end result is an album with brief, tight compositions that tend to ebb and flow between a firm compact arrangement and a looser, more opened up one that is sparse and rich at the same time, with occasional tranquil interludes. In terms of style there's just about always some sort of jazz-oriented element at hand, but used and explored within a context arguably closer to mainstream pop rock than to progressive rock as such. One might describe this style as pop art rather than art rock, or perhaps a pop-tinged breed of art rock. It is well made material, no matter how you describe it though, and an album that does defy the art of specific genre classification quite nicely.
Conclusion. Tight, firm compositions that combine elements from mainstream rock and art rock with a subtly liberal coating of jazz-tinged details may be a description of the contents of Flora's 2012 album "Sei". Compelling material, easy on the ears and the mind both without ever coming across as superficial in nature. A production that merits a check by those with a general taste for artists who create material blending aspects of progressive rock with more of a mainstream sounding one, and in particular if you have a soft spot for subtle jazz references in endeavors of this kind.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: Jan 22, 2014
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