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(52:43, Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Consumatore di Sonno 15:06 2. La Fine del Ca de Luzi 1:01 3. Il Gesulta Millantatore 10:51 4. Filastrocca All’oracolo 3: 38 5. La Saga Degli Immaginari 8:31 6. Beatamente Plagiati 3:05 7. Ommagio al Dottor Zoidberg 3:13 8. Drazil 4:58 9. Situazione Angolare 2:08 LINEUP: Danilo Orlandini – keyboards; kazoo Giovanni Breccia – saxophones Laura Agostinelli – vocals Riccardo Soleni – bass Diego Vitaioli – drums, percussion With: Cristiano Giuseppetti – cello
Prolusion. “Quantaltro” is the debut release by Italian outfit GARAMOND, which has been in existence since 2000.
Analysis. It took five years for the band to record “Quantaltro”, but it really has been worth the wait, to put it simply and unpretentiously. The nine tracks here range from one to fifteen minutes, varying in style also, but there is not a single weak spot on this recording. Even the short cuts, Beatamente Plagiati (instrumental electronic music) and Situazione Angolare (a piece for fortepiano and vocals), are fine compositions and, despite contrasting strongly with the rest of the material, are both eclectic and unique enough to bring joy even to fastidious music lovers, especially in the context of the entire album, which is simply mind-blowing and seems to be just covered with signs of originality, throughout. Please, dear readers, take this remark into consideration so as not to take too seriously most or even any of the reference points you’ll find here. Classic Art-Rock and RIO in their pure form, RIO by means of Symphonic Progressive and vice versa, Classical music by means of both Art- and Chamber Rock, plus some quantity of jazzy, folksy and operatic elements, all delivered in one bag: such a marvelous, yet always perfectly balanced stylistic alloy is the essence of this effort, especially brightly reflected on the longest tracks, Consumatore di Sonno and Il Gesulta Millantatore, and also on Filastrocca All’oracolo. These three pass through a wide variety of changes, and so they very frequently shift their outward appearances (like chameleons in a way), on all levels. The slow-paced moves, at times with only piano, vocals and cello in the play, suddenly transform into a maelstrom of organ, saxophone, cello, bass and drums, which later takes on a more or less smooth shape, but only so as to take breath before blowing up again as another musical storm, without revisiting any previously trodden path. What impresses me in particular is the band’s masterful use of dynamic range, which further accentuates the transitions. While listening to these, many may hear echoes of Van Der Graaf Generator, Univers Zero or even Henry Cow, but there is no darkness in this music nor are there free-jazz improvisations or any avant-garde over-eclecticism either. Personally I see it as a cross between classic Kansas, U Totem (though in terms of complexity, Univers Zero would be a better reference point here) and Art Zoyd, the influence of the former band being quite clear, becoming obvious in quite a few of the violin- and organ-driven art-rock moves. Laura Agostinelli sings in a highly original way, demonstrating the fantastically wide range of her voice as well as her excellent command of several vocal styles, the operatic one included. But when she joins the players at their most intense and eclectic, she can sometimes scream almost as hysterically as Absolute Zero’s Aislin Quinn or Dagmar Krause, of Slapp Happy, Henry Cow and Art Bears fame. La Saga Degli Immaginari and Drazil both portray overall the same amazing stylistic cocktail and could’ve been listed along with the three previously viewed compositions. However, the amount of turbulent arrangements is noticeably lesser on these, though their calmer musical waters are only seemingly still, running deep in fact, those depths being often hidden behind Laura’s singing (as well as screaming and whispering), which here takes on its most bizarre shapes in places. The remaining two tracks, La Fine del Ca de Luzi and Ommagio al Dottor Zoidberg, are both instrumentals, each depicting the band’s two main passions just as they are: Symphonic Progressive and Rock-In-Opposition of the first water respectively.
Conclusion. “Quantaltro” is a heavenly, gripping recording, striking for its musical complexity and technical perfection alike. All the project’s participants appear to be highly masterful musicians with the thorough knowledge of their chosen fields that’s normally only within the reach of those who have the experience of many years behind them. I very highly recommend this disc to advanced listeners and hope it will be noticed by all the right people.
VM: April 16, 2008
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