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Garden Wall - 2011 - "Assurdo"

(67:36, Lizard Records)


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TRACK LIST:

1.  Iperbole 6:21
2.  Butterfly Song 8:31
3.  Trasfiguratofunky 7:31
4.  Negative 7:03
5.  Just Cannot Forget 2:25
6.  Flash 5:23
7.  Clamores Horrendos Ad Sidera Tollit 6:49
8.  Vacuum Fluctuation 8:04
9.  Re-Awakening 8:03
10. Isterectomia 7.26

LINEUP:

Alessandro Seravalle  vocals; guitars; keyboards, electronics
Raffaello Indri  guitars 
William Toson  bass 
Ivan Moni Bidin  drums 
Gianpietro Seravalle  el. percussion
With:
Pietro Sponton  congas, vibraphone
Massimo De Mattia  flute 
Davide Casali  clarinet 
Mariano Bulligan  cello 
Simone D'Eusanio  violin 
Alessandro Bertoni  piano 
Flavia Quass  vocals 
&:
A few additional musicians

Prolusion. The Italian band GARDEN WALL was formed by Alessandro Seravalle towards the end of the 80's, and after a stable line-up had settled, released their first demo tape in 1992. Since then 8 full-length productions have seen the light of day. "Assurdo" from 2011 is the most recent of these, and is also the first of their albums to be issued through the Italian label Lizard Records.

Analysis. When researching this Italian band, I noticed that many classify them as a progressive metal band. A style and expression that to most will bring to mind a certain sound and approach, and associations towards bands like Dream Theater and Sieges Even tend to be fairly common. For those unfamiliar with the past productions of Garden Wall and who would like to explore their material, one should note that this is a band that operates well outside of those borders. And in the case of this particular production, they venture rather far outside of common metal boundaries as well. What we're dealing with here is a band that defies a true genre placement. Electronica, art rock and progressive metal are all part of the proceedings, with a fair amount of jazz-fusion thrown in for good measure too. If you rely on comparisons towards other artists more or less well known to get a feel whether or not to explore an artist you're out of luck in this case too, as this band explores a universe very much of their own making. In terms of approach the closest I can get is another Italian band, Nichelodeon. But a few details aside these similarities are in approach only, as style, sound and expression all are different, most times radically so. The compositions are all challenging and sophisticated in both structure and arrangements. The common denominator throughout is a dark, brooding atmosphere, which I reckon will be appreciated by metal fans that choose to explore this production, and a versatile approach to the use of voices and vocals: aggressive shouted vocals, hoarse dark whispers, theatrical and possibly non-verbal sounds. In short, a liberal amount of what I'd describe as vocal acrobatics. Performed with a high degree of perfection throughout I might add. The instrumental backing is as versatile as the vocals. All pieces feature multiple themes and motifs, twisting and turning in quirky sequences where careful subtle developments are just as common as dramatic, sudden shifts in arrangements, style and expression. Sparsely constructed themes with electronically enhanced rhythm backdrops are just as common as aggressive riff barrages, noisescapes and eerie, swirling jazz-tinged escapades sit comfortably side by side with melancholic passages dominated by strings and acoustic guitars, harmonic and beautiful sequences in tight interaction with atonal and free form inspired movements. Giving a totally accurate description of these constructions would take a lot of space, if at all possible. It's a case of expect the unexpected, created and performed with a high degree of excellence throughout. One may describe the end result as avant-garde or experimental in scope, and definitely as a part of the progressive rock universe: versatile, challenging, sophisticated, and most certainly innovative. Like most artists that aim to reach beyond the established boundaries and conceptions Garden Wall doesn't always manage to shine with sheer perfection from start to finish, but the standard is high throughout. As such this is one of the most satisfying productions I have encountered so far by an artist with a firm foundation within the most challenging parts of the progressive rock universe.

Conclusion. "Assurdo" is an album that showcases a band that aims for innovation and versatility. Compositions and arrangements are complex and challenging, the individual songs and the album as a whole unpredictable. Prog-metal and jazz-fusion are but two of many stylistic expressions utilized within the vast musical universe Garden Wall explores, but can to some extent be described as the outer limits. A high quality production by a high quality band, well worth exploring by adventurous progressive rock fans with a vast and liberal taste for all aspects of the genre. In particular by those who treasure productions of a highly challenging and innovative nature.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: January 2, 2012
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Lizard Records
Garden Wall


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