[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(52:26, Black Widow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Intro 3.25 2. Id & Trad 4.38 3. Alleanza 4.03 4. Seconda Navigazione 1.33 5. Addio 1.00 6. Le Braccia e le Ali 6.04 7. Guerra 1.23 8. Godinus 7-1 4.31 9. Godinus 7-2 6.19 10. Tuona il Cannone 7.02 11. Per Tutti e Per Nessuno 1.14 12. L'Ultima Danza 9.17 13. Sipario 3.05 LINEUP: Giorgio C Neri – el., ac. & bass guitars; keyboards, flute, percussion Roberto Maragliano – drums With: Vittorio Ristagno – vocals (4, 11) Giuseppe Alvaro – vocals (10) Roberto Tiranti – vocals (10) Gian Castello – flute (10)
Prolusion. Born and based in Genoa, Italy, Giorgio Cesare NERI is a talented multi-instrumentalist and composer with extensive musical experience, among other things, as a session man and author of theatre soundtracks. He was taught the guitar by well-known guitarist Bambi Fossati (of Garybaldi fame), and was for a time a member of the band Agarthi Sound Factory. “Logos”, his debut album as a solo artist, has been described by Neri himself as a personal spiritual journey, or even a prayer.
Analysis. At a superficial glance, being more rooted in the trippy, hypnotic sounds of space-rock than in the passionate lyricism of Italian progressive rock, “Logos” (“Word” in Ancient Greek) may come across as a rather untypical album for an Italian artist. It is also a rather personal take on a genre (space rock) that is generally seen as more of a prerogative of the English and German musical culture, and one that does not shun forays into the Italian progressive tradition. In spite of being a relative newcomer to the recording scene, Giorgio C. Neri is an experienced multi-instrumentalist, though, as happens all too often, he has never be able to make a living out of his music. However, he is evidently a gifted musician, and a humble one as well – unlike others, who presume to be able to carry off a whole album without any outside input, for the recording of “Logos” he enlisted the help of drummer Roberto Maragliano, as well as a number of other musicians guesting on a couple of tracks. The presence of real drums is definitely a plus point for the album, since the overly mechanical sound of programmed drums would have been detrimental for the kind of music featured on “Logos”. As things are, instead, the album possesses a warm and intimate feel that perfectly suits the concept behind it. In the late Sixties and early Seventies, Neri’s home town of Genoa was a hotbed of musical creativity, producing artists as diverse as Fabrizio De Andre and New Trolls. A pervasive Italian musical vibe can therefore be felt on the album, alongside the stronger space rock imprint. Vocals (one of the trademarks of Italian prog) are used sparingly, but when they are, they add a welcome touch of melody and emotion to the proceedings. As in the case of most space rock, the music is not overly complex or demanding, leaning rather towards a repetitive, hypnotic mode, and taking full advantage of Neri’s skill as a keyboardist and guitarist. The use of various sound effects – a baby crying, falling water, warfare, even some religious chants – helps to create fascinating ambient soundscapes, which provide a suitable background for some really tasteful guitar excursions. Like most concept albums, “Logos” consists of tracks of varying lengths – some longer and weightier, others shorter and atmospheric, like interludes connecting the various parts together. The leading role of the synthesizer is nicely balanced by frequent piano and acoustic guitar passages, which contribute to the high melodic content of the compositions, adding a note of romantic wistfulness even to lengthy space-rock workouts like the 9-minute-plus L’Ultima Danza. Some of the more classically spacey tracks show influences by the likes of Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and early Porcupine Tree (especially the synth-driven Godinus 7-2 could fit quite comfortably on an album like “Signify”), while others are harder to classify – like Le Braccia e le Ali, one of the album’s highlights, a varied effort featuring skilfully executed layers of piano, synth and guitar over staccato drum bursts. The album’s crowning achievement, however, is the haunting, folksy Tuona il Cannone, a song about death featuring an intense vocal performance by guest singer Giuseppe Alvaro (a former bandmate of Neri’s in Agarthi Sound System), and a distinctive, Celtic-flavoured bridge with military drumming and bagpipe-sounding flute. On the other hand, Seconda Navigazione e Per Tutti e Per Nessuno, feature extracts from, respectively, Plato’s “Phaidon” and Nietzsche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, recited by a solemn male voice over slowly mounting synth washes. Neri should also be commended for keeping the album relatively short for today’s standards. A running time slightly above 50 minutes allows the music enough space to develop, while reducing the presence of filler – a common curse of modern albums. Since “Logos” is meant as a concept, however a loose one, there is a welcome consistency (as well as economy) to the structure of the material. In spite of the genre’s tendency towards sprawling, self-indulgent output (a criticism that can be levelled, for instance, at much of the work of bands like Ozric Tentacles), the album manages to come across as fairly tightly-knit – which makes it definitely more accessible, especially to newcomers to the genre.
Conclusion. Those who wish to explore the current Italian progressive rock scene beyond the more ‘traditional’ symphonic prog bands will definitely find “Logos” an intriguing prospect. Lovers of psychedelic/space rock may also be interested in checking out an album where the more straightforward sounds of the genre are tempered and mellowed by the influence of the Italian musical tradition. Hopefully the album will not remain a one-off, and that GC Neri will continue producing more music of the same high quality.
RB=Raffaella Berry: September 13, 2009
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]