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(43:36, Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Idiosincrasia 5:10 2. Myths 4:57 3. L'Abbraccio 5:14 4. Tete 4:04 5. Non Si Puo’ Cambiare 3:37 6. Sbrisiu 3:10 7. Particelle 13:11 8. Emilia Malinconica 4:13 LINEUP: Sara Aliani – bass; vocals Andrea Poggi – guitar Marco Libe – guitar Cristian Piga – saxophone Michele Molinari – drums; trumpet With: Cristiano Sanzeri – additional basses Fabrizio Delledonne – keyboards (5, 6)
Prolusion. I only know that “Particelle” is the second album by Italy’s quintet LAGARTIJA. It seems the band still doesn’t have a website, as there is not even a hint of its existence (or building either) in the CD booklet.
Analysis. Three of the eight tracks on this 43-minute disc are all-instrumental, and I’ll begin with those. Surprisingly, one of them, Sbrisiu, is done without the band’s participation at all. Composed and performed solely by a guest musician, keyboardist Fabrizio Delledonne, this is a piece for piano, an excellent one, bringing together symphonic and quasi-jazz motifs in a rather sophisticated way. What is more, while appearing in no other manner than as an alien presence compared to the rest of the album, above all structurally, it still somehow sounds suitable. On the other two vocal-free tracks, Idiosincrasia and Tete, the band spans the styles of Alternative and Art-Rock with elements of melodic Jazz-Fusion and bits of heavy music, resulting in a series of recurrent, yet still variable themes with some truly mesmerizing melodies. To a certain degree, both of them remind me of ‘Pipeline’ and suchlike instrumentals by The Alan Parsons Project with Mel Collins on sax, and I must note Cristian Piga’s saxophone playing is very tasteful (too), the man being the crucial soloing voice on the album in general, at least in terms of progressiveness. With their standout sax leads, good support from guitars and a tight rhythm section, these two are my favorite tracks here. The other five compositions sound more conventional – partly because the sax has less-to-much-less room to solo. L'Abbraccio and Non Si Puo’ Cambiare are the best of those. Both of them are mid-tempo alternative rock songs, where Sara Aliani’s (mostly average, but occasionally Keith Bushesque) vocals are normally backed by quite simple arrangements of two guitars, bass and drums, both six-stringers holding the rhythm when she sings. Thankfully, the drummer provides complex, almost atonal beats, shining also within the pieces’ instrumental sections (along with the sax man and one of the guitar players), which are much more diverse and compelling than the vocal ones. The disc’s only item that’s performed without sax, Myths is a slow alt-rock ballad which, nevertheless, reveals some fine moments too – as also does the title track. Overall, however, this 13-minute opus fails, at least as an epic, despite being largely instrumental. The point is that it is overextended, slowly winding through some bleak chord progressions all over its core part, two of the five movements that it’s made up of – particularly one with a male narration – monotonous and generally far-fetched. In contrast, Emilia Malinconica (a much shorter track) at least shows that the band can execute extremes within one piece, beginning and unfolding as guitar soundscapes with vocals before flowing through a quasi art-rock move akin to Radiohead and, finally, jumping into almost a heavy metal assault.
Conclusion. Traditionally, this album has been reviewed from the point of view of a lover of profound music. Now, however, I must note that, despite the absence of advanced progressive arrangements, it is a fairly pleasing listening overall, and is one of the very best alternative rock-related albums I’ve met with to date. These musicians have taste and can create auras that mesmerize without being sophisticated.
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