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(55:05, ‘Kevin Martinelli’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Mar 8:02 2. Yaw 10:24 3. Obstacle 6:07 4. Col 7:42 5. Arc 7:18 6. Tor 7:00 7. Yamunotri 8:32 SOLO PILOT: Kevin Martinelli – keyboards, sampling
Prolusion. US composer and musician Kevin MARTINELLI used to be a guitarist if I have understood his history correctly. Later, however, life, chance and circumstances have forced him into using the keyboard as his means of creating music. In his current role as creator of music he has three full-length studio albums to his name. "Che Guevara Practices Telekinesis by the Dodge", the second of those, was self-released in 2011.
Analysis. This curiously named album contains music that at times is even more quirky than what the album title might suggest, and rather more challenging as well when it comes to that. It is not a uniform production, however, because neither style nor experienced quality stays within a set parameter. As far as the latter goes, the possibilities and limitations of the keyboard as the sole instrument at hand is indeed a factor. The seven tracks here all explore at times vastly different types of music, and the end results are as varied as the compositions. Mar kicks off with a rather challenging, demanding and quirky blend of classical piano, progressive metal and classical symphonic music, and Yaw continues in an arguably even more challenging manner with something of an avant-garde oriented take on a mix that, among other details, consists of jazz and symphonic progressive rock. For Obstacle Martinelli heralds out into a King Crimson oriented landscape, and then takes a sharp left turn on Arc, which comes across as a more exotic, ambient kind of creation closer to the likes of Kitaro, complete with subtly dramatic, theatrical details. On Tor we're treated to ambient landscapes combined with jazz-oriented instrument details and a few instances of progressive metal tossed into the blender, and finally the concluding composition Yamunotri returns to a more exotic-sounding ambient landscape again, with subtly jazz-tinged instrumental details and a distinct world music flavor creating a strong and distinct mood throughout. The main challenge of this album, so to speak, is that everything is played by or through keyboards. In the more ambient-oriented creations this isn't much of a problem, but whenever Martinelli seeks to create more demanding material, the shortcomings of the keyboard-crafted composition come to the fore in an abrupt and detrimental manner. Cue the opening tracks, with a cold, sterile and clinical sound, harsh instrument details and several cases of emulated instruments or samples that just don't manage to truly convey what I suspect the creator really wanted to craft. Especially when these excursions are hectic and busy with multiple sound layers, this becomes an issue, but also when disharmonies are explored and expressive, dominant rhythms are implemented. The most expressive and adventurous compositions thus come across as too clinical, sterile and lacking in emotion, while the more careful and ambient-oriented ones are creations where the strong qualities of the keyboards really and truly can be and are explored and used.
Conclusion. Ultimately I suspect that the target audience for a production of this specific kind is a rather narrow one. The ambient oriented compositions on this album are well made creations, of the kind that should appeal to those who treasure artists such as Kitaro and possibly Vangelis, while the detrimental aspects of the more challenging progressive rock and even avant-garde oriented escapades make these more a case for those who enjoy listening to great ideas in that vein that, for one or more reasons, are lacking in execution and finish.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 3, 2017
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