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(50:00, Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Cascade 5:06 2. Contrary Winds 8:11 3. Doggerel of the Deep 7:35 4. The Mysterious Cyclist of Cyclette 5:22 5. Amarcord 5:05 6. The Art of Being Amazed 4:52 7. Mosquitos Will Defeat FBI 3:05 8. Zeitgeber 5:56 9. Once Upon a Time in Extremistan 4:48 LINEUP: Lorenzo Monni – guitars; bass Luca Visentin – drums With Fabio Ricci – drums (4, 7, 9)
Prolusion. Italian composer and multi-instrumentalist Lorenzo MONNI only turns 25 this year if the biographical information on him is correct. And yet he's already crafted and released three full-length albums, of which "Grey Swans of Extremistan" from 2010 is the most recent. Like his previous two efforts, it has been issued under a Creative Commons license, and besides being available as a CD this production is also available as a legally free download on the artist’s webpage.
Analysis. According to Monni, "Grey Swans of Extremistan" has been inspired by Nicholas Taleb's book "Black Swan", where the metaphor “Black Swan events” is used to describe events that are undirected and unpredicted. And it seems obvious that Monni wants his listeners to contemplate his album title in such a context, where the color grey, and the fictional place “Extremistan” points back to this inspiration. But apart from the conceptual nature of the album's context, reflected in song titles the two different acts the songs are sorted under, this isn't a regular concept album as such, first and foremost due to its purely instrumental nature. Contained in the more curious liner notes found on this CD is the statement that no synths were used while the songs were recorded. Most listeners, however, will find quite a few passages where it seems apparent that some form of keyboard or synthesizer is present. Apparently Monni opted to experiment instead, utilizing the guitar in rather creative manners as a substitute for tangents of various kinds as well as other instruments, which does result in a sound with a unique touch to it. Multiple layers of guitars are a constant feature; most commonly the main theme is supplied by acoustic or undistorted electric guitar, gently providing circulating patterns or swirling motifs, supported by a steady rhythm section where the bass guitar often appears to have the role of momentum provider. Drawn-out, droning, reverberating, echoing or tortured sounds add various details to the songs, from dissonant hooks contrasting with the main theme to subtle sounds adding variation and tension to the proceedings. World music-inspired details make the odd appearance now and then, quirky excursions with a slight King Crimson-ian touch have a natural home on this album, and those fond of jazz will also find a few elements here and details there on regular occasions. Most tracks at some point feature post-rock tendencies, perhaps a rather obvious observation that follows as a natural consequence due to the manner in which the guitar is utilized on this production. And for those who are familiar with this disc right now feeling a great desire to shout out that synths were used at least on the song Zeitgeber... they weren't. But it is amazing what a creative mind can do with household appliances and some digital wizardry.
Conclusion. Lorenzo Monni's third full-length production "Grey Swans of Extremistan" is a hard to define, instrumental art rock album of good quality and with quite a few inventive and creative twists to it. World music, post-rock and jazz fusion appear to form the outer boundaries in terms of stylistic expression; classical music and psychedelic rock might be appended to such a description as well. If instrumental art rock with quirky details, sophisticated features and a certain emphasis on showcasing the creative possibilities the guitar is capable of in the hands of an inventive mind sound intriguing this is a CD that should prove appealing. As it is downloadable for free from the artist’s website, head over there and find out for yourself.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 3, 2011
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