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(50:21, Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Vorrei 4:16 2. Il Domatore e la Trapezista 4:32 3. Meccaniche di Pensiero 2:17 4. Stanco Ripetersi 7:45 5. La Parola 6:20 6. Incanto 5:08 7. Una Voce 8:36 8. Vorrei Reprise I 5:13 9. Vorrei Reprise II 5:38 LINEUP: Marco Tuppo – narration; electric guitar Andrea Albanese – electric & classical guitars Luca Boldrin – fortepiano, keyboards; flute, trombone Adriano Barbiero – bass; drum loops Davide Gazzato – violin With: Egidio Marullo – drums Ninfa Gianuzzi – voice
Prolusion. Originally a trio consisting of Marco Tuppo, Luca Boldrin and Andrea Albanese (none of whom ever left the outfit), Italy’s NEMA NIKO has been working as a quintet since 2005, still with no basic lineup changes, i.e. not counting side participants. They celebrate their 10th anniversary this year, having four studio albums to date: “Mio Scialbo” (2000), “La Storia dell’Uomo Incontro se Sresso” (2002), “No Zeit 7905” (2006) and the one whose title is in the heading of this review.
Analysis. Each of the subsequent Nema Niko releases is in many ways different from its predecessor, and their latest effort, “Meccaniche di Pensiero”, is no exception to this rule. Figuratively speaking, these Italian space-fusion hikers once again change their musical starship’s course, turning it from distant insufficiently-explored galaxies to more homelike and civilized regions of the universe. This time around they don’t make themselves merry while playing their instruments, meaning there are much less impromptu-bordering-on-spontaneity moves here, the quantity of improvisations having been noticeably (if not strongly) lowered too – in favor of composed and, proper, symphonic solos. The music finally obtains a distinct mood, which is drama in a word, spreading almost throughout the recording, which yet retains some mysterious sense with a touch of magic, most typical of the project’s earliest work. The poetry is back, still in the shape of theatric narration. Unfolding against the backdrop of slowly droning synthesizers, it is apparently an important part of the tunes, but since it’s in Italian its meaning will remain beyond most of the disc’s listeners. Thankfully, with the exception of the short acoustic guitar interlude that gives the CD its title, Meccaniche di Pensiero, the narrative on average only touches one fifth of a piece (though as usual, such moments find Nema Nico at their most simplistic), two of the eight tracks present being free of it at altogether. Unlike their previous albums, besides looped electronic rhythmic patterns the group sometimes deploys an acoustic drum kit here, on Stanco Ripetersi, Incanto and Vorrei Reprise II in particular, which lends even more life to these, generally largely acoustic, compositions. Instead of layered synth patterns, we for the most part meet now with direct solos, coming either from analog-sounding synthesizers or fortepiano, which is one of the primary sources of blazing leads here. The other frequently used acoustic instruments are classical guitar and violin; the flute plays an important role on three of the tracks, while the trills of trombone I only hear one time. Either way, the basic style of this recording is instantly determinable and is symphonic Space Rock with some genuinely art-rock as well as fusionesque arrangements and only occasional minimalistic and, say, experimental tendencies. Although the music is either slow or very slow everywhere on the recording, it is not always flowing or atmospheric, but can in places be quite eclectic, dense and even bombastic also, as evinced on Il Domatore e la Trapezista, La Parola and Vorrei Reprise II, though only the last of these reveals this approach almost throughout. The only track on the CD I find to be underdeveloped is its opener, Vorrei, but what is really amazing is that the two closing ones, coming as Vorrei Reprise parts I & II, both have nearly nothing to do with their ‘basic’ piece as well as between themselves, Part I (one of the two compositions with female vocalizations) developing much in the same vein as the aforesaid largely acoustic compositions.
Conclusion. This recording finds Nema Niko improving dramatically compared at least to any of their previous two outings, and although the music isn’t too complex and is at times instantly accessible, it has a distinctly original quality to it, which is of great value nowadays. All in all, this is the group’s most cohesive and probably finest release to date, recommended to fans of conventional Space Rock and related styles.
VM: July 1, 2008
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