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Pelican Milk - 2013 - "La Casa Degli Artisti"

(60:53, ‘Pelican Milk’)


1.  Vision 1 2:06
2.  Vision 2 9:56
3.  Vision 3 1:36
4.  Vision 4 6:10
5.  Vision 5 6:04
6.  Vision 6 0:52
7.  Vision 7 3:51
8.  Vision 8 3:08
9.  Vision 9 6:25
10. Vision 10 1:59
11. Vision 11 8:18
12. Vision 12 1:04
13. Vision 13 4:07
14. Vision 14 5:17


Terence Todaro – piano, keyboards
Alex Savelli – guitars; synthesizer
Ore Strane – clarinet, ocarina
Massimo Manzi – drums 
Guido Zenobi – bass 
Elisabtta del Ferro – viola da gamba

Prolusion. The Italian band PELICAN MILK was formed back in 2001, and in the next few years they released four full length albums, contributed on a number of compilation albums and EPs as well as to a movie soundtrack. But in 2007 the initial drive faded, and the band was left dormant. In January 2013 a new version of Pelican Milk had come to life, and following two days of recording in one specific location called La Casa Degli Artisti (there are quite a few of those in Italy) material for a new album was ready to be selected. The end result was released in the summer of 2013 as the bands fifth full length album "La Casa Degli Artisti".

Analysis. Pelican Milk as of 2013 is all about improvisations it seems, and this most recent album by them appears to be assembled partially by complete improvised features and by selected parts of improvisations. At least I presume that is the case whenever one of the fourteen visions at hand ends with a fadeout. As far as improvised music goes, this one is rather difficult to place within a specific tradition however, with some unusual combinations of stylistic details and expressions combined in this case. The haunting notes of a standalone ocarina, a type of wind instrument, opens this production in a manner that invites to associations towards mystical places and, at least for me, forests, old and ancient ones at that. Folk music or folk inspired music of a sparse, calm and elegant kind is what you might describe this one as. As the rest of the album unfolds we're taken on a merry an unpredictable ride. Drummer Manzi is fond of adding jazz-oriented patterns, and we hear a great deal of those, both the more relaxed varieties of them as well as the more energetic and challenging. Bassist Zenobi doesn't mind hitting a jazz-tinged line of approach either, but appears to be equally fond of vintage blues rock. Which does come to good use, as vintage sounding, psych-dripping blues rock is one of the styles explored, with guitarist Savelli's guitar taking a direct lead in those territories. Jazz, jazz rock and blues rock are frequently combined too, or at least instrumental details from these styles, and further expanding the stylistic palette we have some distinct jazz-tinged saxophone details, wheezing organ details that set a distinct 70's mood there and then, gentler playful piano motifs with just as much a jazz as classical origin and quite a few instances of keyboard textures and synth effects of the kind that you can't possibly describe without using the word cosmic. With a select few occasions of 80's style Frippian dream-laden guitar soloing as the proverbial icing on the cake, and some clever string details reminding of both violin and cello, depending on tone, as the cherry on top. The latter details are provided by the viola da gamba, adding a touch of chamber music and perhaps even chamber rock to the proceedings when utilized. While this may sound confusing, Pelican Milk combines and explores these elements in a fairly relaxed and elegant manner, the more few distinct psychedelic oriented blues rock sequences the most energetic and vibrant escapades. Otherwise the songs correlate in a highly appropriate manner to the band’s choice of naming them visions as they do come across as just that. Visions, gradually unfolding and taking us on a dream-laden, careful journey with a fair deal of unexpected moments shown us along the way. As is the fundamental nature of visions I guess. A specific mention is merited for concluding track Vision 14, a creation that takes the album full circle with some elegance, and then moves on further to what might or might not be shades of future material by this band.

Conclusion. Instrumental progressive rock of the improvisational kind is what pelican Milk provides on "La Casa Degli Artisti", a fine production that blends components, details and styles in uncommon, unusual and occasionally unexpected manners. An album that merits a check by those who find that description tantalizing, and in particular those who are intrigued by jazz, blues and psychedelic rock explored within a progressive rock context.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 5, 2014
The Rating Room

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