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TRACK LIST: 1. Engasa Leaport 4:24 2. Michelle 5:16 3. Aristotele’s Tantalium Condenser 5:20 4. Kilimoonjingo 5:18 5. Pavento Sprobabile 5:06 6. Prajana Paramita’s Formula 3:23 7. Romanza No-1 6:28 8. Quatro Terzi 4:16 9. One Note Samba 3:55 LINEUP: Paolo Baltaro – bass; piano, organ, synthesizer Sandro Marinoni – sax, trombone, flute Gianni Opezzo – el. & ac. guitars Diego Marzi – drums, percussion Boris Savoldelli – vocals, voices
Prolusion. “Holzwege” is the brainchild of an Italian quintet whose name, SADO, is an abbreviation of Societa Anonima Deconstruionismi Organici.
Analysis. The group defines their music as deconstructing Jazz-Metal, but it doesn’t reveal even secondary elements of the latter genre, let alone metalloids, i.e. heavy guitar riffs. Maybe they mean Boris Savoldelli’s vocalizations that are reminiscent of so-called screaming? But even if so, those are only featured on one of the nine tracks here, Romanza No-1. In short, what a potential listener will hear on “Holzwege” is Jazz in a variety of its many manifestations of which, though, those belonging to conventional Jazz Rock and those evoking something extremely-to-extensively avant-garde (and which are indeed deconstructive in a way) are spread more widely than the others, two of the compositions, Michelle and Quatro Terzi, each only referring to the first and the second idiom, respectively. There are no real vocals on Quatro Terzi, but are only spoken phrases and exclamations, most of which are ‘delivered’ in a semi-imperative, semi-aggressive manner. The piece’s instrumental part is done (can’t put “created” here) spontaneously. Full of chaotic, totally unvectored solos, it reminds one more of the Brownian movement than something artificially eclectic, for instance. The band doesn’t deconstruct anything – instead they construct nothing by playing at sixes and sevens. Keeping in mind Taylor’s Free Universe, Aka Moon, John Zorn and (early ‘70s) Soft Machine, I’m not willing to classify that opus as Avant-Jazz. Furthermore, when listening to it I was reminded of the Russian byword: “Those who are incapable of composing music do play impromptu”. Another track that never leaves its stylistic domain, Michelle is a swing-based ballad, smooth and melodious. While only deploying standard jazz devices and so being fairly scholastic in nature, this is nevertheless a bit more than merely an acceptable piece, revealing some original (too high-pitched for my taste, though) vocalizations as well as lyrics-based vocals along the way. Of the remaining ‘vocal’ tracks, which will be named a bit below, two can be regarded as full-fledged songs, while the other three are largely instrumental. Nonetheless Boris does his job quite well on those, as his singing is highly diverse there, now – instantly – bringing to mind a girlish school choir (on Kilimoonjingo), now a muezzin (on Engasa Leaport, where the music as such bears a free jazz character), now something that seems to belong to North African aboriginal music (on Prajana Paramita’s Formula). The last named track is a congas-driven piece and so has a certain ethnic feeling throughout. However, its first half leaves a much better impression then the second one, where a harmonica-imitating synthesizer pad appears and comes to the fore, replacing the flute and most of the other real instruments as well. There is also a lot of verbal trash (which is presented as “vocal noises” in the booklet) on this relatively short track – too many in quantity compared to those on the others, at least on average. The two instrumentals, Aristotele’s Tantalium Condenser and Pavento Sprobabile, each alternate typically swingy moves with space fusion and free jazz ones, respectively, the latter being full of speedy impromptu leads, most of which seem to steer into somewhere halfway between over-eclecticism and chaos. Only the real songs, Romanza No-1 and One Note Samba, and also Kilimoonjingo, are cohesive on all their levels and are classic jazz-fusion creations with only elements of both conventional and free jazz. While painting melodic vocal lines on these (which he does most of the time), especially when doing full-fledged vocals, Boris applies either his native sympho-prog school of singing or – less often – the bluesy one, and by the way art-rock-evoking intonations aren’t too alien to the songs’ instrumental contents/canvases, either, and can be detected within some, if not many, of their organ-laden moves. All in all, my favorite track here would be Romanza No-1, where the band shines with both technical virtuosity and precision, from time to time accelerating or slowing down their pace, doing so with ease and propriety alike, in full accordance with what such – in all senses complex – tricks demand from those who venture to employ them. The above screaming-style vocalizations at first seem to be a mere makeweight to the lyrics-based vocals, whilst in fact they appear to be yet another link in a chain of features that are served to diversify the style of the composition and thus its overall picture, also.
Conclusion. “Holzwege” by SADO reflects the same problems that many jazz musicians meet up with, at least as it’s seen from a progressive perspective – regardless of the genres that the implied kind of art embraces, as we can take any of those as an example, be it Classical music, Prog-Metal or Avant-Jazz, etc. In short, their playing is superb, whereas in what concerns the composition and the arrangement they fairly often fail, which is especially striking when they seem to take up (or rather leap into) whatever comes into their mind without stopping to think, and then they simply get in over their head. Want to make music spontaneously? Even then you have to think over what you are going to do before you start on your free flight – like Escapade does it, for instance. Besides, the contents of this – originally motley in terms of style – release are compiled so illogically that, despite featuring some really fine pieces, in its entirety it will hardly please anyone else. The review of “Protoplasmic” by Boris Savoldelli and Elliott Sharp can be read here.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: September 7, 2009
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