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(56 min, Lizard)
TRACK LIST: 1. Free Message 6:38 2. Mark Sandman Groovy Funeral 8:05 3. Downtown Judy 3:16 4. Cold Rain 2:05 5. Egocaine 7:23 6. Under the Lake 5:04 7. Beefcake 8:04 8. A Rainy Night in Solar Plexus 5:30 9. Second Hand Life 6:03 10. TSM Phantom Theme 3:51 All tracks: by The Slowmovies. Produced by The Slowmovies. LINE-UP:
Prolusion. There is too little concrete information in the press kit of this CD. So all I really know about The SLOWMOVIES at the moment is as follows. They are from Italy, "Egocaine" is their only album thus far, and the band does not have a website.
Analysis. First of all, I'd like to note that there is some correlation between the band's name and their music. I am not quite certain about "movies". The music does not evoke associations with soundtracks, but the conception of "slow movement" is quite appropriate for this album, especially with regard to the basic themes, provided usually by piano, bass and drums. The parts of soloing instruments (cello, violin and saxophone, plus vibraphone and trombone on a few tracks) are varied in tempo, but never fast. All in all, the absence of highly intensive arrangements is one of distinguishing characteristics of "Egocaine", which, though, does not imply anything negative in this very case. The Slowmovies offer the listener an extraordinary chamber Rock, full of fresh ideas and unexpected decisions. In most cases, the musicians playing chamber instruments are responsible for creating symphonic textures, the brass players do quasi and authentic improvisations, and only the parts of the rhythm section always remain within the framework of fixed themes. There are no brass on Free Message and Under the Lake, so they are free of jazzy features and represent a synthesis of Minimalist and, that said, full-fledged Classical music as such and being performed by dints of Art-Rock as well. You have to hear the album to know how the band managed to combine accessible forms with complicated ones, as it's difficult to describe this. On Mark Sandman Groovy Funeral and A Rainy Night in Solar Plexus, minimalist forms are blended with those of Jazz-Fusion, which is due to the domination of brass on these. The other five compositions are much more complicated. Although Minimalist music is part of each of them too, it mostly appears as an attendant factor. On Downtown Judy, Cold Rain and the title track, I hear a moderately intensive, yet, highly intricate Zeuhl, slightly resembling of Zao circa "Kawana", while Beefcake and Second Hand Life are closer to classic RIO. Formally, the CD consists of ten tracks, but the last one, TSM Phantom Theme, is just a phantom indeed. It's just empty, so the real running time of the album is 52 minutes.
Conclusion. This little chamber ensemble won't strike you with virtuosity, but recall Pink Floyd, for instance. They didn't shine technically, but how wonderful their music is! Here is a similar situation. The Slowmovies are professional musicians, of course, but what's of a greater significance, they are honest, inspired composers and are good arrangers. It would've been hard to me to believe that "Egocaine" is their debut if I weren't in the know of this. This is a strong album and is in many ways close to the masterwork status. Recommended.
VM: January 21, 2005
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