[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(54:49, MaRaCash Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Cluster 6:17 2. Hot Wine 6:07 3. Slapdash Dance 6:18 4. Alexa in the Cage 5:44 5. Into the Void 6:34 6. Who's Bisex 5:16 7. Return to Kolkata 7:53 8. Spin the Wheel 4:55 9. Alexa in the Cage Instrumental 5:45 (b/t) LINEUP: Angelo Racz – piano, organ, synthesizers Ettore Salati – guitars, sitar; dulcimer Nicola Della Pepa – bass Roberto Leoni – drums With: Joe Sal – vocals (4)
Prolusion. The Italian quartet THE REDZEN was formed in 2009, with Ettore Salati, Roberto Leoni and Marco Schembri as the principal founding members, the latter leaving the project soon after its inception however. But the line-up soon stabilized and music was made both on the stage and in the studio by the foursome. "Void" is their debut effort and was issued in early 2011 through the Italian label MaRaCash Records.
Analysis. Those with a bit of familiarity of Italian progressive rock may know some of the musicians involved in this band: three of the forming members of The Watch. And due to that I would imagine that many will be curious about what they have to offer with this new musical vehicle of theirs. The answer to that question is instrumental progressive rock. Not the most precise of descriptions, but one that should stop some from reading further and pique the interest of others. Further detailing the music explored by this band is the notion that the material appears to be of an improvisational nature. The nature of these compositions makes me suspect that some initial themes are constructed, and a skeletal figure of the compositions is actually worked out beforehand, and that the improvisations are worked out within this framework. I may be wrong in that, but as a listener that is my main impression. Beyond that, the music itself is of a smooth and fluid nature, tightly interwoven instrumental escapades with enough grit and contrast to stay engaging, enough pace to stay energetic, and with just about the right amounts of variations and development to uphold the momentum. A distinct, insistent bass motif is the main provider of contrasting elements throughout, while keyboards and guitars take turns in the soloing department, the active instrument dominating and the passive given more of a supporting role. Until they switch, frequently also combining to craft passages of a more majestic nature. The drums beneath are tight and steady, only rarely grabbing the limelight on this occasion, to my ears at least. In style we're dealing with a many-headed beast, allegorically speaking. There are distinct elements of jazz that pop up on regular occasions from all instrumentalists, and bassist Pepa tends to opt for a general approach of jazz-oriented motifs throughout. The guitars and keyboards will frequently explore a landscape with more of a symphonic orientation however. And while the former may also include some metal-inspired details from time to time, the latter will occasionally seek out space-inspired, futuristic textures to further enhance the level of variation. By and large, I guess most will regard this quartet as residing somewhere within fusion boundaries. And while that isn't a universal truth as such, the eclectic scope and nature of this band is an undeniable fact and an asset. There's also the token exception to the rule to enjoy, as it has opted to include one composition featuring lead vocals, originally made for a compilation album from what I understand. Instrumental aficionados will most likely appreciate the fact that The RedZen has opted to also include the instrumental version of this piece.
Conclusion. Those who like instrumental progressive rock that covers relatively vast ground in terms of expression, are able to appreciate and enjoy fluent compositions with a strong improvised feel, and like their music to be fairly challenging yet accessible should find this band and their debut album to be a fascinating acquaintance, well worth exploring. A fine initial effort by a talented band, and one I hope we will hear more from in years to come.
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]