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(53 min, Lizard)
TRACK LIST: 1. Introduction 2:47 2. Improvisation-I 4:08 3. Composition-I 4:49 4. Improvisation-II 6:38 5. Improvisation-III 3:32 6. Impression-I 9:28 7. Improvisation-IV 5:40 8. Impression-II 8:17 9. Composition-II 7:41 LINEUP: David Aberr - bass Nicola Tarpani - drums Massimo Cervini - guitars Laurence Cocchiara - violin
Prolusion. THIS HARMONY is an instrumental Italian quartet counting only three years of its existence. "Leila Saida" (which is a Turkic/Arabic female name) is their first full-length album, though they also have an EP, titled "Live Dal Salotto", on which they present purely acoustic variants of some of the tracks from "Leila Saida", having additionally engaged a violin quartet for that their 'unplugged adventure'.
Analysis. Above all, I'd like to note that much of the music on this studio effort by This Harmony has a striking acoustic feeling too, the first two pieces featuring no electric instruments - with the exception of bass which, though, has such a warm-and-soft sound there that I would have easily believed it also to be acoustic had I not looked into the booklet. What is more, only when listening to the fourth track did I realize I was hearing an electric guitar, although that instrument first appears on the third one where, yet, it leaves the impression of being another acoustic guitar - just played via a pick-up on its board. As is clear from the track list above, this disc includes one Introduction, two Impressions, two Compositions and four Improvisations, which suggests at least three different types of music, the latter two implying two differing harmonies. After listening to the CD however, I haven't found any cogent distinctions even between Improvisations and Compositions, let alone the other categories. To put an end to these my mental speculations, I am affirming there is not even a tinge of jazz harmony on this recording. Only semi-improvisations can be found here, and these are adopted in both Symphonic Progressive and Classical music, the latter form being in a greater degree substantial for this recording than the former one. I see I've just sketched the essence of "Leila Saida" (surprisingly, no oriental tunes here). To my way of thinking, the only significant matter on the basis of which the album's content can be viewed from different angles lies in the fact that some of its nine tracks have a rock component, and some not. Each of the first three cuts, Introduction, Improvisation-I and Composition-I, is built upon a constantly developing, yet always exceptionally cohesive interaction between violin, bass and acoustic guitar, but since the opening tune is performed without drums, it gives me the impression of a piece of Classical music. The other two are rich in contrasting transitions, such as those from fast, dynamically evolving arrangements (with a fat, at times verily roaring bass and a powerful drumming) to quieter ones, embracing probably everything so that some might want to define both as classically-inflected Symphonic Progressive somewhat in the style of UK's "Danger Money", but not I. For me, this is nothing other than Classical music by means of a chamber-rock ensemble and is beyond comparison. The one featuring congas instead of a drum kit, Impression-I, is a long piece, lasting for nine-and-a-half minutes, but while the music is slow and is most often atmospherically-transparent, it constantly changes its configuration, i.e. progresses, so I would never dare to call it even New Age, let alone Ambient. Overall, each of the remaining five tunes, Composition-II, Improvisation-II, III & IV and Impression-II, is quite similar to both Improvisation-I and Composition-I in construction. On these however, the sections with intense arrangements has a genuine rock sound. The point is that the acoustic guitar has given way to its electric counterpart, though it's still the violin which most often dominates these five, too. This time around, a confluence of Progressive Rock and Classical music seems to be an apt definition, but still no reference points, sorry.
Conclusion. This Harmony is definitely a band to watch in the future, and their debut effort is in all senses an excellent recording. I don't really know what prevents me from adding an exclamation mark to the rating - perhaps the fact that Massimo Cervini, while really shining as an acoustic guitar player, much more often provides rhythms or fingering than solos when switching over to electric guitar. Anyway, "Leila Saida" comes highly recommended, particularly to those with a strong interest in Chamber Rock with reference to Classical music - please note this. (I have no idea why many reviewers label the works of RIO and the like, i.e. those touching Avant-garde academic music, with the term of Chamber Rock.)
VM: February 6, 2006
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