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Zita Ensemble - 2006 - "Volume 1"

(58 min, Lizard Records)


****+
                 

TRACK LIST:

1.  Fiori Di Gulnara 7:09
2.  Concrete Waves 11:36
3.  Glass Pty 6:12
4.  Frida 3:34
5.  La Lingua Lucida 4:37
6.  Suite No-1 24:39

LINEUP:

Luca Vicenzi - el. & ac. guitars
Marco Fortuna - bass, contrabass 
Pierpaolo Lofrano - drums

Prolusion. A regular item in a long series of debut albums that I received for review this last winter - this time around from Italian trio ZITA ENSEMBLE.

Analysis. This set of six instrumental pieces, titled simply "Volume I", runs in fact for a little over 40 minutes, and not nearly the 58 indicated in the display of my CD player. I will explain why, later. The album opens with Fiori Di Gulnara whose beginning is the heaviest and, at the same time, most monotonous music to be discovered on the disc, finding its makers playing a dark mono-riff Doom Metal, the whole instrumentation being almost maniacally repetitious. The cut's subsequent events modify in theme, pace and structure, its overall stylistic picture suggesting Psychedelic Rock with elements of Techno Metal, each of which, in turn, is typical of the entire material. To be more precise, I think the trio have set themselves the task of portraying various manifestations of psychedelic music, since fully structured movements adjoin the unstable ones on most of the tracks, the group now playing both simple and melodious music, now providing spontaneous rock improvisations (although the arrangements are never labyrinthine - even at their most eclectic). As is almost everywhere on the album, the music on Fiori Di Gulnara shifts frequently and is in the final analysis nearly ever-changing, which would've been really fine for this reviewer had it developed logically, being submitted to any compositional regularities. In reality however, the tune is devoid of its inner integrity, arousing associations with a coverlet woven of many different rags. The rhythm section, bassist Marco Fortuna and drummer Pierpaolo Lofrano, are at times obviously late for the group's live wire, guitarist Luca Vicenzi, joining the man just a few seconds after he sets up the next movement. At such moments, it all sounds like Luca switches over from one theme to another as if having forgotten to make his band mates aware of his posterior steps. All these statements apply to the four pieces that follow the opening one too, but to a lesser degree. Each of these next, Concrete Waves, Glass Pty, Frida and La Lingua Lucida, appears to be somewhat less fragmentary in its construction and, just consequently, is more coherent than the preceding one, the latter two only rarely leaving the impression of being sketchy, though these are short pieces. In its entirety, the concluding number, Suite No-1, can hardly be perceived otherwise than a very strange beast. However its first conventional part, lasting for 7+ minutes, is the place where the trio finally reaches a really well balanced sound. Viewed in isolation from the track's subsequent content, this cut appears to be a complete musical composition, flawless in every respect, and while all the other tunes can be regarded as suites only at a stretch, this one is indeed just what its title suggests. The piece starts off with masterfully executed passages of classical guitar which, while constantly changing their thematic direction, become as a result a perfect springboard for the maneuvers that follow, which involve the entire trio. Despite its abundance in contrasting transitions, this is a highly cohesive tune, structurally reminding me somewhat of Tangerine Windows of Solace from the second Sieges Even CD, "Steps". A true culmination of this recording and an essential progressive listen alike, this cut extends over 7 minutes, and it would've been just perfect if it hadn't had any continuation. Nothing of the kind! After a whole 4 minutes of absolute silence appear chaotic effects with (uncredited) sax and trumpet lazily hovering over these for about one-and-a-half minutes. What is more, the next pause is twice as long as the previous one, spreading down to the 'finale' where the trio at long last makes the patient listener happy:-) with their rock improvisations which are however as meaningless as they are fleeting.

Conclusion. Zita Ensemble have their own original vision of the style they've chosen, which however, is the only truly significant virtue of their debut effort. Much of their music is rather scholastic, leaving the impression of being somewhat half-baked. Besides, the album's palette is usually three-color, since the trio could not properly avail themselves of the studio possibilities. I am not sure even those with a keen interest in Psychedelic Rock will like "Volume I" in its entirety.

VM: March 4, 2007


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