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TRACK LIST: 1. Evaporazione 4:20 2. La mela die Odessa 6:16 3. Cometa rossa 13:05 4. Hommage a Violette Noizieres 4:48 5. L'elefante bianco 4:25 6. Luglio, Augosto, Settembre (nero) 5:14 7. Vodka Cola 7:05 8. Il bandito del desero 7:18 LINEUP: Enrico Merlin - guitars Valerio Scrignoli - guitars
Prolusion. Italian guitarists Merlin and Scrignoli are well established musicians in their native homeland and beyond, both respected instrumentalists with a solid reputation in general and in jazz circles in particular. "Maledetti (Area Music)" is, to my knowledge at least, their first ever collaboration, and was released through Italian label Musicamorfosi in the spring of 2017.
Analysis. The title of this album indicates that this is an album revolving around the music of renowned Italian progressive rock band Area, and one might on surface inspection get the expectation that these two guitarists have created their own, dual guitar homage to this by many beloved band. I rather guess this is the case too, but in a manner not quite as straight forward as this description may indicate. As far as style is concerned, this is a production that resides deep inside the heartland of avant progressive rock, with a liberal amount of excursions into free form territories and even noise rock. Both guitarists here are obviously excellent musicians with a minute understanding of what they want to achieve. But the way they go about it is one that will be for a select and finite audience only, and one where I suspect many will be musicians themselves. The thing is that the material here are cover material mainly in name. The impression I get is that the songs have been deconstructed, certain elements have been isolated, and then used as the foundation for free form improvisations of varying kinds. At times with more or less distorted fragments of other musical creations added to the proceedings, at other times staying put to a strict Area basis as far as the foundation for the different expositions goes. The ghost of free form jazz hovers as a free presence throughout this album, with plucked notes, scale movements and floating textures aplenty, more often applied and explored in a non-harmony oriented manner. Reverbs, loops and effects are liberally applied as well, as pure noise, as surging and fluctuating notes and textures, and as unnerving dark, twisted guitar riff details. A few token sequences explores a more inviting and melody-oriented approach, as solitary presences in stormy waters of challenging, demanding and downright difficult oceans of sounds and effects. While these landscapes are explored by masters of their craft, and their mastery of these territories is impressive in it's own right, this is difficult music to listen to for enjoyment. For the select crowd that appreciates this kind of music I guess this is excellent material, for my sake this is the kind of material that leaves me with a headache and brain fog I'm afraid. Music that is exhausting to listen to, and for me at least doesn't reveal anything that I can find pleasure in.
Conclusion. The collaboration between Italian guitarists Merlin and Scrignoli comes across as very much a niche production. Fans of Area might want to give it an inspection out of sheer curiosity of course, but other than that my best estimate at a key audience for this album would be those with a soft spot for free form jazz, sound experiments and noise rock, as explored within an avant progressive rock context.
Progmessor: January 28th, 2018
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