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(79 min, Mellow)
TRACK LIST: 1. Nemesis 6:06 2. Sunset 4:27 3. Festival 5:52 4. Despaire 10:08 5. Hallowe en Suburb 5:22 6. Providance 5:16 7. Nemesis-II 2:41 8. The Clause 7:00 9. Where Once Poe Walked 5:02 10. Sunset-II 8:38 11. The Mountains of Madness 11:29 12. The Wood 7:43 LINEUP: Mauricio Rossi - bass, guitars; keyboards; vocals Paolo Carniani - drums, percussion Gianfranco Dini - trumpet, French horn Leonardo Masini - guitars Nicola Di Staso - guitars Roberto Masini - violin
Prolusion. GOAD is a young Italian group centered round multi-instrumentalist and composer Mauricio Rossi, who penned all the music for their debut CD, "The Wood".
Analysis. The album is dedicated to the memory of H. P. Lovecraft, one of the most popular inventors of horror stories. The lyrics are credited to the maestro himself. All this instantly arouses associations with the early work of French outfit Halloween, particularly with their second disc "Laz". However, the music from "The Wood" doesn't reveal any similarities between its makers and the said ensemble. Furthermore, there is nothing, well, Lovecraftian here too, save the lyrics as such, taken out of the context of the album's pan-musical picture. The prevalence of dramatic and neutral shades over affirmative ones in the emotional spectrum is obvious, but there is no place even for moderately melancholic ones, let alone those sullen or dreadful. Contrary to its threatening title, the opening track Nemesis is quite mellow throughout. This is an instrumental piece involving electric, nylon and bass guitars, synthesizers, drums and mallet percussion, and while the music is far from being intricate and is mostly slow and atmospheric, the band never returns to the past to pick up anything else they've sowed previously. The second (and the last) instrumental awaits the listener somewhere in the middle of the album. While titled as Nemesis-II, the piece has compositionally nothing to do with the opener, and yet stylistically, it develops the matter outlined there and brings it up to the mark, i.e. just perfection. The music is also symphonic Art-Rock bordering on quasi Jazz-Fusion, but is notably more diverse and eclectic, besides which the addition of trumpet, French horn and piano to the fold helps each of the components obtain a much more distinct shape. Both instrumentals are unique in all senses and can't be subjected to any comparisons, unlike the songs. It is no wonder that the tracks with lyrical content turn out to be less original since Mauricio's vocals are the principal (at times the only) bearer of others' influences. Each of the songs from the album's second half features sections in which Rossi applies exclusively his natural, quite hoarse and absolutely incomparable voice, but nevertheless he more often follows the manner of singing that Peter Gabriel was notable for at the time Genesis had just stepped on their 'classic' path. The first three songs, Sunset, Despaire and Festival, very naturalistically reproduce the distinctive atmosphere of Genesis's "Trespass", Rossi's style of playing both electric and acoustic guitars having a certain common ground with that of Anthony Phillips. All three are rich in acoustic textures, but especially the first two, standing out for inventive passages of nylon guitar evolving either alone or along with those of trumpet, French horn and violin, whose presence here serves one of the determinative factors that are of benefit to the stuff's identity. In all, the music on each is both beautiful and pithy, arousing pleasant nostalgic remembrances and bringing a healthy dose of food for thought as well. Anyway, the consequent seven tracks are more eventful, their sonic palette being more saturated too, all of which is partly thanks to the larger contribution from the group's 'free guitar flyers' Leonardo Masini and Nicola Di Staso, both of whom tend to a blues technique, which in turn lends more distinction to the overall sound, more and more distancing it from that of Genesis - beginning with Hallowe en Suburb and Providance. The latter song is striking for Mauricio's excellent organ work in addition. The Clause follows the aforementioned Nemesis-II and is on many levels related to it, concluding the set of pieces with a more or less pronounced semi-improvisational feel. The shade of Genesis is back to walk Where Once Poe Walked and the largely instrumental Sunset-II, both of which are abundant in piano and vintage keyboards, and the latter in highly intriguing maneuvers as well. The Mountains of Madness reveals the largest amount of original ideas and is the most variegated and adventurous composition on the CD, an absolute masterwork. The title track is also outstanding, being inferior to its predecessor just in the number of different thematic sections.
Conclusion. I have no hesitations about recommending Goad, especially for those ready to meet something unusual within Symphonic Progressive, which certainly means not everything is as simple about "The Wood" as it may seem to be upon the reading of this review. (Yes, such things happen from time to time, due to a reviewer's defects, sure.) These Italian musicians have some more trumps up their sleeve, certainly not only those marked - by Genesis.
VM: July 21, 2006
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