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(66:58, Altrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Merta 7:32 2. Cocomelastico 6:29 3. Off 4:17 4. Il Presidente 9:06 5. Adriatico 10:05 6. La Bolla 9:55 7. Uccellin del Bosco 4:55 8. Napier 7:28 9. Lindbergh 7:11 LINEUP: Aldo de Scalzi vocals; bass; synthesizer Paolo Griguolo vocals; guitars; flute Paolo Botta piano, synthesizer Calerio Cipollone clarinet, sax Fracesco Zago guitars Pietro Cavedon piano Mattia Signo drums Dado Sezzi percussion Aldo Di Marco percussion
Prolusion. The Italian ensemble PICCHIO DAL POZZO (PDP hereinafter) can trace its roots back to the early 70's. The main members started working together in 1973 and didn't actually choose a band name until an album's worth of material had been recorded in 1976 and their label at the time needed a band name to publish it under. Since then PDP has released a further four productions, of which "A_Live" from 2010 is the most recent.
Analysis. As one might surmise from the album title, "A_Live" is a concert recording. And besides being the first ever of these to be released as a CD by this act, it is a unique item in their discography for a few additional reasons. For starters, only four of the band members are present. But instead of opting for a minimalistic live representation, Picchio Dal Pozzo is joined by fellow Italian act Yugen on stage for this occasion, a historical event that took place on the 2008 edition of the Italian Altrock festival. These two bands had started collaborating a year or so prior to this event, and the nine-man-strong ensemble that performed documented its joint interests in an effective manner one has to admit, although in this case with the sole focus on the works of PDP. In addition, a previously thought lost composition has been added at the end of this disc, and the story of how Lindbergh was recovered is a fascinating read I'll leave for those buying this CD to enjoy. Musically, we're dealing with pieces that most will describe as avant-garde in nature. Subtly challenging endeavors, in which multiple layers of individual instrumental motifs explore the borderlands between the harmonic, disharmonic and dissonant in ways that can only be described as intricate, quirky and sophisticated. Rather often with something of a chamber rock flavoring to the proceedings, flute, clarinet and saxophone receive special emphasis in the sonic tapestries woven. When that is said, the general approach is of a gentle nature. Where other acts active within this subset of the progressive rock universe might choose to go for a sound characterized by highly challenging motifs of either extremely experimental or demanding aggressive style, PDP prefers calmer waters, often displaying a fondness for themes with more of a dreamlike nature. An additional facet they share with some other acts that many will describe as avant-garde is a fondness for jazz-inspired efforts, and those with a keen interest in compositions of that genre should enjoy a track like Il Presidente, which comes across as something of a tour de force for material of that nature following the initial movement. The only letdown on this production is the recovered item Lindbergh actually, at least as far as I'm concerned. But for fans of this act this should be a nice treat anyhow, in itself a good selling point that justifies its inclusion.
Conclusion. Those who have a general appreciation for avant-garde progressive rock that doesn't adhere to the aggressive, inyour-face approach, but instead opts to explore features of a gentler and more subtle nature should find this live CD by these Italian veterans to be a real treat: well-performed and well-captured live footage, featuring a rich myriad of sounds and details, delivered by the nine-man-strong ensemble on stage. A general appreciation of jazz-inspired efforts will be essential to derive full enjoyment from this production, which might limit the target audience slightly. Overall, this is a very good live album from two sophisticated avant-garde bands collaborating to showcase works by one of them in the best manner possible.
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