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Nicholas D'Amato's Royal Society - 2005 - "Nullius in Verba"

(39 min, Buckyball)

TRACK LIST:                    
1.  Sequitur 6:02
2.  Pivot 7:01
3.  Sensus 2:48
4.  Extracted 6:11
5.  Expanded 1:55
6.  Sequence 6:18
7.  Compound 1:09
8.  Ratio 7:50


Nicholas D'Amato - bass
Wayne Kranitz - guitar
John O'Reilly - drums

Prolusion. "Nullius in Verba" is the first album by the ROYAL SOCIETY project, which is led by Nicholas D'Amato, a bassist and composer from the American state of New Jersey, although none of the trio is a novice on the music scene, to say the least. Nicholas's general discography counts more than twenty releases. It can be found on his official website and features links to the sites of the other projects that he is part of.

Analysis. The triumphal procession of classic Jazz-Rock/Fusion over the world of progressive music continues. I think this could be an apt epigraph to any review of "Nullius in Verba", at least in a generalized sense. The album is comprised of eight instrumental compositions, most of which fully suit the said genre definition, but some not. The first three of the longer tracks: Sequitur, Extracted and Pivot have much common ground, but only the former two I perceive to be entities of a compositionally-unified stylistic concept, although even these have some distinctions. Sequitur combines a structured and free improvisational approach, having a distinctive, pronounced jazzy sense in places. While being of a similar configuration on the general plane, Extracted is more accentuated rhythmically (despite the absence of even meters here, as well as anywhere on the recording), particularly when the trio paves the paths of intensity and dynamism, though the occasional atmospheric episodes have more symmetrical lines in their construction than those on the first track, too. There also are unison solos and those in 4th or 5th on each, but they appear only episodically, serving as a brief (plus without hand-rail:-) bridge to the next movement, while the amazing counterpointed melodies rule almost everywhere, the bass and guitar solos on all levels contrasting with each other, as well as with those of drums. The bass becomes a living instrument in Nicholas D'Amato's hands, drawing vivid and always sensible pictures. Drummer John O'Reilly is keen on odd meters, never betraying this very commendable passion. Wayne Kranitz is a versatile guitar player, embracing multiple directions, which will be clear from the review's successive content. On Extracted he uses "wah-wah" pedal effects widely, which evoke great nostalgic associations with the '70s and, at the same time, with Pivot, which is partly because the guitar solos originate from Blues in both cases. Pivot is fully structured Jazz-Fusion with a strong Blues Rock component, filled with the magical spirit of the '70s and with just magic itself, reminding me atmospherically of Time is Right from "Nightingales & Bombers" by Manfred Mann's Earth Band. In the finale the music reaches a culmination in intensity, which is also typical for the sixth track Sequence. The pulsating bass lines and the queer (somewhat metal percussion-like) sounds elicited from the electric guitar, which interlace with each other to the evidently hypnotic, yet laid-back drumming in the beginning, soon transform into an intense, ever-changing Space Fusion, which rocks in addition. What unites the said four compositions is the band's amazing capability to subtly accelerate and slacken their pace with no transitions to the other movements, i.e. within the same thematic section. The conclusion, however, turns out to be even more unexpected. The striking contrast between intricately woven softer textures and harsh arrangements built around aggressive guitar riffs, which normally just alternate with each other, lies in the basis of the aptly titled last track. Ratio is the most accessible, yet the most mesmerizing piece on this very atypical Jazz-Fusion album. All three of the shorter tracks: Sensus, Compound and Expanded are benefit performances for Nicholas's bass, the latter coming with plenty of 'redoubtable' vibrations in overtones, as it was played via the "Distortion" sound processor. Of course, these are less compelling than the other compositions. Nonetheless they have their own merits, their shortness or, rather, their logically laconic brevity included.

Conclusion. All the music on "Nullius in Verba" is primordially original in conception and was subsequently arranged without appealing to any conventional methods, which however is only one of the album's numerous virtues. This CD is highly recommended to the prepared.

VM: March 23, 2006

Related Links:

Buckyball Music
Nicholas D'Amato


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