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(73:38, Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Don’t You Find Me 5:10 2. Investigation 14:20 3. Suite No-3 17:12 4. Chi Illuminera 6:07 5. Adagio 9:03 6. Nella Notte Dei Mare Profondo 13:33 7. Una Folle Corsa 8:12 LINEUP: Luca Vicenzi – el. guitar; loops Marco Fortuna – bass, contrabass Fabio Gatti – drums, percussion, effects Francesco Agostoni – organ, el. piano, synthesizers
Prolusion. ZITA ENSEMBLE is an Italian trio, from the Lizard Records artist roster. “Volume 2” is its third release, following “Quintet Sessions” and “Volume 1”.
Analysis. “Volume 2” contains seven tracks, ranging from 5 to 17 minutes in length. Compared to its predecessor, this album is definitely an improvement. The matter is linked with two aspects of the band’s work, composition and instrumentation, of which the latter is unfortunately not obvious everywhere on the album by far. Zita Ensemble presents itself as a quartet this time, albeit keyboardist Francesco Agostoni, while credited as a full member, is only featured – at least as a soloist – on two of the tracks, Investigation and Una Folle Corsa (both of which are the most colorful pieces in the set, even though they strongly differ from each other: almost like black and white in a way), and he is, say, completely absent on some of the others. The most notable improvement concerns the band’s music itself, which appears now to be a lot more structured and cohesive than before, having finally found quite legible outlines. Okay, it is basically fairly groovy, most often avoiding distinct changes in theme and pace, and is repetitive in places, but all this isn’t too atypical of the style the outfit sticks to in this particular case. Two of the tracks, however, are very specific. Nothing significant happens within the first five sixths of Chi Illuminera (6:07), where there are only cymbals and two guitar solos, moving slowly, in a typically blues manner. Boring. The organ-laden Una Folle Corsa is in turn at least very beautiful. This is an airy, yet still fairly lush, symphonic space rock ballad, reminiscent of At the Gates of Dawn from Eloy’s “Planets”. What we deal here with otherwise is psychedelic Space Fusion (which, though, only contains rock improvisations, never even hinting of jazz ones), albeit two of the remaining five pieces, Don’t You Find Me and Nella Notte Dei Mare Profondo, also feature quite a few hard rock-based moves, with a spirit of the ‘garage’ style hovering here and there. The first of these is particularly heavy, and would’ve been comparable to some of the best creations of Hawkwind and Clear Blue Sky had it been somewhat less repetitive than it is. The latter is a lot more varied, additionally revealing a Balkan folk music-inspired theme (repeated a few times), while listening to which I have a strong impression that I’ve heard it before – more than once. Anyhow, save an atmospheric episode in its middle section, this composition fully meets the demands of the style(s). What unites the remaining three tracks, Investigation, Suite No-3 and Adagio, is that each of them stands out for its swirling solos, some of which are so-called loops, while the others are played by hand. Another piece with keyboards involved, Investigation, is particularly rich in naturally-woven swirling patterns, displaying the remarkable performance possibilities of both guitarist Luca Vicenzi and the aforementioned Francesco Agostoni. This is definitely the album’s highlight, often bringing to mind an idea of how mid-‘90s Ozric Tentacles and Porcupine Tree, early Pink Floyd and Gong circa 1973 would have sounded had they ever had a chance to jam together (utopia is the word). Suite No-3 is in many ways similar, but isn’t too deep compositionally. That being said, it comes across as a ‘mere’ trip into the land of imagination. While the music is little by little getting more and more powerful, it never reaches a culmination (just recall Porcupine Tree’s Signify in this respect). As for Adagio, it reminds me of Tangerine Dream, using loops instead of keyboards. Nonsense? Of course, but it works as a comparison.
Conclusion. A bit evoking the ‘70s LCD-inspired musical experiments, Zita Ensemble’s sophomore release might please all fans of the psychedelic kind of Space Rock/Fusion. If the band continues to develop their compositional potential, moving further in the direction they’ve laid on the best tracks here, their next album will likely be excellent.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: October 21, 2010
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