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Nichelodeon - Bath Salts CD (album) cover

BATH SALTS

Nichelodeon

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.56 | 16 ratings

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zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars "This is the record of human revolution. Dedicated to those who are born or reborn in this moment." That is a line from the liner notes of this musical revolution that is Bath Salts. The second studio album from Italian avant-garde group NichelOdeon, who previously released a DVD and two live albums as well. Masterminded by the talented Claudio Milano who is a versatile vocalist and forward-thinking composer and all-around artiste. Apparently a concept album about "cannibalism in interpersonal relationships." The music here is different from previous NichelOdeon work. For one thing the line-up has been scaled back and includes different instrumentation than before. The most important instrument here (besides Claudio's voice obviously) is a harp.

Compared to earlier material released by this group, the music here is more accessible in general and very melodic in places. Don't let that fool you; this music will still be considered weird by most. Some of those melodies for voice and harp are just heavenly. NichelOdeon only had a real drummer for one live album. Here, many different sorts of percussion instruments (some quite exotic in fact) are used to great effect. While the music can be melodic and easy-going, it can at other times be more avant and dissonant. Generally not much 'rock' here being more classical, folk and jazz inspired with some electronics thrown in. Everything revolves around Claudio's impressive singing abilities with most of the lyrics in Italian. A few guests contribute (most of whom have worked with Milano at one point) including members of the classic Italian prog bands Area and Pholas Dactylus.

This is a 2 CD set divided into two parts. "Un Posto sicuro" has a nice melodic development and features a memorable 'chorus' part. Partly based on a traditional Japanese song. "Surabaya Johnny" is a cover of a Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill song with the lyrics in Italian. Just harp and Claudio's excellent vocal delivery. "(This Side Of) The Looking Glass" is a Peter Hammill song where the English lyrics are retained. It sounds very different than the original and Claudio recorded his parts with his head stuck in the strings of the harp. "7 AZIONI - Musica per la Carne" features Paolo Carelli of Pholas Dactylus doing narrations over Claudio's voice. Very little music at first but eventually it builds up to a primal, tribal atmosphere which features Claudio doing some impressive vocal acrobatics.

"Terra" has a full band sound and also has some of the best vocalizations on the album. Standout track. "Trittico 50 mg" has some great double-tracked vocals from Claudio - sometimes in harmony, other times in counterpoint with each other. Some interesting jazzy avant-prog style piano playing towards the end. "Johnny dei Pirati" is another Brecht/Weill song. "Secca in Festa - Lode ad Antonio Primaldo" is possibly my favourite track here. Such a simple and beautiful tune, very melodic and accessible; no avant anything here. "L'urlo ritrovato" is the longest track and features a female vocalist singing with Claudio. It also includes an actor and actress reciting lines. Generally the vocals dominate here with the music itself being more in the background until some kind of avant-jazz shows up.

Bath Salts was released at the same time as another Milano project, InSonar. Also a 2 CD set and even more diverse musically than Bath Salts (and featuring many guest musicians, some well-known to prog fans). Claudio has been involved in a few projects and groups. You never know what you're going to get from him. But one thing is for sure: you are going to get some well-performed and expertly composed music that at least attempts to sound different from everything else out there. One thing I like about Milano's work is that he is not trying to pigeonhole his music into any category. Is it prog? Is it avant-garde? Is it electronic? Is it classical? All of the above? A one of a kind artist (which the world needs more of), I will give Bath Salts 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |

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