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Aktuala - Aktuala CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.87 | 31 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Debut album from this atypical Italian quintet that that preferred a faraway folklore to its own. Indeed, this pack of musicians probably took the proverbial hippie trip to India and never really came back. Their whole quiet and reflective sound depends solely on Indian classical music and they do not try to change or modernize it as much as other "specialist" groups such as the British Quintessence or the German Embryo. Plagued with an horrible artwork, the group uses only acoustic instruments only, ranging from Western Sahara to the Far Eastern bamboo flute, but avoids the Indian sitar. The only non-conventional-sounding instrument is the saxophone, which does bring in the odd jazz phrasing to their spectrum.

Clearly lead by wind instrumentalist Walter Maioli, the group's opening track (the aptly- named When the Light Began) is a good acetate of Indian music, but no more. Mammoth is a rather strange completely chaotic music, resembling a bit what the Buthan Buddhist monks can do, laced with a bit of free-jazz, but it is little more than doodlings to these ears and it sticks out like a rotten thumb from the rest of the album. Altamira is a short descriptive track that evokes the jungle nights.

As the second side of the vinyl starts in the same calm manner, slowly drifting to an Arabian-sounding Sarah's Ngewha, but retaining an Indian feel caused by the Balala´ka strummings and accompanied with a jazzy sax. Maybe their better track on this album. The next track is close to Morroccan Jujube music, and IMHO only serves them to show that they've around (mentally at least), because it does sound as out of context musically as it is geographically. The closing Dejanira might just be their most personal track Cavallanti's sax providing a welcome jazzy evasion from the ethnic feel, with a surprising harmonica duet in the middle section

One can indeed ask himself the question of what exactly brought this kind of record, because outside the few personal touches of the group, there is not much to separate it from listening to Indian or Morroccan artistes, while not being sure that the natives will not cringe at their (sacred) music being handled in a non-purist manner, even if played as a homage. Nothing essential, I'd rather you either listen to pure ethnic music or that you'd listen to groups like Embryo or Quintessence, for the sake of experimentation.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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