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Aktuala - Aktuala CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.85 | 37 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars An Italian band that operated between 1973 and 1976, Aktuala, led by husband and wife duo Walter and Laura Maioli, recorded three sublime albums in their short period together, and all of these are to be considered precious, treasured jewels. The booklet in the CD reissue proudly states `Music made with prehistorical and ancient cultures instruments', and the musicians here perform in an acoustic raga-rock/prog folk style with a beautiful mix of world, ambient, psychedelic and drone elements, and perhaps even just the slightest of Krautrock sounds as well. There's very little in the way of actual tunes on this album, instead it houses a rambling and intoxicating assortment of freeform improvisations performed on a variety of ethnic instruments. The music on this self-titled debut truly exists out of time, a limitless journey and spiritual meditation through the corridors of your mind.

`When The Light Began' gently unwinds over 12 minutes, an ever-evolving flowing stream of acoustic guitar, sitar, flute and violin around a collage of ambient nature. It's sedate and softly hypnotic with spontaneous bursts of positive whirling energy. The repetitive African tribal beats of `Mammoth B.C' are suffocating and imposing, sounding like an impending apocalypse, with the haunting flute your only respite. Without warning, a mind-shattering explosion of horn-driven splintering noise shatters your sanity, exploding your mind with hidden revelations and now untapped ancient secret knowledge. `Altamira' is a nightmarish dreamscape of rising cymbal crashes that take on a serrated electronic harshness with ethereal wailing voices and frantic horns, creating a deeply psychedelic unease.

The lengthy drone `Sarah'Ngweha' and the trace-inducing `Alef's Dance' spice ancient middle-eastern market place excitement with dark jazz, brought on by trilling flute, rising and falling echoing percussion, a relentless maddening beat that takes on a lustful trance- like quality, culminating in a joyous searing violin whirling jig. Album closer `Dejanira' is an impossibly lovely summer drowse. A pleasing and gentle strummed acoustic guitar, almost in the manner of the lazy acid-fried Pink Floyd folk numbers from the late 60's, it floats around an intoxicating concoction of harmonica, sax, rising cymbals and chiming triangle - this is absolute musical bliss. The bonus track on the latest CD reissue, `Flauti', is unsurprisingly a flute based piece, but quite experimental in that it weaves different types of flutes into an extended mysterious drone that washes over the listener. Despite dating from 1991, it perfectly compliments the vintage material and doesn't sound out of place at all.

`Aktuala' can be enjoyed as an evocative background listen, or a spiritually stirring meditative experience as well. It may instil a sense of peace and contemplation, other parts an uneasy tension and excitement for the unknown. But it's never short of being completely fascinating, and it's a thoughtful collection of ancient styled music. Psychedelic, world and new-age music fans will likely respond most to this, but lovers of the more chilled out ethnic flavoured Krautrock bands like Agitation Free and Popul Vuh will likely also welcome this beautiful collection.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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