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Nichelodeon - UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar) CD (album) cover





4.27 | 27 ratings

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4 stars Olives

Fellow esteemed reviewers have already gone into detail about this highly interesting offering from Claudio Milano and his cohorts Nichelodeon. Fact of the matter is this man has been rummaging round the outskirts of the Italian prog world for nigh on a decade now - still very much the outsider. Hell one of the first times I spoke to him over mails, he mentioned this outsider status had rubbed off to the outside world - leading the cutting edge RIO festival in Carnaux to ditch him because he didn't make the kind of music they were looking for.

So he's not RIO or avant enough for the cool cats in France, and he's not close enough to the old prog rock of yesteryear to be mentioned in the same breath. Basically this music is outside of the norm - beyond stickers. That additionally means it makes it almost impossible to convey in words just how this really sounds......that is without resorting to the glib ways of nonsense, which I naturally am about to do:

In many ways you could say that Ukiyoe sounds like a series of disturbing lullabies handed over to you by a vocal sorcerer of the wind....or maybe this is neoclassical folk music with a romantic yodeller floating elegantly overhead?

No matter how you approach this bugger you'll be struggling with your boxes. There just aren't any befitting ones available. To me that is a good thing. Considering that 90% of the current prog scene is enamoured with a style of music that seized to be progressive some 40 years ago - again and again trying to regurgitate a sense of structural complexity and far reaching sonic and intellectual motifs, it becomes all the more important that people like Claudio and his compatriots actually try to focus on what made prog of the 70s so vital and fresh, although with a completely new sound behind them.

With over 30 musicians lending a hand to this massive project one could easily be lead into thinking that Ukiyoe is a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. That is not the case though. The tunes all reek of intimacy and acoustic instruments - like a small gig in a beautiful shrubbery with harp and violin players dangling from the trees.

For points of reference........hmmm yeah...maybe go back to the earlier glib descriptions - that's all I can say. That and then occasionally I'm reminded of the wonderful operatic lunacy of yet another Italian group: Opus Avantra. Whilst they were fronted by one furious woman named Donella Del Monaco, it's the music and overall feel I'm referring to here. The combination of wildly experimental, yet at the same time gentle and soothing, vocals and this wafting kind of modern classical music rather mimics or indeed reflects some of the same strengths as Ukiyoe. To top it all off throw in some electronics, carefully placed usage of dissonance, folk music that isn't folk, classical music that isn't classical, bongos, the sound of seagulls, the odd drone and........wait for it.............. a boat! -Then you're almost there.

In truth, there is no way on earth to properly explain how this album sounds, and I find that exhilarating to say the least. If we are ever to find the spark that once lit up the 70s in fire and flame, then we have to start looking in places we haven't looked before. We have to be willing to taste a bit of something new before we proceed to knock it.

I hated olives growing up. They tasted like an unwashed bellybutton or wet lycra socks, that is until I overcame my fears and tasted them again at 29. My girlfriend at the time were lying in bed with me - obviously more interested in munching on something indefinable from beneath the bed than watching The Shining with your's truly. She then kissed me softly, but instead of enjoyment and the subsequent hand down her trousers, I was repelled by the smell coming off her breath. WTF had she been eating!?!?!?!!! Yup, turns out it was olives. Irritated by this pseudo Greek lying next to me and the fact that I had to stay with her for the remainder of the night, I decided to take the plunge... 'Hand over one of those bad boys baby'...and wow am I glad I did! Not only did I overcome my fear of olives - I additionally got into her panties.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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