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Vuoti a Rendere - Ruggine CD (album) cover


Vuoti a Rendere


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.00 | 9 ratings

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4 stars Is it 2016....

or the dawn of the 1970s? I love how VaR are able to capture the low-fi "retro" late 60s sound. There are a number of early Italian bands that predated the 72-73 explosion and released albums that were somewhere between the later RPI movement and a dark/heavy version of 60s beat and rock. If you didn't know the release year you could easily mistake this album for one of those pioneering bands. (Yet there is also an economy to their playing which suggests more modern rock influences.) The 28 minute running time is another charming marker of the genre, so many short RPI albums.

Since the release of their debut album last year, the band played Italy's MEI event for independent bands but seemed somewhat disillusioned with the experience. Their sax player Annalisa departed the band last November and VaR continues on as a three piece unit with occasional guest sax parts. On their second album "Ruggine" (Rust), the three piece covers similar ground to the debut but with less sax, and perhaps more angst. The mood is again quite dark lyrically and this feeling is enhanced by the somewhat claustrophobic sound they have designed.

I miss the longer, melancholic and meandering piano that occurred on the first album, but I sense the guys were pushing harder here and there seems to be a palatable need for the release it brings. There are acid-psych-blues elements that recall the vibe of 60s Floyd (think Nick Mason plowing away with abandon over organ and guitar, with those rolling drums, ala Pompeii) mixed with bits of later bands like Laser or Metamorfosi. Vocals and guitars are not so much concerned with precision as with experimenting and creating anxiety, tension, mood. There's a bit of where The Doors might take things if they were able to lock Morrison in the basement and just jam in a small club as a trio. What I imagine Syd's guitar may have sounded like on particularly saucy versions of "Lucy Leave."

I think the three guys in VaR love to play and that comes through: after you listen several times you can hear the great instincts they have for weaving catchy and interesting parts. Anxious, caffeinated guitars, sullen, murky organ, and that early, long-haired Nicky Mason style of drumming from his short-lived salad days. These are short, economic songs which aren't trying to compete with PFM's glossy symphonic epics, they are all about communicating in a much more direct way. They aren't trying to be "progressive technical wizards" for a prog-only audience. It's very personal. I love the immediacy. They almost bring a bit of the Minutemen/Firehose philosophy to their brand, although of course, in a far less aggressive non-punk manner.

It all comes together well. While some listeners may not find this band "prog enough" for their royal tastes, "Ruggine" is a really tasty little album that I enjoyed very much. 7/10.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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