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St.-Tropez - Icarus CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.97 | 16 ratings

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4 stars ST-Tropez was shaped out of the disintegration of Celeste, an influential Italian group that published the tremendous "Principe di un Giorno", a couple of weaker follow ups and then swiftly disbanded. Keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Ciro Perrino brought along his "celestial" mates Giorgio Battaglia on bass and Bat DiMasi on drums, adding newcomer Alex Magazzino on guitar (a noticeable Steve Hillage fan) and a female "space" vocalist Lady Mantide, plus a few others for both studio and live gigs. But contrary to the rustic tendencies of Celeste, the St-Tropez project was resolutely interested in developing space prog , more in tone with latter Soft Machine, Here & Now , Nucleus, the Canterbury scene but mostly trilogy-era Gong. Noccioline, caramelle, gelati" is an 11 minute space prog discovery, sibilant synths bubbling, escorted by some luxuriant percussion (marimba) in a languid sonic environment, sort of tropically upbeat and slowly growing in volume and stature, not the usual cold and gloomy space cruise. Space whisperer Lady Mantide does some fine Gilly Smyth/Miquette Giraudy vocal impersonations, chanting with unabridged intensity. Half way, the drums and bass enter with some propulsive pomp and ceremony, the voices getting weirder and wilder, egging on the stellar Hillage-inspired guitar solo, loaded with effect and up and down scaling, while Perrino adds some Tim Blake influenced synth noodlings, trilling incessantly with restrained doggedness. "Segnale Limpido" segues nicely into another voice /synth vortex, adding some male vocals as well, Magazzino doing another distorted guitar exercise, loaded with sustained folly, effect-laden inflections and loads of pedal board footwork. The drum patterns seem to fall madly into sequence as the arrangement takes a different course, synth codes pinging and ponging wildly, veering into almost Kraftwerk shades. The ambient and rhythmic electronics are certainly bewildering, morphing into controlled chaos, which by definition "space-rock" should be! "Il Laghetto del Cigna" is a tremendous poppier piece, with an outright manic female vocal, full of jaw-dropping "rising fish" guitar discoveries and a resolute chorus that drills mercilessly. The gleaming "Nella Cascata" blooms effortlessly with a solid groove-inspired bass riff, chunky drums bashing along solidly, with a surprisingly normal guitar sound, paralleled by some fascinating synth work, carving out a bright theme that is easy to grasp and enjoy, totally progressing beyond the previous material into an another realm and ending in a massive space wash of noise, as the birds warble in the background! Excellence! "Bollito Misto" slings into a marimba-driven premise where complex drums add to the salsa, a highly upbeat and multi-hued, almost hippyish, with a Canterbury meets West Coast hint, a frankly extremely satisfying affair with twanging guitars with hardly any synths at all. Very interesting. "Icarus" is an 8 minute interplanetary excursion fueled by Lady Mantide's gentle chanting, Perrino adding tender male vocals, the colossal instrumental break is now grandiose, bombastic in an almost symphonic overtone, again providing surprise and enchantment , sounding at times closer to Celeste than anything else, a voice/guitar hysterical outro crowns this piece magnificently. The longest track follows "Re del Deserto", a dozen minutes of sheer aural impunity, evolving into serious space environments, booming synths, bubbling bass buoys, bold assertive drumming and some grooving and eternal head music. The cyclical repetition is hypnotic to the ultimate degree and all I can say is give me more! "Verdure Saltate" is definitely more attuned to the Soft Machine sound, what with that insistent fuzzy organ reverberation along with nuclear drums and insistent riffing. The synth solo adds only a slight electro feel on top, melding with loads of percussive work, some cool occasional rhythmic and lead guitar stretches. "Luna in Vergine" leans more into the Hatfield/National Health groove, lots of Northettes-style singing, with some nervy drumming, resilient bass, sweeping moods eloquently highlighted by the savvy keyboard work, hinting at the jazzier side of the prog spectrum. An effortless guitar flight includes even more suspense and shoots outright for the stars, a simply amazing track. This legendary album bows out with a soothing synthesized escape "Il Lato Sconosciuto", severely in the classic Hillage mold, swooping axe tremors, broad swaths of six-stringed adventure, popping bass and sudden shift into another Hatfield Health romp. Truly extraordinary material and uncompromising attitude. For those who haven't got enough of a classic Gong fix, Canterbury maniacs, rabid space-rock adventurers, electronica fans and those who enjoy owning the one shot weird wonders, this is for you. Not a masterpiece but a definite oddball jewel in the crown. 4 nude Riviera babes.
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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