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Architrave Indipendente - Azetium A Otto Piste CD (album) cover

AZETIUM A OTTO PISTE

Architrave Indipendente

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.54 | 14 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A fine debut from Bari

Oscar Larizza and Emanuele Palumbo are two men on a mission. Several missions, actually. They are big believers in analog sound/vinyl and intend to release their work without compromise. They intend to teach the world a little something about the evils of destructive agricultural practices in Italy and elsewhere, and to promote the understanding of sustainable agriculture. The theme of environmental degradation is duel-pronged here with a parallel commentary on the state of the music industry, where music that is authentic and meaningful too often takes a back seat to utter commercial tripe, musical pollution if you will. Last but not least, they have succeeded in the mission of delivering a stellar RPI gem as good as the classics of the 70s. Oscar has been studying the 70s RPI scene since he was 12 years old. His influences include De De Lind, Quella Vecchia Locanda, Paese dei Balocchi, Battiato, Osanna, Cervello, Pholas Dactylus, and many others. He shares my own conclusion that the bands least influenced by the English scene were the most interesting ones. It is a common misconception that the Italian scene was just an imitation of the English scene. While some bands are guilty as charged, the great Italian groups may have loved the English scene but clearly created their own sounds. When I asked Oscar to describe AI's sound, rather than trying to worry about genre labels, he just said "genuine" and I can safely say they are on the right track. Architrave Indipendente's self-released work "Azetium a Otto Piste" is a warm and gentle feast of music that just knocked me out.

Oscar and Emaneule formed the band in the spring of 2004 when they were 16 years old. The idea was to speak about the social issues affecting their town of Rutigliano and to play live at festivals and nearby venues. Compositions began as Oscar was engrossed in a book called "Azezio" by historian/poet Sebastiano Tagarelli. The band has had personnel changes over the years but persevered to record this superb album on 8 tracks and using vintage instrumentation along with guitar, cello, and percussion. Oscar plays guitar, bass, synths, lute, glockenspiel, and tapes, while Emanuele plays piano, Hammond, synths, and flute. Alessandro Mazzacane (cello), Piero Palumbo (drums), and Stefano Renna on guitars filled out the ranks of the recording band. Gaston, canine of great character and wisdom is the band's mascot, and also contributes his nuanced barking briefly on the recording. Oscar recalls "the machines were: a FOSTEX R8 for multitrack on eight tracks, a ReVox A77 for stereo mix, echo effects and analog sampling, and later a Sony TC399 only for echo effects. Working on eight tracks was very complicated and wearing, especially if you want to give the best result without dirty digital tricks. We also would to use a lot of instruments to glean new sonorities, all acoustic and analog, or building them too: that's the case of my full custom DAVOLISINT with a homemade minimoog filter, oscillators and other artifacts." Other instruments noted in the booklet include descant recorder, Kawai 100f synth, solid state organ, electric pump harmonium, and GEM synth.

My personal description of the Architrave sound will take some effort. This is an amazing progressive blend of classic RPI sound with jazz, folk, and psych influences abounding. The woodland jazz collective Oregon come to mind although Architrave is much more fun, with just a bit of Tull, a bit more De De Lind, a bit of unplugged Deus Ex Machina, and a dash of Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast as the mood lighting. As Stefano Testa's 70s masterpiece is still fresh in my head I can also state AI brings that Testa vibe to my mind. Tasteful acoustic guitar passages flow freely throughout with vintage keyboard and piano accompaniment, the style of play ranging from prog-folk to almost avant-jazz, with occasional whispers of psychedelia. The vocals are very good with some nice arrangements. There are very sound instincts at play here, decisions to allow each instrument, each section, the space it needs to be effective on its own. The arrangements are such that these performances are not bogged down or buried into other stuff-performances are fresh and well displayed, particularly the many instances of fine acoustic guitar interludes, electric guitar leads psyched up with tape slipping effect, and my favorite: the gorgeous runs of plain old piano that send my heart aflutter. (I'm a sucker for piano.) "La Spinta" leads off with a somewhat conventional track, one that could even be a single I suppose, featuring some really monster bass impressions by Stefano Renna. After this the album will be less conventional longer suites broken into sections. "Emplecton" is the first filling the rest of side A with flute dreams, sound effects over acoustic jamming, some amazingly grandiose key excursions. In the middle section "Vassallo Ignorante" the piano is on full display and the solo is just lovely while also a bit quirky. The final section "Scherzo" features almost avant classical blasts of Alessandro Mazzacane's cello with strange keys and marimba is it? The effect is almost to put you off balance until it stops and another section of mournful, beautiful piano soothes its way in. (I'm even getting a bit of MiasmaCHH in this section, wild stuff!) The finale is a marvelous and climactic prog rock original.

Side B's main feature is the 15 minute "Azezio" suite which just blows my mind. Amazing renaissance folk vibe or perhaps feelings of ancient, lost times and places breathe in this music. Fabulous vocal arrangements both dramatic and soothing. Bold piano and soaring keys, washes of cymbals, shifting styles and eclectic rhythms. As Tom Hayes once quipped about Semiramis, it's almost like several different albums are colliding at once, and yet it makes perfect sense, being well written and executed. The middle part is an aural snapshot of Rutigliano, the town so dear to these young men, recorded during a summer Grape Festival it appears. In the final segment Gaston is immortalized with his barks sampled and morphed here and there around an acoustic piece with nice drumming and tape effects. Piero Palumbo is a fine drummer with a nimble touch and interesting fills. Following the "Azezio" suite the album closes with the 8 minute "Gli Altarini di San Rocco (The tiny altars of St Rocco). This track is a captivating experimental jazz (perhaps, God I don't know?calling it jazz always creates instant impressions that may not apply) number that simply sprouts enthusiasm from itself. The album was a 100% analog recording and is available on vinyl from their site. While not officially pressed in CD form, the group has indicated a willingness to make up a special CD-r for interested fans who may no longer have a turntable-you will need to make a special request for that and work with them. But the band strongly feel it should be heard the way it was meant to be heard and have taken great care in pressing their vinyl edition for optimal sound quality. If you love obscure and heartwarming RPI gems you will want to seek out this one, especially if you share the band's love of the analog/vinyl experience.

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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