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Nichelodeon - Incidenti - Lo Schianto CD (album) cover





4.24 | 52 ratings

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5 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect]

In 2021, I belatedly came across a magnificent album by the Deadburger Factory collective of Italian artists, which blew my mind. This year (2022), I've belatedly come across a magnificent album by the NichelOdeon/InSonar & Relatives collective of Italian artists, which has blown my mind. While the two albums are very different in sound, both mine avant garde territories full of intense and extreme soundscapes, resulting in music that may be a challenging listen for many, but which I find I cannot get enough of. The thread that ties together the four groups who make up the music of "INCIDENTI - Lo Schianto" is one Claudio Milano - a self-described speleologist of sound, implying not so much an exploration of sound (that would surely be a spelunker, rather than a speleologist), as a scientific interest in the form and structure of sound, and the processes that can affect its constructions and appearances. Speleology is a cross-disciplinary field, and that too fits the character of Claudio Milano as a "designer of sonic geometries for theater/performance/dance/installations". If a traditional speleologist can be said to develop portraits of caves as complex, evolving systems and relationships, so Claudio has developed over the years his own portraits of sound as complex, evolving systems and relationships.

Another link to caves, to my ears, is the shamanistic sound of much of this album (which again draws me back to Deadburger Factory's La Chiamata, and the importance of the shaman to its concept and themes). If you have any doubt about the ubiquity of the idea of a shaman in their cave, simply Google and find a plethora of images and links. The polyphony (some might call it a cacophony) of Claudio's vocals could well be the echoing chanting of the shaman in their cave. Not that this shaman is alone, as over forty musicians perform on the album, within four band projects. It might then sound surprising that the whole is so remarkably consistent and cohesive. Perhaps because all are pursuing a similar vision, and probably more so because of the presence of Milano throughout. In fact, I imagine some listeners might well assume this is the output of just one band, if they were not told otherwise. While there are differing sounds between the four bands, and it doesn't take long to be able to recognise their individual aspects, all mesh together beautifully. Chaotic, atonal jazz, foreboding, dissonant folk, Gothic, operatic metal, and more, all of which coalesces into one breathtakingly, jarringly, exhilarating, radically eclectic, genre- bending whole.

The album's title recalls Porcupine Tree's "The Incident", which explores throughout how the words 'accident' or 'incident' can be so detached from something destructive and traumatic. But the second part of the title "INCIDENTI - Lo Schianto" ('The Crash') brings its own mental imagery that is almost cognitively dissonant to the abstract notion of the first part. That dissonance, and the alteration of perception that individuals can have about an incident or accident, is wonderfully communicated by the multiple vocal lines of Milano - who has an extraordinary range (spanning octaves) and styles (including some quite marvellous throat singing). The vocals of Milano will either make or break this album for listeners. I love Milano's singing, in all its extremes and eccentricities, and the breadth of emotions he can evoke with just his voice is quite astounding - even if one can't understand what is being sung. I resorted to asking Claudio Milano for the lyrics, so I could churn them through Google Translate, and thankfully he obliged. The lyrics can be particularly graphic, especially earlier on in the album. It's no wonder Milano's vocals are so tortured and anguished at times. It makes sense that the reinterpretation of a Peter Hammill song is one about repressive hegemony, and which serendipitously appears on an album most famous for a side-long suite detailing the aftermath of a crash.

"A Black Box" aside, the concept of "INCIDENTI - Lo Schianto" possibly couldn't have more relevance now; as Russia continues its aggression, invasion and occupation of Ukraine, for 'the crash' of INCIDENTI is the collapse of social equilibrium, and the fear and terror generated by this - of repression and murder, and dispersion of those who fall victim to it. The album is not as depressing as this sounds, though, as it is more about overcoming that aggression. Even the artwork expresses this, with the knife almost omnipresent - but a symbol not necessarily of danger and violence, but of responsibility and redemption. The knife in the target, and particularly in the inner artwork, above the head, along with the apple (again particularly in the inner artwork), could be considered an allusion to William Tell, Palnatoki, Egill, Henning Wulf and all the many other Germanic and Norse figures of legend who shot an apple off a child's head to escape injustice. The cover art itself is also somewhat reminiscent (if only to me) of Salvadore Dali's Autumnal Cannibalism, and its theme of dissonance in the face of the destruction of war. In both artworks, there are elements of tranquillity and horror, and in both an apple features prominently. Dali's apple was a deliberate reference to the William Tell tale, but in his version, Tell's son does not survive. (Less obvious than the whole apple on the head of one of the figures, is a peeled apple below, representing the death.)

All these words, and very little describing the music. But for that I make no apology, as this album is all about the words of Claudio Milano, and the creative manner in which they are performed. As great as the music is - and it is great (amazingly so) - it is secondary to the voice(s) of Milano. Apropos the Peter Hammill reinterpretation, as Marmite as Hammill can be, Milano stretches the listener's limits even further. But so long as you are willing to be stretched, the rewards of this album are almost limitless. Heck, there's even a snatch of the Smurf's la-la song, and no matter how many times I hear it (and that's very many, by now) it still puts a smile on my face. Each song on the album is appended "Senza Valore" ("without value"), which is perhaps just one more example of the dissonance and alteration of perception, as every track holds a great deal of value for me. And, for those like me who can't get enough, the longest track from "INCIDENTI - Lo Schianto" has also been released as a stand-alone single, with an alternate version that is as enthralling as the album version. I can very highly recommend this, in addition to the album itself. Wow! Just, wow!

nick_h_nz | 5/5 |


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