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Lagartija - Ricordi? CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.76 | 18 ratings

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4 stars An enticing slice of life

I still love to be surprised by music and it's usually the lesser-known bands who do it. Lagartija are a 5-piece band from Piacenza, Italy. They formed in October of 2008 and recorded their material quite quickly, releasing "Ricordi? (Remember?)" in May 2009. Musically Lagartija is a fascinating chameleon who took my ear instantly. They are an example of modern Italian progressive rock with RPI sub characteristics who may have attributes of other subgenres too. While not obviously influenced by the classic 70s Italian scene, they possess the same free spirit of experimentation those bands had in an updated, yet still richly Italian-vibed sound. There is a bit of everything here: rock, alt-lounge, smoky jazz-rock, and a bit of avant-garde. There are tons of sax and piano, Italian vocals, and dramatic artistry (they've even employed ballet around them as they perform live). One can hear some post-rock influence at times, other times the guitar can be more aggressive yet still hypnotic.

The compositions are often moody and sparse, sometimes they are busy and upbeat, yet they are always fulfilling. Frequently, the clean electric guitars of Andrea Poggi will be strumming as a base point to counter the excellent piano and synth of Fabrizio Delledonne. The rhythm section of Fabrizio Maffei and Michele Molinari is self-assured while not trying to be flashy, rather supporting the songs. Sara Aliani's vocals are emotionally confident yet fragile sometimes, introspective, somewhere between Arpia's Paola Feraiorni and Cat Power. Perhaps the most overtly "lead" instrument in many cases is the sax work of Christian Piga. His presence is strong although not in an attacking VDGG way, but often a more soothing and laid-back way. The final presentation is a sophisticated, eclectic mix of dreamy tracks somewhere between jazzy rock, post-rock, and Italian prog, but never committing to just one dance.

A truly great rhythm of crisp guitar and drums coaxes sweetness from e-piano and sax in "Primo Contatto (First Contact)." Oh how I wish I knew what the lyrics meant on this album, because the music takes me places. Shimmering key effects gives a spacious feeling towards the end. "Istinti" layers a lovely synth over sax and fades too soon. "Monade" is a stunning track where guest clarinetist Eliana Cruz lays an intoxicating solo over an ever building stormcloud before Aliani releases the rain in a vocal that instantly conjures Sigur Ros in my head, followed by a lovely rainbow of harmonized vocals over piano. A fantastic, blissful piece of playing on everyone's part. "Sospesa" again lays on the heavenly piano with fine work by Poggi and Molinari in the pacing. The title track has some really clever change-ups and an especially fun, punchy little piano part that makes me do some "air keys" each time I listen. I must look like an idiot when I listen to this CD in the car because my head is swaying back and forth and bopping up and down. Strong playing and a hint of darkness permeate "Neve di Nazareth." "Serena Danza" grabs my heart and never lets it go, the piano in the opening reminding me of some of my favorite Italian prog like QVL, with a classically tinged, formal feel. The vocal and sax lay on the emotion to lovely backing chords. Oh, nice stuff, as the piano comes back at the end. The 11-minute closer "Lacrime Inconcluse" builds to the most muscular moments with even some monster looped guitar chugs that sound like the tanks rolling into town, and lots of spirited jamming by all members.

"Ricordi?" was a pure pleasure to discover out there in cyberspace and I strongly encourage this band to stick together and make another album. There is great talent here and strong songwriting potential. For a self-released project the sound quality and mix are superb, you can hear everything very well. The back cover photo was a real treat as well, showing family members of guitarist Poggi dancing in the back yard. It makes the overall package so much more meaningful to me when bands share something intimate rather than some giant spaceshape created by a media design company. The album is dedicated to Poggi's father who is shown on the album cover. This delightful little band is my underground find of 2010 so far, so I encourage you RPI hounds to track this down if you liked the groups I found last year like Architrave Independente and Il Babau & I Maledetti Cretini. This is very different than the "normal RPI band" but just as rewarding.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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