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Garamond - Quant'Altro CD (album) cover





3.78 | 13 ratings

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4 stars It's so noisy at the fair...

Garamond is an amazing band from Ancona, Italy. Their first album on Lizard Records is a collection of their work from 2001-2005 and feels remarkably sophisticated considering the tender age they were back then. (Most of the members were born in the early 80s). The most obvious initial comparison that pops into my head with Garamond is an updated version of the legendary Opus Avantra, but Garamond are not pigeonholed by any easy name dropping. I would also say I hear or feel bits of Zappa, Yugen, SADO, Gentle Giant, Area, chamber prog like Gatto Marte but with more attitude injected throughout. This is refreshing, sometimes insane, sometimes beautiful, and always FUN stuff!

Their work is like a day at the summer carnival after a few hits. So many strange sites and sounds. Exotic lights, strange people, scary rides, and multi-coloured sweets drinks from the vendors---and it gets better at night when the moon comes up and the young couples shine and the bands sweat. The tracks are superbly composed to juggle the high talent levels of the musicians. They glide around each other like trapeze artists, the keyboards of Danilo Orlandini creating the atmospheres for the tight rhythm section of Riccardo Soleni on bass and Diego Vitaioli on drums. The spice ingredients are coming from piano and violin at times, but more often the lead is taken by tenor saxophonist Giovanni Breccia. He's all over the place, at times creating a more relaxed vibe and other time pure craziness. A special acclaim must go to the lovely and talented Laura Agostinelli who makes Garamond extra special. She has amazing control of her voice, capable of sweetness and range, but also of getting experimental ala Stratos with strange guttural noises, wild banter, and mysterious character voices. Her work on "Drazil" is just splendid-makes me smile every time! Most of the tracks are written by Olandini, with lyrics mostly by Agostinelli, and arrangements shared by the group.

So cast your cares away and go from soothing chamber prog to intense avant-fusion to experimental spacetronica in short order! Even among purveyors of the avant music styles Garamond find something outside the box, yet the results remain pleasantly listenable even though challenging. I'm not someone who appreciates weirdness for the sake of it, I need the challenging stuff to retain that element of warmth that makes me care. Garamond covers those bases. The 15 minute opener "Nel Sogno di Otfon Brunzig" is the coolest concoction of lovely violin (Cristiano Giuseppetti) with Laura putting forth her most formal vocal, the track moves from place to place like film scenes. Occasional bursts of energy punctuated with sax are later soothed with piano, the vocal moving from pure beauty to moments from a Fellini film. Drummer Vitaioli drives the frenetic portions masterfully with controlled tension. In "La Saga Degli Immaginari" a relatively pretty, peaceful beginning falls into a surreal interlude with a cacophony of strange babblings, almost like a mind drifting in and out of reality. The entire album maintains the quality, the affirmation of joy for music, and the lack of inhibition to try anything, even if the occasional juggling pin is dropped in the process. Very few are! The short closer features some delightful piano from guest Elena Montali. A strange, incomplete ending which leaves one dying to know what's behind the next curtain--but alas, the carnival has pulled up stakes and headed for the next village.

I suppose the only criticism I have is that the CD does sometimes sound like a collection of tracks as opposed to connected work, which makes sense as they were created over a period of time. It doesn't degrade the recording, but it does make me want to hear what they could do in a short period of time concentrating on unified pieces of music. The Garamond CD is stunning achievement for this young band and is nearly essential for Avant fans and adventurous RPI fans alike. Highly recommended---it makes the special shelf on my RPI wall. I do hope we hear from this band again. If I were one of the Italian prog labels, I'd be falling all over myself to handle their next album.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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