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Nichelodeon - Come Sta Annie? CD (album) cover

COME STA ANNIE?

Nichelodeon

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.20 | 6 ratings

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Man With Hat
4 stars Audio Visuals.

Or perhaps visual audio. Come Sta Annie? is a DVD capturing a live performance from the wonderful avant-garde collective known as Nichelodeon at a show celebrating the 20th anniversary of the cult show Twin Peaks. The audio quality is simply stunning. Even with my television at half volume I was afraid the speakers would explode at the most intense parts of the show. Visual quality is sadly not as excellent, but isn't bad. For shooting in a small, dark room I imagine its pretty good. Camera work is generally very nice, even though there are a few random/odd choices. (Although I suppose that fits well with the theme of the evening.)

With that out of the way, I can get to the real meat and potatoes of the review. This DVD adds the extra element that was perhaps missing from their 2010 CD Il Gioco Del Silenzio...the visual element. The band is about connecting art of all forms together in one stew. (This is further emphasized by the addition of a graphic artist painting on the floor during Nichelodeon's performance.) Obviously a CD will not have a strong visual element (aside from the packaging/liner notes), so this isn't a fault against it. But, the theatrical nature of their music lends itself easily to striving for (and perhaps at times calling upon) a visual counterpart to emphasize or strengthen the musical aspect. This is fully realized in the first part of the DVD, IMO.

Part one deals with tracks off of Il Gioco Del Silenzio. These tracks have a similar style to the studio counterparts, but the feel of most of them is changed, no doubt from the avant-garde nature of the music and of course the live arena. First things first....there are plenty of visuals playing in a slideshow fashion as the band plays. Sometimes the two images (of the band and of the visuals) are set on top of each other, and sometimes its just one or the other. The pictures are certainly interesting, dealing with alot of strange/random/less than happy subjects...bugs, skulls, atomic bombs detonating, the pope, and various "paintings" and video footage from somewhere or another. All the images almost act as a play with no people that the band is playing the music for. It all gels very well together. As for the music, there is very inspired playing throughout the six selections from Il Gioco Del Silenzio. For me, Ombre Cinesi (with its strong wind instrument use and very dissonant atmosphere), Apnea (a particularly strong version with great drive), and Cio Cho Rimone (which is easily the most spine tingling song of this set, with its dark, driving atmosphere, wonderful piano, and fairly apocalyptic climax) are the highlights, and surpass their studio counterparts. I also must mention that on Malamore e la Luna Claudio gives a stupendous vocal "solo" at the end of the track that is very very impressive. Thus, this ends part one of the DVD on a high note. And the best is yet to come.

Part two of the DVD is titled Passaggio Nella Loggia and is a live soundtrack to an episode Twin Peaks. This is a show I sadly do not know well, other than it is the brain child of surrealist mastermind David Lynch. However, not knowing the show certainly doesn't hurt the enjoyment from watching the band making some wonderful music. For the most part the music does fit with the episode fairly well, even stopping at a point to fully emphasize the climatic action on screen. As with the first half of this DVD, clips are interspersed with footage of the band, sometimes being shown simultaneously. And once again, the connection between the audio and the visual is well made. Musically, this is a different beast than Il Gioco Del Silenzio. This is much more avant-garde, much noisier, and a real showcase for the talent the musicians have, especially in experimental techniques. The voice, a huge part of the Nicholodeon's sound, is largely absent, except for the superb Prologue. The piano (the other very definable sound of the band IMO) is also less prominent, but still there. However, more wind instruments are emphasized (especially a strange and wonderful device known as the EWI), as are electronics and tone/noise generating devices. Not to say that the string instruments get pushed to the back. The guitar is particular gets a good dose of limelight, especially with an excellent "solo" in Part II The Bank. The viola also gets good workouts, especially in creating a foundational or textural feeling. Its difficult to talk about this work in separate pieces, as it all runs together and truly functions as a collective whole. But the general pattern is creating periods of calm and chaos, gradual builds into strong climaxes that bubble over and burst with experimental goodness and musical creativity. This is best exemplified in Part IV: Return Into The Black Lodge, which starts off tribally, tense, nervous (and almost jazzy) and finishes with waves of experimental flourishes over a quickly driven percussive and edgy backdrop. Truly the best part of the whole DVD, in my opinion. The show ends on a tense and almost demented note, a fitting end to a strange journey.

All in all, this is one impressive DVD. The Il Gioco Del Silenzio tracks are nice, but the real jewels lie with in the Twin Peaks soundtrack. Its really great to see the musicians spreading their wings, so to speak, and really having fun playing the music (and showing it), and really getting into this abstruse music. The visuals add a cool element to the music, especially in the first half of the show. (Side note: According to the credits, there are some interesting musical homages, most of which are very hard to detect. The easiest is a short sound clip of Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, which is pretty hilarious IMO.) This DVD makes me excited for what the band can do next. As with their studio disc, this is for fans of avant-garde/avant-rock/RIO and similar styles of music. If you don't like dissonance and electronic noises pervading your music, this isn't for you. For the rest of us, this is a wonderful document of great music. The second half is easily 5 star material, and the first half is 4 star material, so I will compromise with a 4.5 star rating, with an official rating of 4 stars. But don't let that deter you. If you are thinking about getting this, just get it already. 4.5 stars. Extremely recommended.

Man With Hat | 4/5 |

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