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Adharma - Mano ai Pulsanti CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.49 | 6 ratings

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4 stars A modern RPI "one-shot" classic, and a free download

RPI fans know well the story of the 1970s "one-shot" band, those groups of young guys who released their lone esoteric classic before fading into the dusk of history. Well it still happens in the 2000s. Adharma were a hard working band in the mid 2000s when they got the chance to record a full length debut, and just like the old days, they had but a short time to nail it. And nail it they did. I'm so sad this cool band didn't last. "Mano ai Pulsanti" was a concept album dealing with criticisms of media and television, the relationship between reality and media-reality, and power. Their influences included the usual English prog giants Floyd and Crimson, modern bands Mars Volta, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Radiohead, as well as legends of the Italian cantautori De Gregori and De Andre. They personally remind me of their fellow Italians in Akt, as well as the Wilco of the "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" era.

The music is a superb meld of modern sensibilities and classic progressive rock atmosphere. Unlike so many of the 2000s albums which can be overly loud, overly dense, and over-produced, Adharma has an almost-minimalist sound, but one which is by no means timid or flat. This rocks and has bursts of aggression and chops, but it also has the most serene and poignant moments of space, where the keyboards create pure atmospheric highs. Stressing atmosphere over melody at times, the keys create a broad background palette where you can hear both Radiohead and 70s influences come alive. Electronic blurbs and washes work together with perfectly constructed runs of piano or organ. Rarely do keyboards grab me like they do on this album. Alongside the colorful keys you have guitar and drums that are both comfortable laying back or attacking aggressively. All of the other Italian pleasantries come and go as well. You will find your share of boisterous Italian vocals, heated passages of saxophone jamming, odd sound effects, and choirs.

"Per I Balli di Domani" surfs along in almost detached fashion for a while before the finale launches into pure aggressive, blissful abandon, with super-chugging guitar and raging drums over saxophone. "Colpo Grosso" embraces the avant tendencies never far below the surface in good RPI, with odd sound effects leading to an Eels-like dreamy loop. The 3-part, 12-minute "La Gabbia Nel Mare" is my real favorite. Starting with spooky keys and veiled vocals, it offers a mix of the beautiful and the disorienting. A nice fusiony jam of piano and sax comes. There are even spacey sections here almost like Kingston Wall might throw in. Again, it's the choice of key sounds that blows me away more than the notes or speed. There's great intuition for mood. Part 2 is a sound collage of pure violence and part 3 is also quite strange. The closer "Rue di Rivoli" is a perfect finish, typical RPI piano of a stoic nature backs some narrative vocals over what sounds like a dinner party in the background. It then jumps into a more muscular section with some high pitched keys retaining the common "dreamy" vibe running through the album, then slowly fades. I love this album. If you read this guys, get back together for a 2nd album!

This is one of those fantastic obscure gems which every RPI fan should grab before it disappears. There is no CD. It is offered as a free download or stream here:

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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