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Garden Wall - Assurdo CD (album) cover


Garden Wall


Progressive Metal

3.89 | 63 ratings

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Music By Mail
4 stars I must admit that I didn't know Garden Wall very well until this album! Started at the end of the 80's by Alessandro Seravalle, the band has already released 8 albums so it's time to catch up! Assurdo (absurd in English) could be well described as the musical materialization of this special sleeping condition where one's flowing between dream and nightmare, with many of its aspects outlined here.

1. the vision of things is unclear or blurred; like the faces of the musicians pasted and melt into some kind of microcospic plasma in the booklet; or like the many whispered or recitated voices, English and Italian bouncing at times on each other; unreal like the many synthesized sounds or sonic engineering applied to them (reverse speed, quick flanging, electro soundscapes fighting to be some kind of drum track, etc...)

2. the whole thing is unreal; assurdo then? In a way, yes! Everything's possible, forget about logic; nearly every track is made of musical shelves opening other, of collages of sequences, the surprise effect or the abrupt changes being a must; the work of Garden Wall in shaping unreal textures or sonic backgrounds is just phenomenal! Distorded guitars, top-tech sound technologies, careful placing of the ghosts in the stereo field, a lot of work and patience! One bad thing to my taste: the death-thrash spit out vocals, which they call heart-felt emissions! I'd swear it is coming from a much lower part of the body and I don't feel their placement is really valuable, but unreal they are!

3. the scenery in a dream often changes quickly and without any continuity; so does the music: on track one, a spacy violin is pushed away by a hard edged sequence, later cut off by a guitar solo reminding in textures of Popol Vuh's Daniel Fichelscher; on track 9, swirling flutes give place to arpeggiated quiet guitars, replaced by a heavy beat and then another hard sequence, a guitar solo, before returning to quietness with flute, guitar and congas (another minor minus point in that I feel their mix isn't adequate, way too much upfront imo).

4. the breathing in a dream is irregular; and here comes a true tour de force! Garden Wall give you tons of odd meters, with a particular predilection for those built on 7 or 5. But even in a 4/4 feel, they use subdivisions, cross rhyhtms, accent displacements, a true pleasure to follow or drowne in. Track 7 is in this regard one of the most complex of the album; a 4/4 sequence with lots of displaced accentuations is followed by a 8+6 sequence, then a 4/4, replaced by a hard fueled one on 7/4, giving place in an even more syncopated one in 5/8. Hat off!

5. Awakening is the unavoidable end of a dream .... check the last trak!

I could keep up with finding further comparisons; Assurdo is a gentle nightmare keeping your soul busy or relaxed. To achieve this, the band has a broad musical knowledge and references at hand, the necessary tools to fix your dream: from the syncopated funky "Trasfiguratofunky" with Crimsonian guitar cross-lines to the Oriental flavoured guitar of "Flash" (in 7/4!), from a waltz rhythm fighting against an electro beat in track 10 to the majestic climatic ascension of "Vacuum Fluctuation", directly born from Crimson's "Larks' Tongues in Aspic " or "Fracture"; from a jazz guitar solo to the amazing synth and guitar solos of "Trasfiguratofunky; from the wild bowed agony of double bass to the depth of bass flute, from the meditative electronically processed vibraphone to multitracked bass clarinets.

Arpeggiated guitars, odd meters, recitating whispering or shouting voices, giving you cold and warm without warning are finally the tools that I found the most present on this album, an extremely well crafted piece of work (except those vocal fartings), maybe close to a masterpiece?

Music By Mail | 4/5 |


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