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Sistra - Bearing CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.05 | 7 ratings

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2 stars Italian band SISTRA is the creative vehicle of composer and multi-instrumentalist Fabrizio Di Vicino, who has been assembling music for this venture since 2005. "Bearing" is the first album release of this project, and was issued in the fall of 2011 on Vicinio's own and recently started label Psych Up Melodies.

Looking at the larger picture, you can basically divide artist careers into a few different different categories, of which two appear to be among the most common. You have the ones who have been toiling away for years, honing their craft and their material, and when their debut album eventually appears it is a stunning one. A production they never manage to best again for the rest of their lifetime. And you have those whose first creation is an imperfect one, more or less flawed, and whose subsequent productions steadily rise in quality. And while time will ultimately have to tell in which of these categories an artist is best placed, I think that Sistra may prove to be a case of the latter.

This initial effort of theirs, while not that impressive to my ears as such, does showcase a band with a great deal of talent. A production to be enjoyed by many people less critical than yours truly I suspect, although lacking in the finer qualities that will give them a strong breakthrough I believe. One thing is certain though: This is a band that merits an inspection by those fond of challenging music. The compositions demand the attention of someone with a taste for the quirkier side of music, their weaker aspects by and large ones of a subjective rather than objective nature.

Multiple themes and motifs is a general tendency throughout, and frequent use of distorted instrumentation and effects common features throughout. If you're fond of atonal details and non-harmonic features there are plenty of such to discover and enjoy, albeit mostly of a nuanced and subtle nature rather than up front and dominating. All and sundry wrapped in psych-tinged arrangements. Droning sounds, nervously fluttering fragile motifs and fluctuating patterns. At times perhaps with a touch of space rock of sorts, on some occasions venturing closer to the realms of electronic progressive music, but most times staying well put within a retro-influenced expression. Tight rhythms and excellent bass guitar are central features throughout, distorted guitars a core element on most tracks.

My personal gripes are twofold, and subjective at that. While she has a good and intriguing voice, I don't find the vocals of Gaia Vittozzi to be a good fit on this occasion. Ever so slightly off in the overall picture, in a subtly different tune to whatever theme or motif that is dominating at any given time. The echoing effect given to most vocal parts perhaps a contributing feature to my perception, but most of all I suspect that this is a case of my rather extreme sensibilities as far as vocals are concerned kicking in here. The opening and final parts of Psiche the sole exception to this, as these parts utilize her voice perfectly as far as my own personal taste go. A second aspect that I found to be negative are the case of thematic shifts and alterations, where I found many of the transitional phases to be too crude and the shifts to not quite fit within the overall scope of the compositions, resulting in a subjective perception of some songs loosing momentum and breaking up. The tendency towards a lo fi sounding production not always to my personal taste either, but that is solely a matter of personal taste.

But critical perceptions aside, there's also a lot of talent at display here. Those less critical of certain features than me will most likely find this to be a charming affair anyhow, as long as sophisticated psychedelic music is a style they enjoy, and even spoiled music consumptionists like myself should be able to find the occasional gem on this disc. My personal choices in that department Drunk Flight, an elegant excursion blending a relatively freely wandering bass guitar with various instances of partially broken and twisted electronic sounds and effects. And later there's Oblivion, an initially folk-tinged affair that incorporates an elongated standalone theme with an enchanting, psych-dripping guitar motif as a dominant feature.

"Bearing" is a slightly flawed album as I regard it, although in this case that is a matter of personal taste to a much greater extent than any objective aspect of this production. Musically we're dealing with a fairly sophisticated specimen within the psychedelic rock universe, and those with an interest in such endeavours might want to spend a few minutes of their time to check whether or not this is a disc that appeals to their personal taste. This is a talented band after all, and for the right listeners I suspect that "Bearing" will be perceived as a disc both charming and enticing.

Windhawk | 2/5 |


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