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Vedda Tribe - Vedda Tribe CD (album) cover

VEDDA TRIBE

Vedda Tribe

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.48 | 4 ratings

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seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator
RPI
4 stars Vedda Tribe was a short-lived trio from the Lombardy region of Italy that released a couple of albums before doing a vanishing act in 2005. They took their name from the indigenous people of Sri Lanka, who in fact call themselves the Wanniya-laeta; the name 'Vedda Tribe' is used mainly by Sri Lankan city people to describe their forest-dwelling neighbours. In spite of the folkloric name, Vedda Tribe's music is modern and future- looking and has little to do with the forests of Sri Lanka, or agrarian Italy for that matter.

On their 1999 debut album they certainly sound like atypical riders of the RPI tide and their setting of the Exodus, 'Il Passagio del Mar Rosso', is an extravagant three-pronged thrust of space rock. The opening aggression and tumult of ten riff-plagues leads to a leisurely wander in the wilderness, a passage of brief calm before the crunching storm of pursuing chariot guitar squadrons and the mother of all slaughters by pillars of synthesizer flame and red water licks.

The mind-altering hypnotic groove of 'Nebbia di Lilliput' is a more leisurely piece although it successfully maintains a force of giddy numbness that a vertiginous Jonathan Swift might have experienced. Burbling electronics steadily creep in through a fog of peyote-pipe smoke and Lemuel Gulliver can be pictured wakening slowly amid the detritus on the seashore, dazed and with bleary eyes hallucinating waves of tiny people in miniature clockwork spaceships and purple velvet bikini tops. The added momentum the track gains towards the end perhaps reflects the viciousness of the fictional Lilliputians.

Vedda Tribe soothe and vex by turns and they are more than just eclectic; they are nothing short of complete genre sluts. For example 'Hypercube' is like some kind of psychedelic bolero of metrical piano underpinned with a slide guitar mewing like copulating cats, while the goofy fury and jazzy kerfuffle of 'Democrazy' sounds as if it could have been recorded by a crackbrained addict possessed by the copper jitters.

The album flows calmly to a close with the nocturnal meditation of 'Etemenanki', which was the name given to the stepped-pyramid of Babel that was believed to be a road between worlds in ancient mythology. This song, the only vocal track on the album, is dedicated to the Italian comic book hero Martin Mystere but seems to be concerned with the pursuit of spiritual transcendence, a long immortal dream which arises out of a guitar riff that revolves, mounting slowly round and round.

Vedda Tribe's sound is far from characteristic RPI and it seems to be immersed in a rich sauce of space rock, jazz and Kraut. However, beneath that outward veneer, and thanks largely to their eclectic spirit and, at least in my opinion, a particular Italian preoccupation with religion, the ancients, literature and philosophy, they just about manage to maintain their cultural identity in the same way as the Wanniya-laeta preserve their self-identification in the face of cultures unlike their own.

4 Danish pastries for this one.

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |

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