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Aktuala - La Terra CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.67 | 41 ratings

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4 stars Acoustic rhythms galore

When you've past that invisible line that separates the big bands of the Italian 1970s scene and the lesser known - then crossing over into the unknown, you quickly come to realise just how broad the sonic spectrum was. I've said this time and again, and will keep on doing so until people have tattooed this fact onto their eye membranes. Keep on digging good people - you're almost guaranteed to find something to your liking.

Aktuala are what I'd call indefinable. Their style, or whatever one wishes to call it, is soaked through in all kinds of acoustic sprinklings - stretching far across the world to implement strange endemic folk musics into their sound. Indian, Italian, Celtic, African, Middle-Eastern you name 'em - it's in here somewhere. What then unfolds is a somersaulting rhythmic concoction of droning mantraing surfaces that slowly but comfortably plays around with all of the aforementioned influences to create something entirely unique and riveting.

Krautfolk is the best moniker I can come up with. The band itself is rightly placed in folk here on PA, but when you first start diving into this thing, you'll find a sound that twitches and bobs like a slippery tap- dancing eel. The reeds for example are mostly conveyors of a somewhat breezy natured fusion, that, whether expressed through an oboe or saxophone, permits a wonderful jazzy touch to the sound. Not that this album in any way shape or form approaches jazz rock territories - for that it is far too acoustic and folk sage-rated. It's hard pinpointing what makes this venture so unique and special sounding, but I guess it's down to all of the different ingredients, and some highly capable musicians that democratically are able to play all of these exotic instruments, and implement them into a sonic framework that resides far away from their normal playing grounds. Again, a word like unique doesn't even begin to do this band justice.

I'll bet that La Terra would be the perfect fit for those old school music teachers that lived through the 60s - stubbornly trying to infuse that little bit of umph and joy into the current generation of gaming coma patients. You know the types of elderly frivolous men that still wear floral shirts and a big curly beard. They'll put this on in front of the class - hugely inspired and amazed by all the different folk instruments being played:

"Wow, come on people - don't you know that's an Arabian oboe duet-ting with a naj, a maranzano and a tamboura? - Let me get my magic carpet, real quick now, y'hear?!!!"

I'd be over the moon to have someone play this album for me. This is first and foremost a trailblazing record that shows what you can do with percussion instruments. The tracks here may all be carried by slowly strummed guitar patterns and the odd reed section, but what really pushes things forth - lights up the music like a big bonfire that cracks and writhes, is those drums. Xylophones, African, Arabian, Asian drums along with all sorts of strange vibrating echoing percussion features that will have your tongue twisting in no time trying to pronounce their names.

From the opening lethargic yet colourful rhythms to the ending cataclysmic, almost symphonic, stints of the closer, this album's got everything a grown person could ever want out of a mystical sounding percussion lead adventure in music, and I didn't even mention how good the jew-harp of the last cut sounds.... 4.5 stars.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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