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Not A Good Sign - Icebound CD (album) cover


Not A Good Sign

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4 stars Not A Good Sign is an eclectic former rock band from Milan, Italy. Founded in 2011, they claim to be resonating melody and lyrics, melancholy and colorful music. They are composed of keyboard player Paolo BOTTA from Yugen, guitarist Francesco ZAGO and producer Marcello MARINONE. Yugen is a pioneer band and Not A Good Sign is relatively easy to listen to. The team name "not a good sign" is their reflection on global climate issues. This is reflected in their 2013 first year. For music, they tend to dynamically match the buffer and string ensembles. The mood is often Melancholy, lonely and desperate, a little symphony, of course, they also have very heavy moments, which makes them close to the KC, but also evoke memories of ─NGLAG┼RD and ANEKDOTEN. In this year's new album "Icebound", they invited David Jackson, a member of the VDGG, to play the flute and saxophone, as well as the use of violins and chimes to enrich the music. The violin was used in the 9-minute epic Hidden Smile, a bit of a pioneering feeling. The following Down Below and Truth can be said to be a bit heavy. The last epic was Trapped In. David Jackson's saxophone sounded, but the emotions seemed tense. Finally it was even a little distorted. It seemed to express some anxiety (for the album name Icebound). See, this is still an expression of environmental issues?). Overall, the first half of the album was relatively symphonic and approachable. After Zhang had some experiments, he returned to Yugen's old line, but the string and saxophone graced it a lot and could give a Samsung half to four stars. fraction.
Report this review (#1919808)
Posted Saturday, May 5, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars Preceded by the (un)usual original and funny anticipations, among them snippets and games to guess the album title, finally the third Not A Good Sign album is in my hands.

I own a limited edition (signed booklet and 'freezed' jewelcase ' I have the 46/500 copy) taken, as the preceding album, during the album debut gig.

As usual the booklet is evocative and well done, showing lyrics and informations about host musicians.

I have to admit that in this case I had a wary approach to the work, since the preceding two albums were composed by the pair Francesco Zago, who I consider almost the italian Bob Fripp, and Paolo 'ske' Botta, who is the real creator of NAGS project.

In this new album the most of the tracks and lyrics are by Botta and something has changed a bit: while the mood of the preceding two albums was a mix of ansiogenic, melancholic and visionary components, in this latest work the visionary component has been substituted by an oneiric one and this new component rounds up some edge.

You have only to give up your conventional concept of melody and let you bring into NAGS melodic unique interpretation.

The songs have kingcrimsonian inspiration, but the structures are more near RIO way of composing, with unusual rhythmic patterns, dissonant chords, joints which bring to evidence now a cymbal bell, now a guitar chord or a keyboard single key, latent derivative repetitions and plenty of ostinato and obbligato. These structural parts give to NAGS music that certain 'unexpected' component, that every good and passionate listener hope to meet every time he comes in contact with something new. Above all these wonderful constructions, are layed down melodic carpets and instrumental openings of high emotional impact.

The album starts as a Twin Peaks III episode, then it follows in 9 fashionable and high intesive tracks.

Some of them are short ehtereal moments, while the others are complex and long songs.

It's difficult to say which one is better.

Alessio Calandriello's melodic interpretations (here in this work he uses tunes less familiar to him) and the killer rhythm patterns of Alessandro Casssani/Martino Malacrida powerful pair, alternate with the amazing guitar and keyboard moments by Gianmarco Trevisan and Paolo Botta, high sensitive pianissimo and high intensity instrumental openings.

Maybe 'Trapped In', with Calandriello wonderful vocalism and David Jackson's sax, has some advantage to the others.

At the end of the game, 'Icebound' is a very pleasant and inspired album and NAGS show they always are able to find new musical solutions, even mantaining intact their powerful and dynamic unique sound.

Fun Facts: - Every new album brings a personnel variation: After the first eponym the bass player left; after 'From A Distance' the guitar player left; now it's the turn of the singer: Calandriello has left.

- In the preceding album there was a track named 'Not Now', in this new album there's one named 'Not Yet'. Should we wait the next one to know if or when the right moment will take place?

Report this review (#1931389)
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2018 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With this, the third album release from AltrOck band Not a Good Sign, we see some lineup changes as founder Francesco Zago has moved onto other projects and vocalist Alessio Calandriello makes his final contributions before moving on. Founding members keyboard whiz Paolo "SKE" Botta, bassist Alessandro Cassani, and drummer Martino Malacrida remain, while familiar Gian Marco Trevisan (From a Distance and live performances since 2015) picks up the guitar and some of the vocal duties.

1. "Second Thought" (2:33) opens like a powerful MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA song. Wow! What an album opening! It then turns more avant/RIO at the 1:30 mark. (9/10)

2. "Frozen Words" (7:06) piano and Alessio open this one before the band joins in with kind of spacious ballad- support. The band is using an interesting, very different, recording/effect style on Alessio's voice for this one-- making it feel more human, more within the mix than out in front. In the fourth minute the song moves into a more up-tempo jazz-rock instrumental section while plenty of odd vocal and field samples get disbursed throughout. At 5:20 things quiet down again as distant violin and acoustic guitar provide the only sounds--not to last too long as full band and Alessio return for the heavier, up-tempo finale. (8.5/10)

3. "Hidden Smile" (9:08) a rock instrumental that harbors some very familiar NOT A GOOD SIGN riffs within the keyboard, percussion, and guitar performances. I love the shift at 4:25 whereupon the violin gets a chance to shine. The music in the delicate slowdown in the eighth minute is quite lovely. (8.5/10)

4. "As If" (0:58) instrumental flourishes and interludes: something SKE excels at. (5/5)

5. "Down Below" (7:41) what a gift is the voice of Alessio Calandriello! The introductory section is followed by a very solid and engaging instrumental section--and then again by Alessio's wonderfully fitting and perfected vocal performance. Very tightly constructed and performed. A top three song for me. These are the heights that I hoped for when I purchased this album. Interesting "descent" into silence in the seventh minute before the emotional instrumental return for the final minute. (9.5/10)

6. "Truth" (7:13) opening with lots of layers of delicacy and subtlety--especially from the drums and multiple keyboards. Inventive chord progression yields plenty of inspiration for melodic constructs through the first two minutes. Then everything shifts and opens up to a more spacious soundscape to make room for the brief but brilliant lead vocal performance. A VDGG/Canterburian instrumental section ensues over which guitar solos and drums shine. Toward the end of the fifth minute things shift but remain heavy; this VDGG theme and style plays out to the song's end. (9/10)

7. "Not Yet" (1:28) bass, odd percussives, and odd key sounds open this one before the whole band bursts forth in a beautiful melody. This could have gone on! (5/5)

8. "Trapped In" (9:42) again, a VDGG soundscape is employed for the base of this song. Alessio enters with his plaintive voice with female vocalists backing him. The dynamic shifts from loud and heavy to soft and ominous are so well executed. A powerful, peripatetic song! I love the soft interlude in the fourth and fifth minutes--followed by a build up and release for David Jackson's sax. I'm feeling some SEVEN IMPALE here, too! (9/10)

9. "Uomo Neve" (2:32) spacious piano and incidentals open this one before a low chromatic hit of the keys ushers in an eerie, almost creepy section with lots of small-crowd voices flowing beneath the bass, percussives, and keys. Closes out with a return and fading out of the spacious piano from the opening. (4.5/5)

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece from an ever-evolving band of very talented composers and performers. Francesco and Alessio may have left the building but this solid band is still strong and standing tall!

Report this review (#2024156)
Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2018 | Review Permalink

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