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PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars The musical duo known as DAAL from Bergamo, Italy has returned four long years after their last album "Dances Of The Drastic Navels" captured the prog rock world's attention and unleashed another dose of their unique blend of progressive space rock and electronica laced soundscapes with experimental touches. Davide Guidoni and Alfio Costa have outdid themselves this time around by not only releasing one new album in 2018 but by releasing TWO! Each with their own style and explorations into different arenas of sound which they have been creating for well over a decade now. Along with the more vintage sounding "Decadlogue Of Darkness" is this unique 50 minute one track suite NAVELS FALLING INTO A LIVING ORIGAMI which not only shows how very much DAAL love NAVELS and ORIGAMI judging from past album titles but how brilliantly these guys weave musical magic into an extended continuous listening experience.

Of the two new albums, NAVELS FALLING INTO A LIVING ORIGAMI is the more experimental of the two and contains not only new material but implements sounds from the past that have been edited, rearranged and retrained to perform completely new musical tricks. While Costa is in the house with his usual plethora of keyboard, piano and mellotron sounds and Guidoni handles drums, percussion, loops and soundscapes, there are an additional six musicians, three of which contribute guitar alone, along with a bass, violin and a Chinese instrument called the ehru, DAAL deliver another outstanding soundtrack to a fantasy world that takes a whole parade of sounds that twist and turn in myriad directions and extend into a huge epic sounding smorgasbord of space rock yumminess. While always finding a way to expand the space rock and progressive electronic realms, NAVELS FALLING INTO A LIVING ORIGAMI finds this band tackling their most ambitious album to date.

This one is really hard to describe. It's sort of a free flowing journey through a multitude of styles and moods. While it starts out as an ominous electronic maelstrom of sound it quickly shape shifts into Pink Floydian inspired space rock and pleasant classically inspired soundscapes that rely less on the rock universe and more on the progressive electronic styled motifs that wouldn't sound out of place on a Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze album. However, despite the obvious influences that DAAL always incorporates into their far reaching musical approach, this one meanderings idiosyncratically in a seemingly random fashion through different arenas which spend a while playing out and then moving on to something even more dynamic without missing a beat. Examples include times such as beautiful classical piano runs suddenly burst into heavy rock oriented grooves with bombastic percussion only to cede into an almost lullaby inspired lushness accompanied by a thunderstorm.

While it seems impossible that DAAL could be more experimental than they have offered in the past, that should not be a scary thing as all the proper DAAL-isms are completely in tact just merely augmented and extended into a greater manifestation of musical mojo. All the space rock and electronic wizardry is abundant and perfectly executed in this outstanding example of a near 50 minute musical equivalent to a dream sequence that mostly floats along in instrumental free form glory but does include a short segment with vocals sung by Guglielmo Mariotti at the 45 minute mark which ushers out in a gentle acoustic guitar strummed finale. This is my favorite DAAL album so far and that comes after the band really having a strong series of albums that came before. The band is obviously not content on complacency once again strives to expand their sounds into ever greater horizons. This is highly recommended for prog lovers who love those lengthy epic sprawlers that evoke not only the greats of the past but find ways to progress into the future. NAVELS FALLING INTO A LIVING ORIGAMI is a perfect album in every way.

Report this review (#2042061)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars DAAL is the project of two established Italian prog musicians, Davide Guidoni (drums, percussion, soundscapes) and Alfio Costa (keyboards, piano, Mellotron). I've had the privilege to review their albums from 2012 onwards. Recently Daal released two albums. The other one is called Decalogue of Darkness, an instrumental suite divided in ten parts. Navels Falling into a Living Origami -- wow, what a title -- contains only one singular piece of music (49:27) in which the duo is accompanied by a bunch of guest musicians adding guitars, oud, bass, violin, and even a vocal section in the final minutes of the composition.

It's the third time I'm listening to the music as I write. On the very first listening I was deeply impressed and thought we're having a unique modern prog masterpiece here, an exciting, ambientish musical journey full of details and an intriguing spaceyness comparable to Pink Floyd and electronic-oriented artists such as Klaus Schulze or Tangerine Dream. It's experimental, but not at all difficult to get into, at least for an advanced prog listener. On my second listening that soon followed the first one, I also had occasional feelings of "so, where's the next breath-taking turn?" Of course it's too early yet to say whether this music will 'grow on you' or will it lose some of its initial charm. But my guess is that by the time you have learned the hurriless nature of it and stopped expecting to be continuously blown away by dynamic changes, you already have formed a certain meaningful connection to the piece. The fact that there are no movement divisions on the disc underlines how one has to take it: as a whole, free-pulsating flow, preferably with meditative-like concentration. If you're doing lots of other things simultaneously, you're bound to lose the 'plot' here and there.

I'll pick some key moments along the way. The acoustic guitar & Mellotron duet following the rather atonal intro sounds great. Around the 6th minute comes very Floydian electric guitar (played by Lorenzo Fasanelli), reminiscent of the early parts of 'Shine on You Crazy Diamond', then there are some astronaut's voices. The more rhythmic section comes and goes. At 12:17 enters the violin (Mir Khista), the music dwelling into Eastern-influenced slow meditativeness. The listener can just float there, seeing individual inner movies. Again, things get slightly more intense for a while, but soon you're back into outer space with slow and delicate piano melody and bright synth decorations. This is among my favourite parts, some minutes before the exact half-way.

And so on for nearly 50 minutes. Sure, it demands a lot from the listener, and since quite often the music lingers on and on before the next dynamic change (which can be pretty delicate too; it's not what you'd call a 'rollercoaster prog-ride'), there may be some tired moments along the way. But what's most important, instead of just building layer upon layer of various musical ideas, the musicians leave a lot of space for the emotional impact, which of course is very subjective thing. Roughly six minutes from the finish begins the acoustically oriented, mellow final section featuring multi-layered vocals of Guglielmo Mariotti. Being deeply psychedelic it doesn't seem out of place in the whole. I'm not very far from giving this work the full rating. Perhaps I'd prefer slightly bigger dynamic shifts and also some faster sections among the ambience. Nevertheless, Navels Falling into a Living Origami is a unique piece of art to be dived into, with all your mind and heart!

Report this review (#2047332)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2018 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars As much as Decalogue of Darkness sought to evoke the turbulence of sounds and atmospheres that once characterized the music of King Crimson, this 49 minute one track album slithers into a more psychedelic realm that showcases a definite cinematographic style, something Pink Floyd would do if they relied on the mellotron as their main weapon of choice. That being said , the duo of master keyboardist Alfio Costa and drum king Davide Guidoni shake the arrangements up by adding dense orchestrations, all sorts of sound effects as well as some solid Gilmourian guitar soloing courtesy of a trio of guitarists.

So you never quite know what to expect next, a constant, unending sonic adventure full of twists and turns, clashing serene with uncomfortable, always on edge. Like a palace of a 100 rooms, each opened door offers new dimensions': strange vocalizations, officious percussives, sublime pastoral soundscapes, buzzing waspy synthesizer lines, bruising bass from Simone Montrucchio, very clever 60's styled TV music (at the 18.30 mark), whistling synth spirals that whoosh into the firmament, I mean its all there.

Things can get quite experimental at times, very free-spirited until the drums kick some orderly direction into the mass, though Davide is way more polyrhythmic than Nick Mason. The mellotron does make numerous incursions, providing that surly and agonized touch that makes it such a legendary icon. At the 26 minute mark especially, the simple beat thuds alongside the sad piano motifs, the glistening guitar pearls wedged between murky clouds of uncertainty, urging a sense of incredible journey, dripping water notwithstanding. A lost violin scours the horizon, strings attached to its very soul until a Spanish guitar seeks to emulate Concerto for Aranjuez, a wholly unexpected ornament to an all-ready gorgeous soundscape. Shifting light obscured by clouds, thunder rattling beyond, wind whistling through leaves and branches and rivulets of gurgling sounds. Like a soundtrack to a travelogue, the music evokes Nordic forests, Asian deserts, lush jungle, searing skyscrapers, alpine behemoths and green valleys. The final segment audaciously includes a brief vocal , courtesy of Guglielmo Mariotti, also known for his bruising Rickenbaker bass playing on other albums, thus adding a semblance of gentle accessibility to the entire proceedings.

Daal has been dishing out great music over the last decade, the two 2018 releases simply crown this band as the current prog leaders in exciting modern musical manifestations.

5 Japanese belly buttons

Report this review (#2054598)
Posted Saturday, November 10, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars After a break of about 4 years Daal return to the scenes in style with two albums in contemporary "Decalogue of Darkness" and this "Navels Falling into a Living Origami". What is striking since the first listenings is that, while in the first one our two heroes remain in the comfort zone, returning to the dark and sophisticated atmospheres of the acclaimed "Dodecahedron", in the second they venture through more tortuous paths. In fact, the disc is a single 50-minute suite, in which the duo re-elaborates material already published, but totally rearranged, along with new material, giving birth to a deliberately heterogeneous work with a thousand facets. The suite can indeed be perceived as a journey sound, Alfio Costa with his keyboards is the creator of the various environments in which we are immersed, while Davide Guidoni with his never banal drumming is a guide within the sound world created by his partner. Everything works wonders, from the first notes we are kidnapped and catapulted into their sound universe, and in this regard I recommend listening to headphones or the night before falling asleep. The music itself is not particularly innovative, it's a mix of space rock, prog and electronics, the influences of German electronics are clear, in some points Philip Glass comes to mind, but the greatest reference seems to be Pink Floyd. Some passages inevitably lead to the mind "Shine on you Crazy Diamond", "Echoes "Or" On The Run ", borrowing from the English group their approach to music, the concept of sound travel, creating images and worlds parallel to music. All this they do not making a copy, but reinterpreting everything with their personality. It's a DAAL record and it feels! To accompany them once again a group of very good musicians, in particular the three guitarists who enrich and embellish the work of the duo, with interventions that fall perfectly in context, the only vocal part of the album is sung by Gugliemo Mariotti on the finale, and intones an ethereal and liberating melody, a sort of "Celestial Voice" of "Saucerful of Secrets", accompanying us outside the sound labyrinth created previously by the duo. I have always appreciated this courageous duo, this time I am fully convinced, that this is their best record and among the best Italian prog albums of the last year. A disc that although complex leaves you the desire to be heard again.
Report this review (#2080190)
Posted Sunday, December 2, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars The stunning and highly acclaimed Italian prog formation DAAL is an experienced Italian duo: drummer Davide Guidoni played in bands like Tapobran, Nuova Era and Ozone Player and keyboardist ALfio Costa in bands like Tillion and Dark Session, and the Colossus Project. Between 2009 and 2014 DAAL released five studio albums, two box sets and three singles. But four years later DAAL surprised the world of progrock with the release of two albums within one year, first Navels Falling Into A Living Origami and then Decalogue Of Darkness.

DAAL mentions that Navels Falling Into ALiving Origami is a hybrid project: a part of completely re-arranged published material, and a part of material completely unpublished. The album features one long composition (close to 50 minutes), divided into a serie of varied sound collages.

In the first and final part of this very epic composition DAAL showcases its appreciation for Pink Floyd: first with fragile Gilmourian runs (evoking Shine On You Crazy Daimond) and finally with twanging guitars and exciting Gilmourian slide guitar, concluded with majestic Mellotron flights. In between DAAL delivers very adventurous musical landscapes.

From a psychedelic climate featuring sultry violin work and an Arabian sound with the Oud (the father of the European lute) to compelling experimental work in the vein of Classic Italian Prog band Il Balletto Di Bronzo.

From fat synthesizer sequencing evoking Phaedra-era Tangerine Dream to an interlude with melancholical Mellotron violin, soft piano runs and fragile electric guitar.

From intense fiery and howling electric guitar with a lush Mellotron and dark synthesizer layers to warm twanging acoustic guitars and ominous Grand piano play.

And from sensitive electric guitar and warm piano work (evoking Eighties Camel) to soaring keyboards and pulsating sequencing, in the vein of Seventies Klaus Schulze.

Well, what an adventurous and varied musical journey, DAAL has made impression on me but you have to be up to a pretty experimental sound. Because DAAL is frequently scouting the borders between Old School symphonic rock, classical, avant- garde and electronic music, with many interesting own musical ideas. A band very worth to discover!

Report this review (#2109492)
Posted Friday, December 21, 2018 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars An album that is getting a fair amount of attention with most of the responses being glowing, it is interesting that this album was released simultaneously with the band's other 2018 album, the highly acclaimed Decalogue of Darkness--for which this reviewer issued a five star review. Navels is a completely different beast with one long, flowing collage of musical themes registering over 49 minutes in length and being given one single title--a whole-album prog epic.

1. "Navels Falling into a Living Origami" (49:27) opening with 90 seconds of ghostly whispers and crazed synth swashes and reverse-engineered swipes, the song shifts rather radically into a slowly soloing Mellotron and a slowly picked (later, briefly, strummed) two chords of an electrified acoustic guitar. I do not like the old, "poorly engineered" sound of either the guitar or the 'tron. It's kind of Moody Blues By the end of the fifth minute, this movement is finished, as noted by the bridge of chaotic cacophonous "crowd voices of clamoring metal trash" returned to from the end of the opening section. The following section is pure imitation of PINK FLOYD's opening section of the song "Wish You Were Here" from the 1974 album of the same name, but things evolve fairly quickly into the next section starting in the middle of the eighth minute after a brief bridge of astronauts-in-space chatter feels KING CRIMSONian--in a simplified XII ALFONSO/cinematic GOBLIN kind of way. In the middle of the 12th minute there is another cinematic shift into a section in which airy Middle Eastern sounding music like that of PETER GABRIEL's Passion: Soundtrack to the Film The Last Temptation of Christ plays. Hand drums and other percussives, synths, synth wooden flutes and violins flit and float around the soundscape. A swish-wash synth interlude in the sixteenth minute gives way to a chunky-bass-led more up-tempo section. At 17:00 we then take a turn through a radio static intersection before a slow electric piano-based section shows off some old, early synthesizer sounds similar to those heard in early TANGERINE DREAM albums. It's pretty if rather simple. At 19:40 there is another shift as Davide's cymbol play is teamed up with Alfio's ancient synth slow arpeggi. The nasal-sounding drones of Middle Eastern-sounding pipes or bagpipes take over the lead while a TD Berlin-School-like synthesizer 'sequence' establishes itself while, all the while, Davide plays a mix of rapid-hit, syncopated plastic-sounding and normal sounding toms (roto- or dragon-toms?). Is this their "On the Run" tribute? or "In the Air Tonight" blended with TD/Klaus Schulze? At the 24:00 mark everything stops and a new theme of ominous low-flying WWII bomber synth takes over the foundational sound before a weave of a repeating singular piano minor chord arpeggio, bass, Mellotron, and hand, kit, and programmed percussives slowly become intwined and interwoven. The presence of lead guitar comes and goes all the while the cheezy drum machine beat and buzz of the low flying dirigible hold fast. By the time the 28:00 mark comes, it is the dirigible saw synth that is alone holding it all together--until things begin to dissemble while an imitation ROBERT FRIPP guitar solo wanders around the sound field. Reverse synth notes, bubble noises, slow-picked electrified acoustic guitar, and Fripp pervade and then fade in the 36th minute as a two-sequence piano arpeggio takes over the forward movement. Kind of sounds like a take off on the "Tubular Bells" theme. Tensions rise as the key and chord used slowly shifts up in pitch, but then they've disappeared as a slowly soloing cello and synth arpeggio carry us into an electric guitar section that sounds like a variation on the adagio section of Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjez"--while piano chord progression and synth-generated and tuned percussives play an oddly discordant "oppositional support" beneath. Weird. At 35:30, a low-end Mellotron "chamber strings" chord-play section bridges us to a section of eerie, scary New Age synths and washes. Boy! the synth sounds used throughout this song are so dated! Makes me appreciate how far sound technology has come! More "On the Run"-like synth sequences and plastic percussives pick up at the 38-minute mark as they build into an old-video game (Atari Pong)-sounding "Popcorn." This, then gives way into a weird Schulze/Parsons-synth-backed "zither" section. Again, the simplicity of the music and solo is rather surprising with their very slow, simple, straightforward time signatures. This ends around the 43-minute mark when slowly-morphing synth-saw notes bridge us to a recapitulation of the song's second guitar-based section over which a highly processed male voice sings an impassioned psychedelic lyric while accompanied by some very nice COLIN TENCH-like soloing electric guitar. After the guitar solo, at the end of the 47th minute, more zither-like acoustic instruments are subtly added to the foundational weave for the final Nice melodies, harmonies, This is the best section of the song. The final 90 seconds sees us move into a multi-track Mellotron lead over the guitar foundation. An okay Crimsonian finish to a song that seems to quite minimally entertain. Though there are multiple themes and sections over the course of this 49 minute song, the overall pacing and complexity have very few dimensions to offer. (79/100)

All in all, Navels Falling into a Living Origami produces an overall negative taste to me because of its derivatives and it's surprising simplicity. Whether or not the album is intended as a tribute/homage to past masterpieces and their artists or as a seriously original composition, it fails for me. My reaction and continued response to this album is quite similar (but not nearly so violent) to the way I found myself convulsing in surprise and disgust at the blatant copying going on on another near-universally acclaimed album, the 1996 release from Swedish band EDGE OF SANITY called Crimson Glory. Whereas the music imitated on Crimson Glory was hard rock, metal, and heavy metal music from the 1970s and 1980s, at least the music here sounds as if it is imitative of mostly hallowed classics of Progressive Rock. Still, this album deserves, in my opinion, no more than three stars.

3.5 stars; a nice prog epic of vintage sounds and vintage derivation but nothing extraordinary, innovative, or so inviting as to prompt recurring return visits.

Report this review (#2110538)
Posted Sunday, December 23, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars So the album really begins around minute six after a kind of boring and overly sweet experimental pastorale like introduction. The blues like electric guitar embarks on a trippy and enticing prog/rock ride with some added electronic noises to build what could be track 3 on an uncut one track conceptual release by DAAL in 2018 and named Navels Falling into a Living Origami.

As far as minute 12 its easy to sense a less experimental songwriting, unlike "old school" DAAL, in favor of more friendly melodic lines and I suppose it worked out fine considering the appeal this album had in its days here in PA.

Around minute 21 there is a 4 minute intersection which clearly displays the "old school" I was talking about. Minute 24 marks the next "track" of this release with a piano/electric guitar based composition which take turns and build a somewhat King Crimsony mood although its finale runs a bit too long.

Minute 30- A two minute(+-) arpeggiated , dramatic piano counterpoint introduces the next section which could easily be described as Symphonic Prog with a blues oriented electric guitar which also serves as mid section before a symphonic exercise which actually ends up sounding less interesting without the guitar.

Minute 37. For those who like Progressive Electronic this 6 minute section will turn out quiet appealing.

After a bit of silence the last section appears. A kind of Italian version of one of this duos heartfelt influences, Pink Floyd, in between the Barrett & Waters era.

Now the crappy part of reviewing... rating !!

Would have loved to love it after all those favorable ratings and my early DAAL days enthusiasm but it actually stays short of 4 & 5.

3 PA stars.

Report this review (#2183964)
Posted Thursday, April 18, 2019 | Review Permalink

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