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LAGARTIJA

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Lagartija biography
Lagartija are a 5-piece band from Piacenza, Italy. They formed in October of 2008 and recorded their material quite quickly, releasing "Ricordi?" in May 2009. Originally six, bass player Fabrizio Maffei left the band after the album came out and now vocalist Sara Aliani handles bass duties as well. The band members come from diverse musical backgrounds and it flavors their music well. Sara has performed in choir as well as in rock bands. Guitarist Andrea Poggi notes post-rock as an influence. Keyboardist Fabrizio Delledonne has jazz and classical experiences. Saxist Christian Piga comes from a jazz and brass band background, and drummer Michele Molinari had too many influences to choose one. All claim affection for progressive rock and Radiohead.

Musically Lagartija are a fascinating chameleon who took my ear instantly. They are an example of modern Italian progressive rock with RPI sub characteristics and they possibly fit other subgenres too. While not obviously influenced by the classic 70s Italian scene, they possess the same free spirit of experimentation those bands had in an updated, yet still richly Italian-vibed sound. (Not unlike Il Babau I Maledetti Cretini, recent Arpia, and Architrave Independente in that respect, though they sound different.) There is a bit of everything here: rock, alt-lounge, smoky art rock-jazz, and a bit of avant-garde. There is lots of sax, some piano, Italian vocals, and dramatic artistry (they've even employed ballet around them as they perform live). One can hear some post-rock influence at times, other times the guitar can be more aggressive.

December 2011 sees the much anticipated second album from Lagartija. "Particelle" has been released through Lizard Records and you can hear a sample below. Keyboardist Delledonne has been replaced by a second guitarist, Marco Libe. The second album shows compositional and performance growth with a dreamy psych-tinged fusion flavor. You can get the new CD from BTF, Camelot, or Syn-phonic.

-Jim Russell/Finnforest

Lagartija official website

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ParticelleParticelle
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Lizard Records
Audio CD$21.99
Ricordi?Ricordi?
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Audio CD$21.99
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LAGARTIJA discography


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LAGARTIJA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.78 | 13 ratings
Ricordi?
2009
3.76 | 17 ratings
Particelle
2011
0.00 | 0 ratings
Amore di Vinile
2014

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LAGARTIJA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Particelle by LAGARTIJA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.76 | 17 ratings

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Particelle
Lagartija Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by BrufordFreak

4 stars Is a mostly-mellow jazz fusion-oriented album, in no way fitting into any RPI stylings despite the band's Italian origins. Like many other reviewers and commenters, I cannot help but add my acknowledgement of the extraordinary album cover. I'm really not sure what it is about, that photo, but it is extraordinarily alluring, seductive, and beautiful--and I am not a person who is attracted to smoking or smokers in any way or form. (Quite the opposite.) The album is flawed (not always so highly engaging) but contains several jewels that make it quite a delightful surprise.

1. 'Idiosincrasia' (5:10) opens the album with an instrumental which has some interesting drumming and chord progressions. I am not much of a fan of the saxophone but for some reason the playing on this album I find listenable and even, at times, engaging and enjoyable. (7/10)

2. 'Myths' (4:57) contains a blues-based rhythm section with some heavily treated vocals, an enjoyable saxophone 'chorus,' and some occasional interesting and odd electric guitar riffs and chord progressions. (7/10)

3. 'L'abbraccio' (5:13) is when the album really starts getting good. The opening drum and guitars play is quite engaging and then at the one minute mark we are graced with the awesome untreated voice of singer (and bass player!) Sara Aliani singing in a higher octave than the previous song. Awesome PAUL WELLER-like 'jazz' rhythm guitar play. The vocal "o-ohhhhh-oh-ah's" in the final minute are the icing on the cake. (9/10)

4. 'Tete' (4:03) is another instrumental that begins with alto sax soloing over the lounge- jazzy rhythm section. At this point it sounds quite a bit like the French band NEMO. At 1:40 there is a drastic switch into a blues form and style with the electric guitar soloing on his lower registers. Sax returns at 2:22 to do a nice jazzy/smooth jazz solo. The final 45 seconds turn into an ominous almost heavy metal section with lead guitar performing in a slide mode. (8/10)

5. 'Non si puo' cambiare' (3:37) is the gem of the album, a poppy, smooth, seductive journey with the band into the emotional world of (God! She sounds like Penelope Cruz!) I love the jazzy guitar sounds (and there are several different ones employed here) and I'm a sucker for any trumpet play--especially treated trumpet. The baby crying at the end is . . . odd. (10/10)

6. 'Sbrisiu' (3:08) is an electric 'lo-fi' piano solo by non-band-member Fabrizio Delledonne(!) It is performed in a European lounge jazzy style and feel, though there are also Sakamoto/Satie-esque sensibilities to it. Quite nice (though I'm not very fond of the computer program or recording sound the engineers or player chose). (8/10)

7. 'Particelle' (13:11) is a succession of three distinct parts played one after the other. Part one lasts two and a half minutes. It is a pretty mellow late-night sax ballad. Part two switches into a mixed meter jazz piece, not unlike some of the KING CRIMSON experiments for 75 seconds. At 3:45 the plaintive voice of Sara Aliani enters and draws our attention. Unfortunately her singing lines have to follow the chord shifts of the guitar and bass players making it sound more religious and more predictable and less engaging than it could've been. At 6:05 the song begins its shift into the final section with the 'radio' treated voice of some uncredited man speaking in Italian over the simple and repetitive bass and subtle guitar play (and, later, cymbols). At 8:05 the recorded talking stops and the band kicks into an awesomely hypnotic groove over which first saxophone and then treated trumpet solo away. Kind of PINK FLOYD and PAATOS to me. (Kudos to Michele Molinari: Awesome drum play!) (9/10)

8. 'Emilia Malinconica' (4:08) ends the album with a slow, sensitive song with Sara singing in the middle octave that we first heard her. Nice effect with the fast echo/fast reverb electric guitar strums. At 2:11 the rhythm section fills the previously spacious and a saxophone plays out a simple melody until the band kicks into heavy throbbing mode for the final minute. (8/10)

I want so badly to give this album five stars and label it as a masterpiece because its high points are so high, but, alas, there are weak spots'and several of them--so four stars is all it really deserves. It is an album I love to play over and over (and have done for over a year now). I love the singing, bass, drum, guitar and trumpet play and am quite comfortable with the saxophones, but it really is not a prog masterpiece. But I recommend this highly'it is, in my opinion, an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection. A band I will be looking forward to future releases with great anticipation.

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 Ricordi? by LAGARTIJA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.78 | 13 ratings

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Ricordi?
Lagartija Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars A young Italian band from Piacenza, which was established in 2008 as a six-piece act with female singer Sara Aliani, Fabrizio Maffei on bass, Andrea Poggi on guitar, Cristian Piga on sax, Michele Molinari on drums and Fabrizio Delledonne on keyboards.They recorded their debut ''Ricordi?'' in May/June 2009 at Mofia Studios in Piacenza and self-released it the same year.

The sound of Lagartija is quite strange.It is a modern Art Rock album with evident Post Rock vibes, having the depth of the genre but lacking their dynamics.The keyboard and piano parts though has some sort of vintage feel, coming from somewhere near Canterbury around mid-70s and featuring very smooth organ and especially electric piano vibes.This feeling is strengthened also by the constant and melodic use of saxes by Piga.Antique seeking Nuns often spring to mind while listening to Lagartija.Sara Aliani has an excellent and clear voice, somewhat reminiscent to that of Simona Rigano of Conqueror fame.All tracks have a very somber mood, being very sensitive and atmospheric compositions with balanced instrumentation, but the limited presence of some more evident electric guitars make the album a better listening for background music, despite its true artistic value.The overall result is good, most of the tracks have enough different movements to catch the attention of the listener, but the last and longest one is the only piece with some true energy.

I think lovers of more emotional and laid-back compositions will admire Lagartija's approach.''Ricordi?'' is a succesful first work by the group, which though has some space for improvement.Recommended.

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 Particelle by LAGARTIJA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.76 | 17 ratings

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Particelle
Lagartija Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. Man I love this band ! It's that melancholy that brings ANEKDOTEN, PAATOS and other of my Swedish favourites to mind that just sucks me in. I'm not sure why the cover art does it for me but it does. As Jim notes there are some differences between this one and the debut and he explains it better than I can, but all I know is that I prefer this one more.

"Idiosincrasia" starts off perfectly just like the start of their first album. Man this sounds so good with those vocals, drums and melancholic vibe. Kicking ass 3 minutes in then it settles back some. "Myths" has a full rich sound as the vocals join in. Melancholic sax leads when the vocals stop each time until they both come in late. "L'abbraccio" has some upfront drumming as the guitar helps out. Vocals after a minute and they will come and go. Sax after 2 1/2 minutes. Man this sounds so good. "Tete" is upbeat with drums and sax outfront. Drums and guitar lead 2 minutes in then the sax returns. It settles before 3 1/2 minutes to a dark mood to end it.

"Non Si Puo Cambiare" is catchy with vocals. Thunder and rain end it as a baby cries. "Sbrisiu" has piano melodies throughout. "Particelle" opens with sadness. It starts to build around 1 1/2 minutes then the tempo picks up after 2 1/2 minutes. Vocals before 4 minutes. Male spoken words around 7 minutes in until after 8 minutes. Great sound here instrumentally and the sax joins in too. So good. "Emilia Malinconica" is very PAATOS-like with vocals. it's fuller before 2 1/2 minutes as the vocals stop and the sax joins in. The tempo picks up after 3 minutes. Nice.

I can understand now why Todd has spoken so highly of this band and album after hearing both of these brilliant recordings.

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 Particelle by LAGARTIJA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.76 | 17 ratings

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Particelle
Lagartija Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

3 stars Lagartija are a relatively new Italian band and Particelle is their second album. Vocalist Sara Aliani also does bass duties here as well. The musicianship and singing is nice and well done but nothing really stands out. The compositions are well written and well performed but again, nothing stands out. A good sounding and consistent album that doesn't have many high points, but no real low points either. The overall sound of the group is a mix of the more melodic and accessible side of RPI with modern alternative/indie rock, particularly Radiohead, and maybe some post rock as well. "Idiosincrasia" reminds me of Radiohead. Nice sax (or is it an accordion? or a synth imitating either??). Good opening instrumental which gets more post rock sounding near the end with some sax soloing.

The distorted female vocals in "Myths" remind me of the singer from Portishead (can't remember her name). Overall a fairly easy-going and accessible song. The last minute or so which is instrumental is the best part. "L'Abbraccio" starts off with more of that Radiohead style drumming, where it sounds like a real drummer is trying to imitate a drum machine. Another easy-going and accessible track but not quite as interesting as the last song. "Tete" is a really good instrumental which sounds like a cross between Radiohead, post rock and RPI. Lots of good sax work here. "Non si puo' cambiare" is a more poppy and commercial track. The singing here (in Italian) reminds me of the singing by Ximena (in Spanish) on Omar Rodriguez- Lopez's solo albums. It ends with a baby crying. I HATE this part. I can't stand the sound of a baby crying. I'm literally that horrible of a human being.

"Sbrisiu" is a jazzy piano-only instrumental. The 13 minute title track begins with some guitar arpeggios and sax (or trumpet?). Some more post rock/Radiohead style drumming. Later goes into jazzy Italian prog. Sara's vocals here are probably the best on the whole album. A male spoken word part as the bass repeats a 6-note line. Some sax work near the end that sounds like the voice of a disturbed man echoing in the hallway of a mental institution. "Emilia Malinconica" is one of the weaker songs and is a letdown after the title track. Tremolo/vibrato guitar seems to be the only standout thing until the tempo picks up and the band rocks out at the end. Overall a decent album but don't expect anything too original or challenging. A good, consistent effort but not a lot more (or less) that I could say about it. 3 stars.

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 Particelle by LAGARTIJA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.76 | 17 ratings

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Particelle
Lagartija Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars RPI can mean a lot and the genre offers a wide variety of musical expressions.

Lagartija comes in from the cool lounge jazz scene and take a nibble at the left fringes of the RPI scene. Their music means a coctails bar, cigarettes, cool women with red lipsticks, piano, cold war spies and a big sofa. Lagartija really means business on their long lingering saxophone solo on the opening track Idiosincrasia. A saxophone solo interluded with some heavy guitars. This is cool music, man. One of the few RPI albums you can play with a lady in your arms.

If Particelle was a whisky, I would describe it as very smoky and peaty. That is what this album is. Very smoky. The use of saxophone is mentioned. The guitars is both heavy and half-acoustic too. Sara Aliani's vocals is excellent and really fitting for the cool jazz music on this album. Some of the music on this album reminds me about the Norwegian band The Third And The Mortal. The same mix of jazz and doom metal. And yes, Lagartija has some subtle influences from doom metal in their sound. That's what makes this album so peaty, smokefilled cool.

All songs here are great. I regard this album as one piece of music and do not want to single out a single track here. Although this album is nowhere near being a traditional RPI album, the RPI genre has finally given us an album you can play in the background while exploring the charms of your partner on a sofa. This album is spelled "make love to me".

4 stars

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 Particelle by LAGARTIJA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.76 | 17 ratings

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Particelle
Lagartija Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Atmosphere and mood run deep on strong second album

Lagartija are back with their second album and many in the RPI den have been waiting with baited breath to hear the results. It's yet another impressive release from Lizard Records who are one of the best sources for interesting new music. The band from Piacenza formed in 2008 and released their debut album 'Ricordi?' in 2009. Since then it appears they have traded keyboardist Fabrizio Delledonne for second guitarist Marco Libe, though Delledonne does appear as a guest on two tracks. The album compares well with 'Ricordi?' but there are some differences. First, the band's chops are tighter and the album has a better production and firmer, heavier sound when it needs it. Second, I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the prevalence of Delledonne's keyboards in their sound as he was a huge part of 'Ricordi?'s' success. Third, it seems like Sara is singing less in favor of increased instrumental play. However the reduction of these two pleasurable elements is balanced by compositions which are probably stronger and more focused than the debut, and playing which keeps getting stronger.

Describing the Lagartija sound to the uninitiated has always been a challenge, but the simplest comparison I can make is that they sound like an Italian Paatos, except Lagartija are more instrumentally complex and with fewer pop tendencies. On their first album I wrote 'While not obviously influenced by the classic 70s Italian scene, they possess the same free spirit of experimentation those bands had in an updated, yet still richly Italian-vibed sound. There is a bit of everything here: rock, alt-lounge, smoky jazz-rock, and a bit of avant-garde. There are tons of sax and piano, Italian vocals, and dramatic artistry. One can hear some post-rock influence at times, other times the guitar can be more aggressive yet still hypnotic.' That's still a reasonable assessment aside from the fact that the guitars and sax are now more prevalent than the vocals and keyboards. Also the 'smokey jazz rock' element seems more of a 'dreamy psych-tinged fusion' and overall things are a bit heavier, probably due to Sara Aliani and Michele Molinari's really solid bass/drums backbone. There are also a few tracks which move the band in a more accessible crossover direction.

The striking and emotive cover of 'Particelle' is a telling first glimpse of music which is a bit mysterious, occasionally melancholic, but never cynical at heart. One can only imagine what the captivating young subject is feeling in this moment but it recalls in all of us that certain turbulence of youth, often thrilling but sometimes very difficult. While I don't understand the Italian lyrics the music itself feels affirmational in spirit and pulls the listener into a somewhat hypnotic, very pleasurable trip. Aliani and Molinari lock together for a solid rhythm section both stealth and up front, inventive and light on their feet. Guitarists Andrea Poggi and Marco Libe team up playing hazy parts in unified fashion, creating the wonderful atmospheres which can recall a Mazzy Star/The Doors tinged psych flavor, with occasional bursts of energy. They largely succeed in filling the shoes of the full time keyboardist. Once the stage is set the stories begin with Aliani's soothing vocals on one end and the superb lead saxophone from Christian Piga on the other. On the surface it appears that Piga's sax playing has emerged as the most prominent attribute due to the frequent and extensive soloing, but that's not really true if you're listening deeper. It's a luxurious package of sounds with every one of the players crucial to the success.....I've listened intently to what everyone is doing behind the 'lead' instrumental of a given moment, and it's true ensemble playing which suggests the band members listen to each other and enjoy working together.

This is an early review I wanted to share quickly and thus it lacks the benefit of absorbing the album over time, but after 5 or 6 spins the highlights are everywhere. 'Idiosincrasia' is an upbeat instrumental opener with crisp, nicely balanced drumming and fluid sax soloing. 'Myths' is a treat which moves with ease into crossover territory with a sensual vocal, somewhat tense and slightly saturated with just a hint of distortion. There is a poetic feel to the text and a really cool instrumental chorus part after the verse, this very catchy drop off that instantly grabs you. Nice balance of light and heavy shading. 'L'abbraccio' continues the more accessible vein with a nicely crafted song, breezy and buoyant. I love the bass and guitar playing on 'Tete', the bass is so smooth but strong in the mix, and the guitars break from their controlled tension for some quick bursts of aggression. Fabrizio Delledonne contributes the lovely piano piece 'Sbrisiu', a well timed interlude, providing a breather before the 13-minute title track which is a real centerpiece. When I first heard the title track I was driving a cold interstate freeway late at night, my daydreams lost in the mesmerizing piece which sounded incredible married to the visual outside, of car lights streaking through frosty air, blurred by the cold and darkness. (I recommend a high volume for best effect, I had my own real life music video happening during this moment, and yes, I was sober hehe...) A long rolling and moody trip with some great Italian recitations at various stages. Last, I'm not sure what they did with the mics/vocal effects on the closer 'Emilia Malinconica' but they are so clear, it sounds like Aliani is whispering in your ear. It finishes with thrashing guitars in perfect Wilco form.

Overall 'Particelle' is a solid second effort which should bring the band a wider audience, highly recommended to fans of bands like Paatos, and modern RPI bands who flirt with multi-genre components. An easy 4-star rating for me. I hope this band is together a long time as I'd love to see where they travel musically in the future.

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 Ricordi? by LAGARTIJA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.78 | 13 ratings

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Ricordi?
Lagartija Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Well i'll join in with the same praise that Jim,Todd an Chris have heaped upon this Italian band. All it took for me were the first five seconds of the first song to stop me in my tracks and win me over.That melancholic mood with electric piano will do that to me.While the bio for them here states that they have influences from Jazz, Post-Rock, Prog-Rock and more, it's their seeming united affection for RADIOHEAD that comes through the most on this album. Female vocals, sax, electric piano and the percussion standout the most in this melancholic record.

"Primo Contattio" opens sounding pretty amazing, I just wish they prolonged the electric piano and melancholic vibe further along before the vocals joined in. No matter we also get some sax in this great sounding opener. "Istinti" opens with drums and electric piano before the vocals join in. Sax before 1 1/2 minutes as we get the same vibe as the opening track. "Monade" is melancholic with piano only to start then reserved vocals and percussion join in.The vocals and sound turn passionate after 2 minutes then we get piano only again 3 1/2 minutes in. Male vocals for the only time follow. Some guest clarinet in this one too.

"Sospesa" opens with piano, guitar and a beat as the reserved vocals join in. Organ before 3 minutes in this excellent instrumental section.Vocals are back briefly then the sax kicks in. "Ricordi" sounds so good to start as it reminds me of ANEKDOTEN.That changes when the focus turns to the vocals and sax. "Neve Di Nazareth" continues with the melancholic and dark mood with sax helping out. "Serena Danza" has these passionate vocals after 2 minutes as the guitar, drums, piano and sax help out. "Lacrime Inconcluse" is the closing track and the longest by far at almost 11 1/2 minutes. It's mid-paced with sad vocals and sound early on. A calm after 1 1/2 minutes then it picks up with floating organ. Nice. Vocals kick in with passion before 3 minutes. Sax then leads when the vocals stop. A powerful section follows. It settles with vocals around 6 1/2 minutes. Abrasive guitar comes in after 8 minutes right to the end. Nice.

They've chosen the ingredients that i'm drawn to with this their debut album. A solid 4 stars.

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 Ricordi? by LAGARTIJA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.78 | 13 ratings

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Ricordi?
Lagartija Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator RPI

4 stars Well, I sure wasn't prepared for this one. Ricordi? (2009), the first and only release so far by young Italian band Lagartija, is a perfect example of just how eclectic the RPI sub-genre really is. Mixing elements of jazz, indie and classical music, Lagartija could perhaps be described as a female fronted alt-RPI band. They may not fit the description of ''textbook'' RPI, but they do instead bring untamed modernism to the sub-genre.

The tone is set from the start with the trio of lead instruments combining to good effect on the mid-tempo groove of PRIMO CONTATTO. Shimmering electric piano, jangling guitar and jazzy saxophone provide the ideal bedrock for Sara Aliani's sensitive vocals on this track. The classically inspired SERENA DANZA is a beautiful piece, built around Fabrizio Delledonne's doleful acoustic piano. MONADE also begins in restrained mood with piano accompaniment and snare-drum rim taps, but midway through the song Aliani lets loose with typical Italian fervour during an intense duet with Cristian Piga's saxophone. More of that famous Italian spirit is evident on the edgy LACRIME INCONCLUSE, which meanders for the first half of its 11- minutes before bursting into life. The band's collective imagination is given free rein during the cathartic second-half jam, with some uncharacteristically raw guitar and an hypnotic bass ostinato.

This album's overall slow pace and laid-back atmosphere make it perfect late-night music. It's not a traditional RPI album, so it requires a leap of faith. Imagine you are standing on the precipice of RPI... now jump.

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 Ricordi? by LAGARTIJA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.78 | 13 ratings

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Ricordi?
Lagartija Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Todd
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano!

4 stars 4.5 stars for this modern RPI gem

Lagartija is one of the examples of outstanding modern RPI, a band that can take the spirit of the 1970s and blend it with modern expression and sensibilities to create superb music. Like the great Italian masters, they beautifully and honestly combine various influences (modern alternative, jazz, even some post-rock), all the while pouring in their soul--2009's "Ricordi?" is no detached, virtuosic display, but rather a heartfelt collection of beautifully assembled creations.

The overall feel for me is nostalgia, sometimes melancholic, other times joyous and exhilarating. I get the sense of walking through my grandparents' house for the first time in several years, seeing things very differently from my memory. The music is for the most part fairly laid back, content to let the listener get lost in the hooks, grooves, and riffs, not worrying about a pressured pace. There is abundant piano, both acoustic and electric, as well as other keyboards, provided by Fabrizio Delledonne. The fabulous saxophone, along with piano one of the two mainstays of RPI, is played by Cristian Piga. The tight, subtle rhythm section of Fabrizio Maffei on bass and Michele Molinari on drums is ever-present, never overstated. The guitar textures of Andrea Poggi are intricately woven. Finally, the warm, inviting voice of Sara Aliani is for me the jewel in this crown--it's a voice that rings familiar and does not put listeners off, really beautiful. The vocal lines are often complementary to the sometime dissonance, other times running counter to it and providing needed relief. Like the other instruments, Sara's voice is very comfortable with itself. Though the music is sometimes a bit unsettling, her voice very rarely is, providing shelter from the swirling sounds around it.

Every time I listen to the album, whenever a song begins, I think, yes, this one's my favorite. I just can't pick one. Each of the songs are like different facts of the same gem, each coming at the listener using familiar, similar perspectives, but each with its own angle. The longest is "Lacrime Inconcluse," logging in at over 11 minutes, and it contains some of the most ecstatic moments on the album (like the segment around the three minute mark, with Piga's sax taking over for Sara's voice, as the other instruments churn out some of the most emphatic music of the album). Compositionally there are some surprises, but the real strength of this album is in its ability to pull you in, almost seductively.

I hope the band has yet more to give and doesn't become one of the too-frequent one-offs in RPI, but even if they do they will have left a remarkable document. The album is available directly from the band, through Camelot Club, and Greg Walker/Synphonic stocks it as well. Seek it out. 4.5 stars.

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 Ricordi? by LAGARTIJA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.78 | 13 ratings

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Ricordi?
Lagartija Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars An enticing slice of life

I still love to be surprised by music and it's usually the lesser-known bands who do it. Lagartija are a 5-piece band from Piacenza, Italy. They formed in October of 2008 and recorded their material quite quickly, releasing "Ricordi? (Remember?)" in May 2009. Musically Lagartija is a fascinating chameleon who took my ear instantly. They are an example of modern Italian progressive rock with RPI sub characteristics who may have attributes of other subgenres too. While not obviously influenced by the classic 70s Italian scene, they possess the same free spirit of experimentation those bands had in an updated, yet still richly Italian-vibed sound. There is a bit of everything here: rock, alt-lounge, smoky jazz-rock, and a bit of avant-garde. There are tons of sax and piano, Italian vocals, and dramatic artistry (they've even employed ballet around them as they perform live). One can hear some post-rock influence at times, other times the guitar can be more aggressive yet still hypnotic.

The compositions are often moody and sparse, sometimes they are busy and upbeat, yet they are always fulfilling. Frequently, the clean electric guitars of Andrea Poggi will be strumming as a base point to counter the excellent piano and synth of Fabrizio Delledonne. The rhythm section of Fabrizio Maffei and Michele Molinari is self-assured while not trying to be flashy, rather supporting the songs. Sara Aliani's vocals are emotionally confident yet fragile sometimes, introspective, somewhere between Arpia's Paola Feraiorni and Cat Power. Perhaps the most overtly "lead" instrument in many cases is the sax work of Christian Piga. His presence is strong although not in an attacking VDGG way, but often a more soothing and laid-back way. The final presentation is a sophisticated, eclectic mix of dreamy tracks somewhere between jazzy rock, post-rock, and Italian prog, but never committing to just one dance.

A truly great rhythm of crisp guitar and drums coaxes sweetness from e-piano and sax in "Primo Contatto (First Contact)." Oh how I wish I knew what the lyrics meant on this album, because the music takes me places. Shimmering key effects gives a spacious feeling towards the end. "Istinti" layers a lovely synth over sax and fades too soon. "Monade" is a stunning track where guest clarinetist Eliana Cruz lays an intoxicating solo over an ever building stormcloud before Aliani releases the rain in a vocal that instantly conjures Sigur Ros in my head, followed by a lovely rainbow of harmonized vocals over piano. A fantastic, blissful piece of playing on everyone's part. "Sospesa" again lays on the heavenly piano with fine work by Poggi and Molinari in the pacing. The title track has some really clever change-ups and an especially fun, punchy little piano part that makes me do some "air keys" each time I listen. I must look like an idiot when I listen to this CD in the car because my head is swaying back and forth and bopping up and down. Strong playing and a hint of darkness permeate "Neve di Nazareth." "Serena Danza" grabs my heart and never lets it go, the piano in the opening reminding me of some of my favorite Italian prog like QVL, with a classically tinged, formal feel. The vocal and sax lay on the emotion to lovely backing chords. Oh, nice stuff, as the piano comes back at the end. The 11-minute closer "Lacrime Inconcluse" builds to the most muscular moments with even some monster looped guitar chugs that sound like the tanks rolling into town, and lots of spirited jamming by all members.

"Ricordi?" was a pure pleasure to discover out there in cyberspace and I strongly encourage this band to stick together and make another album. There is great talent here and strong songwriting potential. For a self-released project the sound quality and mix are superb, you can hear everything very well. The back cover photo was a real treat as well, showing family members of guitarist Poggi dancing in the back yard. It makes the overall package so much more meaningful to me when bands share something intimate rather than some giant spaceshape created by a media design company. The album is dedicated to Poggi's father who is shown on the album cover. This delightful little band is my underground find of 2010 so far, so I encourage you RPI hounds to track this down if you liked the groups I found last year like Architrave Independente and Il Babau & I Maledetti Cretini. This is very different than the "normal RPI band" but just as rewarding.

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Thanks to Finnforest for the artist addition.

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