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Daal - Dances Of The Drastic Navels CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.02 | 207 ratings

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5 stars You have to hand it to the Italians, they are a crafty bunch, always looking to provide fun, pleasure and emotion in whatever they decide to sink their talents into. Cooking, fashion, cars, design, footy, wine, architecture and of course, music. So veteran RPI masters Alfio Costa of Tilion and Prowlers fame and drum maestro Davide Guidoni (Taproban, Nuova Era, Aries and Gallant Farm) searched out a niche for their deepest creative urges, effectively combining sweeping electronics in the Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, JM Jarre mode and infusing them with symphonic prog, a dab of gothic ambient and some old school King Crimson motifs that, all combined in a bartender's shaker, provides a heady cocktail of astounding sounds and amazing music. The result is an original take on soundtrack panoramas, mind music of the highest order and an intense, I daresay, explorative demeanor. Dodecahedron was a masterpiece but all the Daal albums are impressive, including remakes of Pink Floyd's classic 'Echoes', and Pain of Salvation's "Undertow", ballsy and successful moves indeed! Daal is rapidly becoming a personal all-time favorite for many prog fans, yours truly on the front lines. On board are some amazing guests , the trustworthy return of marvelous guitarist Ettore Salati (The Watch, The Redzen, SoulenginE) is only trumped by the vocal presence of Tirill Mohn of White Willow fame, as well as Bobo Aiolfi on bass (a Tilion pal) . Alfio Costa handles a vast arsenal of analog and digital keyboards, uniting the Froese with the Wakeman. The mood has always been dark, brooding and hinging on evil, loaded with despair, perspiration and palpable fear, it's actually quite hard to explain or categorize.

So the mood on this strangely titled disc gets even more sombre, a spectral world of surrealism, abstract emotions and a visceral sense of suspended animation. The devilish "Malleus Maleficarum" has all these attributes in copious amounts, slashed by a lightning Ettore Salati guitar rampage. Like some fugitive train, the gruesome pulse seems both controlled and rather haywire, as if to underline the sheer audacity of playing such a style of cinematographic prog. Alfio's various sleek electronics provide an utterly modern sheen, soundtrack to some suspenseful movie. Davide shows little pity on the drum kit and Bobo follows along, smiling as his instrument rumbles mightily. Unsettling, slightly menacing and totally brilliant.

The wily titled "Elektra" suggests all manners of fantasy, a misty unfurling of swooning ambient sound that gradually involves a stylized rhythmic track, paralleled by Salati's urgent axe scouring the heavens, then followed by an assortment of synthesized gurgles, rasps, collisions and detours. Cripplingly mind-altering, the mood merges Pink Floyd's ambient ruminations with a harder edged Wagnerian psychosis that is wholly original. The insistent piano chaperones the exalted fret board most convincingly, waltzing frenetically into some unknown void. I feel this is all so disturbing!

In contrast to all the heroic Sturm und Drang, "Lilith" extols the virtues of a more sensually romantic direction, fueled by a repetitive Chopin-like piano sequence that screams both splendor and sorrow. This gentle 'berceuse' swings back and forth serenely and while highly romantic, the music remains firmly slotted on an underbelly of palpable angst. The vivacious guitar repeats the theme, ultimately veering back to piano, mellow cello and military snare drum as it evaporates into the clouds. This is perfect.

La piece de resistance is the title track, a monstrous affair that spans nearly 24 minutes, "Dances of Drastic Navels", a slow burn entrée that infuses a wide variety of effects, enough sampled distant voices, shudders, pants, clicks and beeps to fill a sound gallery. The Gothic straight jacket guitar has an ominous tone, the piano remains chaotic and slivers of synthesized spittle adorn the echoing drumbeats, the progression stays laborious and unhurried. The second part involves even more weird sweeping electronics, dense mellotron carpets and that aggressive low guitar tone that recalls Mick Ronson, though in an obviously more sinister environment than the Spiders from Mars! The perverted piano asserts the degenerative illusion of something going gradually bonkers, the feverish mood is impeccably classic King Crimson inspired, while the sequencer- crazy synths offer up a near Klaus Schulze/Tangerine Dream feel, less Teutonic and way more insanity- oriented. The final section reverts to shimmering beauty ,after dealing with the nasty beast and shows clearly that Daal can master both extremes, perhaps even boldly going even further into the depths of such a 'starless' universe. Tranquility returns in the guise of an achingly gorgeous piano, entwined with the most subtle mellotron I have ever heard. The mighty string machine flickers along majestically, Salati pointing his guitar gun and firing in semi-automatic mode and Costa pushing the ivories along. Astonishing yet also disconcerting stuff!

Just when one expects another tenebrous arrivederci, the Daal crew set out to completely astound with a piece that is out of context though not necessarily out of character, the sweeping melancholia of "Inside You" will have you scurrying to find your misplaced jaw, accidentally kicked in all the commotion, to the trash-infested curb. Tirill Mohn of White Willow and solo fame, takes over the microphone with her panting and sensual voice, with the mission to thoroughly stun and surprise. Guest violinist Letizia Riccardi plays with masterful emotion, compounded by the multi-layered voices of the Norwegian star.

This is not RPI, not really Symphonic, definitely not Neo or Crossover, Daal is a one of a kind purveyor of drastic plastic (to quote Be Bop Deluxe) that truly seeks to take the musical adventure into further realms of creativity, further stretching the boundaries between genres and sub-genres. Their catalog has kept on growing in quality and stature, so this will remain one of my 2014 favorites. It goes without any wonder or surprise that my most esteemed colleague and, to a certain extent common prog traveler Aussie-Byrd-Brother, has anointed this with equal universal acclaim.

5 dire umbilici

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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