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Picchio Dal Pozzo - Picchio Dal Pozzo CD (album) cover


Picchio Dal Pozzo


Canterbury Scene

4.11 | 282 ratings

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4 stars Italian Canterbury?

Picchio dal Pozzo is a very interesting and popular title among jazz fans with a penchant for the avant garde, psych, and Italian flavors. The band from Genova were looking to make sophisticated music with some humor and succeeded amazingly well, drawing comparisons to Robert Wyatt, Hatfield, and Soft Machine but with injections of very strange psychedelic flavors and Italian influence. You can hear the same sort of experimental tendencies that brought forward diverse and crazy works from Pierrot Lunaire, Area, Opus Avantra, and Stormy Six but in the jazz field. The traditional meets the bizarre as these talented players and special guests like Ciro Perrino and Leonardo Lagorio of Celeste deliver an album that should satisfy the most adventurous music fan.

Progweed and Gnosis reviewer Greg Northrup calls the band "a refreshing treat to those somewhat burned out on the classic Italian progressive sound, but still willing to mine the depths of the country's scene in search of one last undiscovered gem. Picchio dal Pozzo come from a completely different wing of influences than the typical vaguely orchestral, pastoral, flowery melodicism of many of the country's bands, looking towards jazz, RIO, Frank Zappa, Gong, and especially, Robert Wyatt and the Soft Machine as major influences. Funnily enough, the result is just as beautiful, as angular melodies coexist with fuzzed out guitar, churning horns and soothing, seemingly free form song structures. The tempo is always slow, as sax, piano and otherworldly vocals just float above the mix, creating a exquisite, emotional atmosphere, with just a dash of dissonance, angularity and off-beat sensibility to keep things interesting." [G. Northrup]

Beginning with the intricate, layered guitar picking of "Merta" followed by percussion and strange wordless vocals, it is apparent that this is not your father's jazz album. Soon the keyboards are filling in the space with a phased effect. A rather stock jazz beat begins "Cocomelastico" but the horns play notes in an odd leap-frog manner, like in two parallel scales. There's probably a formal term for it that I'm not aware of but it is pretty cool. More odd, absurdist vocals are sprinkled in on top of the relaxing rhythm. "Seppia" is a 10 minute juggernaut that grabs everyone who hears it. No drums early on, just a melding of keys and horns in a gorgeous tapestry. The drums finally come in with a repetitive guitar riff, rather terse sound, while all around it the lunatics are running the asylum with strange howls, moans, and general singing from the straightjacket choir. Somehow it works, assuming you love strange music. Suddenly everything cuts to what sounds like clarinet and xylophone playing some odd quiet melodies alone. Then a guitar loop ushers in these strange spoken children's voices and for a moment I swear I'm listening to Pierrot Lunaire's "Gudrun." The piece ends with simple light and breezy melody followed by the guitar/flute interlude "Bofonchia." Side two begins with "Napier." It opens with a brilliant dissonance of flute followed by strange sax and keyboard murkiness. Enter some piano and more upbeat percussions and things are getting very busy, but the arrangements are well done so the piece remains tasteful. There are a few average vocals but it is mostly heavenly instrumental space jazz. It gets quieter near the end with delicate cymbals and the lightness of e-piano. Nice track. "La Floricoltura" tones down the weirdness (a little bit) and alternates nice instrumental workouts with enthusiastic vocal harmonies. By the end it again slides into madness with a trainwreck of playing. "La Bolla" is more laid back, with gentle horns over rolling piano notes, percussion, and acoustic guitar. A few electric leads pop into the background. As the guitar licks heat up there are some gentle "la la la" vocals laid on top. Finally, we get to "Off' which drops the weirdness again in favor of pastoral piano landscapes with delightful flute on top. Mellow wordless vocals, guitar, and bass come in and all is peaceful with no drumming all the way through.

PdP is a great album and recommended title for Italian, Canterbury, and psych-space-jazz fans. The Vinyl Magic CD-067 reissue sounds pretty good but has only a two-page booklet with credits and a brief bio.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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