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Saint Just - Saint Just CD (album) cover


Saint Just


Prog Folk

3.56 | 50 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Out of all the Italian prog groups, very few come out sounding different to the usual Italian symphonic style, some heading towards jazz (Prigeo, A&M, PdP, Area etc.), some heading more frankly towards folk or avant folk (Pierrot Lunaire and..???). That's right, there aren't many more, but Saint Just's first album is indeed aiming in that direction (more than the second, which is ooogling towards jazz rock). Madrugada's debut was also folk, as might be folk, but it fails to have an avant-garde feel. SJ is a trio made from saxman Roberto fix, guitarist/bassist Tony Verde and Jane Sorrenti, a singer whose's voice is one of the stranger one around, sometimes sounding like the typical female folk singer, and at times unbearably twisted, sometimes making you think of Joana Newsom's screechy Far Eastern- sounding vocals. Recorded in early 73 as a trio, but with the help of Mario D'Amora on keyboards and percussionist/drummer Tony Esposito and the assistance of Jane's brother Alan, their debut album was released on the Italian Harvest branch with a weird doll artwork.

Starting solemnly enough on the 10-mins+ Il Fiume Inondo with guitar and piano arpeggios, until Jane's voice interrupts chillingly this classical folk ballad, but to give it another folk direction until rerouted again this time via Fix's sax to yet another more avant-garde tune, seemingly intended to finish inside D'Amora's piano's gut. Despite the complexity of the music, the instrumentation is rather sparse this helps fuelling the weirdness. The following 6-mins Rivesglio is no less weird, using the same acoustic guitar and Jane's unusual voice (§she sounds Chinese at times), but a searing Frippian electric guitar solo (courtesy of guest Guarracino) changes the deal and D'Amora's piano enters again the plot, later replaced by the sax and finally returning to the guitar and Jane lament that opened the track. Dolci Momenti (soft/sweet/smooth moments) closes the a-side with much gentle care, a bit like a kid's musical box.

The flipside opens on the 8-mins Una Bambina, the usual SJ folk track until a Frippian guitar chase the original idea, soon replaced by a Jaxon-like sax, while Verde is noc competa The six-mins+ Trista Poeta Di Corte is homage to the French poets, whom were beat poets with over half a century of advance on Rimbaud, Baudelaire & Verlaine and well over a century Kerouac, Ginsbergh and Burroughs. The closing eponymous track is sung by Jane, but this time in French (credible although never sounding more Chinese or Newsom, herself) but it mighjt bethe album's weaker moment.

A superb and somehow frightening debut album from one of Italy's lesser-known prog band, SJ's debut album is maybe in the top 10 Italian album of that decade, and probably of all time. Unlike Pierrot Lunaire, though, their second album will not remain in the same avant-folk realm, but aim to fuller (less sparse) jazz-rock with a reinforced line-up.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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