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Zerothehero - Horror Vacui CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.50 | 4 ratings

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4 stars Trippy psych-space instrumental project

"Horror Vacui" is the debut full-length work of zerothehero, also known as multi-instrumentalist Carlo Barreca. Barreca is the bass player in the Italian psych outfit Fungus and has been making music for many years now. He describes this first solo outing as "a (completely instrumental) trip into the inner self" and that sounds about right. Barreca plays most of the instruments on the self-produced work available through Bandcamp and limited CD release.

While the title would suggest something spooky that really isn't the case. The 44 minutes of instrumental rock are fairly upbeat experiments in psych-space rock with occasional bits of other styles. Guitar and bass seem to be the lead instruments and there's plenty of spicy interplay between them throughout. The songs vary in length/style and concentrate on mood, and as advertised, feel quite strongly like pieces of self-reflection. The most direct comparison I can make would be the calmer works of Djam Karet, where you float along on guitar clouds, occasional sound effects, and electronics, then as you begin to dissolve Barreca will round up your particles and reassemble them with some emotional and more direct lead guitar work. There are lots of cool effects pedals draping the guitar parts, and these along with his assertive bass work give the tracks their effervescence and energy.

Occasionally he will back the piece with a Rick Wright style, "Obscured by Clouds" era keyboard tapestry, as in "The Discovery." Another nice touch are the bits of acoustic guitar and flute used to change the pace and flow of the album, particularly gorgeous on the light-hearted "To A Distant Friend." "Spring Calls" is a favorite where the repeating keyboard motif, very sentimental and happy, is backed by a more stock rhythm and it is this track which probably ticked the crossover box, though to be honest most of this feels more psych than cross. For what is likely the home-produced work of a single person, Barreca does a great job of covering all the bases. Not often do you miss the full band sound. The songs have personality and sincere charm to me, the overall work is satisfying, and that's coming from someone who is not the biggest instrumental album fan.

If you enjoy instrumental guitar rock on the laid-back side of trippy, this is a delightful journey for a hazy headed day. I liked it quite a lot. 3 1/2 stars.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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