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Pierrot Lunaire - Pierrot Lunaire CD (album) cover


Pierrot Lunaire


Prog Folk

3.59 | 83 ratings

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3 stars A strange little thing this one. Italy's Pierrot Lunaire's self-titled first album sits as a wedge between several familiar styles without really conforming to the standards of any of them. Of these styles, folk and the wide spectrum of Rock Progressivo Italiano are definitely the most predominant. Not the strangest or most revolutionary of combinations, but there you have it.

They do however manage to present this package in their own particular and often unique little way. It never really feels comfortable in the prog folk idiom in which it finds itself placed, even though I can certainly see why Pierrot Lunaire is where it is. The music comes across as mostly rather gentle and soothing, with tender, crisp folk melodies and lovely "watercolour" instrumental richness, harmony and warmth. An array of guitars (acoustic, 12-string, electric) and prevalent, warm and pleasant keyboards such as organ and piano tend to do that to an album. With additions of mandolin, sitar and celesta these feelings are further enhanced. All of this is presented with an unusual, but refreshing naiveness and earnestness that is both endearing and easy to digest.

Folk'y, nimble acoustic and electric guitars are all over the place, serving as textural backdrop or playing the sweet and delicate pastoral melodies you immediately pick up on as a first impression. Piano, being a favourite instrument of mine, is also given a big role: cheerfully rollicking, gently phrasing, begging for your attention in the same discreet, lovely and rejuvenating way as falling rain (thank you, Pierre!) or just dominating melodically in the fresh sumptuousness only the piano can bring to music. There is often an air of joyful urgency and expectancy in the music, a youthful impatience and happiness that drives the music. A touch of spring, perhaps? Sometimes it positively surges with bouncy bass lines, energetic acoustic guitar, that rollicking piano mingling with other melodies and other instruments coming to the fore only to drift away into the backdrop again. At times there are more hard-hitting pieces and shades of murkier emotions, a bit more menace and dark energy in the chord progressions and melodies, but it is never really threatening or ominous, just a bit of coldness and/or heat (or to continue with the spring theme - a late frost or a grass fire) now and then. On the whole, it is a fairly dynamic and expressive set of songs.

What lurk as a bit of a constant shadow over the record is the, in my opinion, sometimes rather bland rhythmic constructions and the simplicity of the underlying main motifs that shine through the decidedly stronger musical topping. Partly, this is surely due to the lack of a dedicated drummer, but it reaches further than that, being, as it is, at the basic structural AND melodic core of the album. No added drummer can remedy that, but it could at least give the music more of a much needed backbone on some of these compositions. It is just a bit clumsy and cumbersome, a little too sterile and strict at times. The underlying guitars and (especially) bass make up for it a lot of the time, but it still is a weakness in my eyes.

I also feel that on repeated listens, being washed over by beautiful melody upon beautiful melody with beautiful harmony upon beautiful harmony coupled with the general positive and pleasing vibe of it all can become a little bit grating. There is a tendency for the simple-yet-effective and expected to get the upper hand a little too often, be it dynamically or melodically. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it really is not good enough for it to be a great album in my book. Sure, there is drama to be found, but always a bit toned-down and mellow, staying away from the more flamboyant and heartfelt. No need for an entire album to be like that, but I find myself looking for something a little more red-blooded.

Regardless of shortcomings, I treasure Pierrot Lunaire. It is a wonderful pick-me-up, and if I am looking for an album of this type the energy, earnestness and sometimes heart-achingly beautiful melodies found here are very hard to beat.

3 stars.


LinusW | 3/5 |


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