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Pierrot Lunaire - Pierrot Lunaire CD (album) cover


Pierrot Lunaire


Prog Folk

3.59 | 83 ratings

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4 stars An eclectic mix of adventurous folk music, classical sophistication and avant-garde daring, the debut self-titled album from 1974 by Italian act Pierrot Lunaire is a unique little treasure in a sub-genre filled with so many daring and thrilling works. The three musicians on this album present an evocative and unpredictable collection of sounds and styles that head in endless different directions, a true case of musical multiple personalities. Classical piano meets with sitar, Hammond organ serenades mandolin and acoustic guitar dances with flute for a range of both vocal and instrumental pieces that also frequently blend medieval, psychedelic and rock music in a subtle and distinctive fashion, with a constant shadow hanging over the music to bring just a hint of unease and edge.

The opening `Ouverture XV' is a softly stirring fanfare of organ, gentle acoustic guitar strums and murmuring bass slinking along the backdrop, with beautiful cascading spectral piano throughout a real highlight. `Raipure' is a rollicking but tasteful folk tune with instrumental breaks that pair sprightly piano over subtle little soloing bass eruptions, almost like they're duelling together. Tracks like `Invasore' are `Narciso' are psychedelic acid-folk ballads with groaning raga-rock sitar drones, drowsy wasted vocals and drifting synths. Ghostly classical piano, pursuing bass and spectral synth veils permeate the beautiful instrumental interlude `Lady Ligeia' (but what a shame about the abrupt cut-off ending!), and `Ganzheit' is a quietly melancholic instrumental acoustic lament to close the first side.

Acoustic interlude `Verso il Lago' opens the second side with some welcome romantic flavours that also carry on into the mandolin and recorder folk ballad `Il re di Rapure'. The seven minute `Sotto I Ponti' is one of the best pieces on the album, where the extended length allows the group to really stretch out. What starts as a shimmering 12 string acoustic ballad with a weary vocal lurches to life and beautifully transitions into a warm sunny mellow pop-rocker, where some fiery drumming, thick upfront bass and frazzled quick guitar brings an added punch to the second half. `Arlecchinata' alternates between dark moody male narrated passages and ethereal wordless female wisps that dance between around mischievous piano runs. Medieval flavours emerge through the emotional piano and acoustic guitar pirouettes of `La Saga...', and `Mandragola's strangled maniacal electric guitar soloing over booming pounding piano and a stomping intimidating beat closes the album in a dramatic manner!

While it would have been nice to hear more of the pieces extended and developed even further, Pierrot Lunaire's singular, unique mix of folk, classical, psych and experimental music is fascinating to discover. This album is less bombastic and symphonic that what many of the other Italian acts playing challenging progressive music from the time were presenting, but it's absolutely no less ambitious or inspired. Best enjoyed with a good pair of headphones to ensure you pick up all the most careful and tiniest of subtle details, `Pierrot Lunaire is endlessly captivating and utterly essential.

Four and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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