Posts Tagged ‘Franco Sciscio’

1. Ludiche Ecchimosi  (5 Danze Immaginarie) (9:42):
a) Ludiche Ecchimosi # 1 (1:44)
b) Ludiche Ecchimosi # 2 (2:30)
c) Ludiche Ecchimosi # 3 (3:04)
d) Ludiche Ecchimosi # 4 (0:51)
e) Ludiche Ecchimosi # 5 (1:33)
2. Il Folletto di Cera (4:31):
a) Miniatura # 1 (0:28)
b) Il Folletto di Cera (4:03)
3. Inseguito dai Creditori (6:01)
4. Tre Pezzi Brevi (7:46):
a) Flutter (5:50)
b) In Mezzo (0:15)
c) Snappy (1:41)
5. L’Onda Vertebrata (20:08):
a) Ouverture (1:55)
b) … Tra le Gocce Che Verso l’Alto Guardano… (2:03)
c) Tu… Onda Vertebrata (1:57)
d) …di un’Ombra… (1:00)
e) Intermezzo (1:44)
f) In Bilico (2:13)
g) Passaggio (2:00)
h) … Addomestico il Sogno (2:21)
i) Non Credere Più (2:25)
l) Coda con Fanfara (2:30)

Bonus tracks:
6. La Follia del Mimo Azoto (3:41):
a) The Breznev Funk Club
b) La Follia del Mimo Azoto
c) The Breznev Funk Club (Reprise)
7. Il Folletto di Cera (instrumental version) (4:30):
a) Miniatura # 1 (0:29)
b) Il Folletto di Cera (4:01)

Franco Sciscio – voice, Sprechgesang
Giuliana Di Mitrio – mezzosoprano
Maria Mianulli – flute
Francesco Manfredi – clarinet in B flat
Michele Motola – soprano and alto sax
Gianfranco Menzella – alto, tenor and baritone sax
Francesco Panico – trumpet in B flat
Francesco Tritto – trombone
Tommaso De Vito Francesco – bass guitar, contrabass, oboe
Michele Fracchiolla – drums, percussion, vibraphone, marimba
Pino Manfredi – piano, keyboards
Rocco Lomonaco – classical, acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, quatro, harmonica
Duilio Maci – violin
Angela Schiralli – cello

Breznev Fun Club’s cleverly amusing name, which hinges on the common mispronunciation of the words fan and fun on the part of English-speaking Italians, may not be very familiar to most progressive rock listeners, but it is certainly a secret worth learning about.  As the album’s subtitle of Lost and Found implies, L’Onda Vertebrata is a collection of music written in the years 1990-1997 by multi-instrumentalist and composer Rocco Lomonaco (based in Milan, but hailing from the southern Italian region of Basilicata) and singer/lyricist Francesco Sciscio, and performed by an extended line-up of guest musicians, most of them members of chamber and symphonic orchestras. Though Breznev Fun Club was originally born as a trio, the evolution of their music in a more experimental direction required a looser configuration. However, Lomonaco is planning to put together a smaller group in order to perform on stage the music included on this album and its follow-up, titled Il Misantropo Felice, scheduled for a 2012 release on AltrOck Productions.

For an album that can be quite comfortably placed under the capacious RIO/Avant umbrella, L’Onda Vertebrata is a surprisingly melodic and accessible effort, sophisticated yet not needlessly daunting. Indeed, despite the undeniably complex and “highbrow” nature of the music,  the album as a whole never tries to hit the listener over the head with its cleverness and supposed superiority to “mainstream” prog. Even Franco Sciscio’s half-sung, half-recited vocals (a technique called by the German word of Sprechgesang) do not sound as overdone as in other albums that employ a similar style – though obviously they can be much of an acquired taste, and a deterrent for those who prefer a more traditional approach to singing.

L’Onda Vertebrata shares a number of features with contemporary classical and chamber music, and at times– as is the case with other similar outfits, such as Aranis or Factor Burzaco – it may strike the listener as rather far removed from the directness of rock. However, there are also moments in which the whole range of rock instruments is effectively employed, emphasizing the eclecticism of Breznev Fun Club’s approach.  Though, as the liner notes point out, the individual numbers are pieced together from parts composed in different moments of the band’s activity – reflected by their structure of “mini-suites” in various movements – they come across as much more cohesive than one might expect.

As suggested in the previous paragraphs, the music on display on L’Onda Vertebrata offers a lot of variety, though in an elegantly understated way. Echoes of Canterbury (especially Hatfield and the North and National Health) surface in opener “Ludiche Ecchimosi”, introduced by the lovely vocalizing of mezzosoprano Giuliana Di Mitrio, who also appears in the final part of the sparse, Debussy-like “Tre Pezzi Brevi”, accented by the clear, lilting sound of mallet percussion; while the lively “Inseguito dai Creditori”, whose choppy, Hammond-driven first half turns solemn, almost austere towards the end, might be effectively described as “Canterbury with a bite”. “Il Folletto di Cera” is a textbook example of how avant-garde does not necessarily mean noisy or jarring, with Sciscio’s theatrical vocals (reminiscent of Nichelodeon’s Claudio Milano) offset by the gentle, romantic flow of the melodies seamlessly woven by the lush instrumentation.

More than a conventional prog “epic”, the 20-minute title-track is a mini-opera divided in 10 parts that offers a wide range of modes of expression – from the airy, slow-paced opening to heavier, dramatic passages which brought to my mind Italian Seventies cult outfit Pholas Dactylus, from solemn church organ to fluid, jazzy moments enhanced by a rich fabric of horns and reeds. The first of the two bonus tracks, “La Follia del Mimo Azoto”, harks back to the time when Breznev Fun Club were heavily funk-oriented, at times reminding me of New York-based outfit Afroskull with their powerful horn section; while the Canterbury influence emerges again in the instrumental-only version of “Il Folletto di Cera”.

In spite of its rather intellectual vibe, L’Onda Vertebrata is a surprisingly accessible album, which is sure to win over lovers of both “chamber rock” and contemporary academic music, but that may even appeal to those of more mainstream tastes – especially on account of its high melodic quotient (quite revealing of its Italian matrix). An excellent, classy testimony of Rocco Lomonaco’s over two decades of activity as a musician and composer, the album will also whet the appetite of devoted followers of AltrOck Production’s roster in anticipation of the release of Il Misantropo Felice. The very detailed liner notes (unfortunately only in Italian), illustrating the history of the band as well as of each of the tracks, and the striking green hues of the cover artwork also deserve a special mention.



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