Italy has long been recognized in progrock circles as one of the world's heavy-hitters conceptually, what with PFM, Banco, Il Balletto di Bronzo, and a number of other groundbreakers from the 70s, but that era's dead and gone for all intents and purposes. France at one point showed what happened in Ange's transformation, wherein the vaulting symphonic progressives started turning out intriguing rock and roll with a distinctive edge, as did R.J. Stips when departing from Wigwam.
Well, everything transfigured, and the mass move from classicalist strains to populist, with the resulting intriguing wrinkles, appeared to have inspired more than a few groups: Gruppo Sportivo, Sigmund Snopek III, Tin Huey, etc. That, however, was the 80s and 90s; now it's the 00s, and the shift has had time to mature and ripen.
Afterhours is following that odd path and the success of their experimentation is shown in the fact that they've been picked up by the megaconglomerate Universal in Italy. Milanesi is a nervous, propulsive, hard-edged collection of 14 cuts expanding the rock fundament into the borderlands of orchestral echoes (the title cut drops right into strings and haunting backgrounds) and quasi-prog.
Tarantella All'Izone is the true entry point here, a staccato and moody track with faint traces of Kraftwerk, the later Ange, latterday King Crimson, and Banco leashed and subordinated to a spare framework eerily thin, almost claustrophobic but piercing. Pochi Istanti Nella Lavatrice shatters that with a raucous rave-up establishing a rough beat before pounding it into the ground.
The cover photograph gives the ambience away: a simple table setting with a red linen, single plate, a spoon, a fork and six knives, from steak to butcher. You know, thus, which side of the table to sit on. Everything is in Italian: the vocals, the printed lyrics, credits, everything, because the CD is an import. At one time, this disc would have stood a chance of being picked up by a domestic distributor, but that was back when label execs and audiences both appreciated intelligence and envelope-pushing canniness. Nowadays…who knows?, but that's what the Net is for. Ignore the corporate lemmings and check 'em out for yourself.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles