As inferred last year when I tackled this ensemble's debut disc, La Busta Gialla (here): if bassist Mike Watt's involved, its always best to expect the unexpected. That hasn't changed a whit, as Watt's a cat who continually works at re-defining just what's meant by the sobriquet of 'progressive'. Trio'ed up again with guitarist Stefano Pilia and drummer Andrea Belfi, Canto Secondo (Second Song or Second Division, depending on whether you're a Webstered Italiano or an Alighieri'ed Italiano) is a bouillabaisse of exotic flavors and ingredients. Last time around, I mentioned Roedelius, SFF, Long Hello, Durutti Column and others; this time, I'm hearing Gong, Spontaneous Combustion, Starless oriented Crimson, Mallard (ex-Beefheart band), and a generous evolution of the chops native to the trio itself.
Il Sogno del Marinaio (The Sailor's Dream) isn't typical of any prog band or style but rather anarchically differentiated from both the pantheon and the upstarts…something that used to be the point of such doings until the genre's critics grew even more boneheaded than they already were (hmmm…is that even possible???) and screwed the pooch nine ways from Sunday. All the pooches. In all the ways. The band, though, would go well at a fest with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Mike Keneally, Thinking Plague, and other brainiac gaggles slipping their long sinuous ectoplasmic fingers into post-Haight audience cerebella, aggregates of neo-aerospace/Silicon Valley overachievers bored with stylistic parochialisms, lounge tech lizards looking for sonics appoaching the Teslavian.
Chiefly instrumental, there are some vocals, which amount to rather cynical mutterings and twingey expostulations, but the concentration is on complex interplay upending the expected. Pilia's guitaristics have a decidedly French aspect, kinda in line with the obscure Les 4 Guitaristes de l'Apocalypse accidental group, though he cranks into Keneally territory when the urge strikes. Watt's always Watt, peripatetic, filling up the atmospheres with background colorations or upfront outbursts, and Andrea Belfi is a demon on the skins, never at rest, save for very brief spells, always igniting the under- and oversling of every cut. If you prefer starting out with such fare minus a head, throw on the last cut, Us in Their Land, and have a catch-basket ready (you can probably still rent one from Robespierre). Regardless, it's always best not to turn your back on this kinda stuff.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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