Paolo Angeli
Nita - L'Angelo Sul Trapezio


It was about two years ago that I reviewed here - quite favourably, by the way - an album by Paolo Angeli called Bucato: a "solo" album where the Italian musician played exclusively the "Sardinian prepared guitar"; my two main points of dissatisfaction concerned: first, the fact that the CD booklet lacked any real information about this quite original instrument; then, that the CD was way too long, a fact which diluted some beautiful moods, and which, besides, showed the somewhat limited palette behind the musician's inspiration.
I was curious about Angeli's evolution, and I had hoped for his solo dimension to mature; so I was initially not-too-happy about the news that his new CD would feature a wide, "orchestral" ensemble - a fact that takes us back to his previous, and quite varied, musical experiences. As soon as I had rearranged my listening expectations, everything was alright.
But many listening sessions, in the course of a whole week, failed to make my initial perplexities disappear. I'll immediately say that a lot of care went into this work, both at the arranging and at the recording/mixing stage - all elements that make it very easy for the listener to appreciate the beautiful colours of Angeli's orchestrations. The work of the musicians in the ensemble is agile and technically competent - this is not the kind of music that leaves a lot of space for solos, by the way, but listeners will be able to find their favourite instrumental sounds inside the palette. There's so much variety here that this (extremely good-sounding) CD could easily work as nice background for listeners with cultivated taste.
My main reasons for puzzlement deal with two areas. The first is a certain lack of personality at the compositional stage; it's not at all difficult to hear clear traces of Fred Frith (Nita), also in the ways strings and winds are combined; of the orchestral Frank Zappa (above all, check Specchi D'Arancia); then, we have echoes of Etron Fou and Zamla; and a pinch of Hatfield And The North, circa Side Two of The Rotters' Club (in parts of Pari O Dispari); as it was to be expected, there are also references to, and elaborations of, Sardinian folk material; the main problem is that the whole appears to lack a "point of view", while offering a "list of opinions". The second point that left me puzzled deals with the spoken parts and with some of the songs which to me didn't sound as having any particular artistic merit but which nonetheless disturbed and spoilt some nice moods (here a "special mention" will go to L'Angoscia Dell'Amore); I was sorry to see the mood produced by Sorbetto, Nita (Timida) and Ritagli Di Tempo totally ruined by Pascoli and L'Ululone; and the oppositions appear devoid of those "aesthetical/structural" reasons which give meaning to those cuts and "bizarre coupling" which appear in the music of, say, Zappa and Zorn.
The subtitled of the record is "An Imaginary Soundtrack", which could explain a few things - maybe. But while it's true that the composer of a movie soundtrack has to submerge his/her vision inside the director's, what's the point of such a fragmentary vocabulary in an original work?

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2005 | June 16, 2005