Sardinia is never far from Paolo Angeli's heart and mind. In a storied career, the Italian guitarist has often drawn inspiration from his island's landscapes, soundscapes, culture and history, notably on albums such as S'û (ReR Megacorp, 2015) and Jar'a (ReR Megacorp, 2021). Even on 22.22 Free Radiohead (ReR Megacorp, 2019), his highly original tribute to the English alt-rock band, the sounds of Sardinian folk music ghosted through the music. On Rade, Angeli's Sardinian immersion is deeper still.
With his extraordinary, prepared guitara veritable orchestra of lead and sympathetic strings, hammers, pedals and mini-propellers that summon bell-like trillsAngeli evokes the sounds of a ship's foghorn, blowing winds and breaking waves. However, these effects are just the tip of the iceberg. Bowed and electronic-filtered drones drift in and out throughout the one-hour suite, while Angeli also juggles bass and cello lines, acoustic guitar intricacy and electric guitar surges. An array of percussive effects color the music. Rhythms, overt and implied, are a constant. Surprisingly, given the multiple layers at play, only one of the suite's nine segments, "Ottava," employs loops or overdubs.
Angeli's singing is another potent element in the mix. His yearning, vibrato-heavy delivery borrows from traditional Sardinian folk, occupying a curious middle ground between earthy roots music and sacred incantation. Wordless cry gives way to lyrics borrowed from eighteenth-century Sardinian poetryhymns to the rhythms of nature and to the rhythms of love. As impressive as Angeli's technical command of his multi-faceted guitar certainly is, his vocals convey an emotional currency which lies at the heart of the music.
Strains of Arabic and Sardinian melodies dovetail with ambient sounds that, as is the case on "Rade," border on the psychedelic. The smallest musical gesturesa horn- like drone, a bell-like strum, a little percussive janglinggradually build, swelling into mighty walls of sound which rise and fall dramatically. Angeli's bow conjures strikingly contrasting textures, from lyrical cello lines and fuzzy electric grunge to synthesizer-esque balm. There is also plenty of precise fingering in the suite's quieter passages, although Angeli eschews virtuoso displays.
The suite is best experienced uninterrupted, where the music's arc reveals a sinewy narrative which is ancient and somehow timeless, traditional yet innovative. A compelling sonic journey whose transporting qualities duly linger.
| Year Released: 2022
| Record Label: AnMa ReR Megacorp
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