Percussion-centric records are not new, but they are somewhat rare. Nana Vasconcelos has released a number of fine recordings where his percussion takes a front-and-centre position. But the difference between Vasconcelos and percussionist Antonio Gentile, who teams up with trumpeter Franco Baggiani on World Two , is that Vasconcelos coaxes an incredibly rich variety of sounds out of a very limited number of instruments; Gentile, on the other hand, sounds so similar on the thirty-five percussion instruments that he employs that rather than celebrating the diversity and flexibility of percussion, it all comes out sounding too much the same.
Keyboardist Maurizio Chigurni certainly doesn’t help. On the six tracks where he is employed he contributes uninspired backwashes which sound out of place amidst all the world-rhythms. Programmer Mino Cavallo provides bass programming that attempts to marry the ethnic sounds with a more contemporary techno-style on “Disco Timba,” and the completely superfluous “Disco Timba Remix.”
This leaves trumpeter Franco Baggianito to provide the melodic interest. Given the uniformity of the percussion and the monotony of the keyboard work, while he is a competent player with a less-than-distinguished tone, he is left with surprisingly little room to develop anything of interest. He is a merely competent player who broadens the scope with multitracking and the judicious use of a pitch shifter, but never really rises above the level of meaningless meandering. And given that he is the writer of four of the ten compositions, he is almost as responsible as Gentile for the static nature of the proceedings, with changes that are as predictable as they are mundane.
There is precious little to recommend about World Two with the possible exception that, with detailed track credits listing the multitude of instruments used, the album could be used as a primer for the young percussionist on some of the instruments at his/her disposal. But it is also a lesson in how more is rarely more. Even with the broad textural capabilities of all his percussion instruments, Gentile never manages to create more than a uniform backdrop with little distinction. The goal of this project is not immediately apparent, but whatever it is, it never comes close to succeeding.
The first record I bought was Miles Smiles. Having been a drummer since age two, hearing a young Tony Williams opened up so many possibilities for a 14 year old church drummer. My life changed that day and I've never looked back!