Horizontal Rain is the result of a project spanning several years from the former PFM, Aqua Fragile and Mangala Vallis frontman, Bernardo Lanzetti, calling in a stellar line up of special guests, maybe too long to name check them all, but we're talking the likes of Tony Levin, David Cross, David Jackson, Derek Sherinian, Tony Franklin, Jonathan Mover, so no complaints about the house band!
I'm told Lanzetti can be a controversial figure, but I have no PFM related baggage in my musical storeroom and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed his original, eccentric, theatrical approach and versatility. The album takes its name from a phrase describing not only extreme weather, but which appealed to Lanzetti because of its incongruity and sense of the counter intuitive, and this is a perfect metaphor for this album. This is a collection which bristles with ideas, refusing to stand still in any one mode and never fails to entertain, from the bouncy pop of Heck Jack to channelling David Bowie and Pat Metheny on the devastatingly effective Time Is King, which I'm sure even has a bit of a nod to Michael McDonald in the intro! Genial! Is a bit of a floor filler with electro beats, heavy guitar and Lanzetti giving rein to his full range of eccentric vocals - by which I mean it's totally bonkers, great fun and a total blast. Even Conventional seems somewhat ironic with its quasi-classical introduction and pastoral guitars forming a backdrop for a modern operatic solo vocal. Somehow I think there's a bit of tongue wedged firmly in cheek here. The title track as you might expect is deliberately disorientating, skittering drums, keys and wild guitar squeals, crazed vocals and even some devilish harmonica getting in on the act. The final track, Different is a vocal tour de force which is fitting for a singer's album, bringing in a full gospel choir feel with full orchestration and a sympathetic arrangement.
Lanzetti describes his own work as a collection of musical episodes that sail from Progressive Rock to Vanguard, making port of call at Modern Opera, Art Rock, Rock & Soul and Classix 2 B, “a collection of different, strong, characterized compositions with top or weird vocals” It's an imaginative, unique body of work, varied, fresh, interesting and brilliantly over the top. A real tonic in disconcerting times.
**** Andrew Cottrell
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