Paolo Siani was the original drummer with Nuova Idea, the 70s Italian rockers and a band he has remained close to and effectively reformed for the Castles, Wings And Stories (see review) album in 2010 and Faces With No Traces (see review) released in 2016. In short these chaps know their way around the prolific Italian music scene.
This is a constantly changing, restless album, exploring a range of styles and tones. The first track is an assured rocker, more of a blues based number with howling Hammond organ and soulful vocals provided by guest singer, Antony Brosco. While the subsequent track Inflate Your Veins starts in lugubrious sax-led style, the synthesised drum beats kick in to an upbeat and enjoyable workout, only flawed by the faded ending as the whole piece seemingly runs out of steam. The title track features synthesised vocals with a hint of the electronic prog masters of the 70s. Personally, I found Statue Of Wax another excursion into electro-pop about as dynamic as its title suggests, which is not at all although the eastern tinged vocals added a much needed touch of exoticism, and the plodding Lord Brummel does little to capture the sartorial flamboyance of its subject. A song that threatens to burst into life never quite manages to break its shackles and just as things get interesting another fade out strikes.
Purists will argue that much of what is on offer here is progressive-tinged rock and pop rather than prog rock per se. But no matter, everything deserves to be taken on its own terms, and there is much to be admired in the accomplished performances of these experienced musicians. Walking On The Limit is a playfully enjoyable pop piece awash with 60s psychedelic colours. Similarly Time To Play whimsically captures the moment fun intrudes into a humdrum life. The album ends literally where it came in with a stripped back version of the opening track Standing Alone this version raw and brutal in counterpoint to the Nilssonesque piano part and a stunning achievement. As an added bonus We're Going Wrong which closes the album is tacked on, a performance by Nuevo Idea of the Cream classic taken from a RAI radio broadcast in 1971. A brave effort from these youthful counterparts. If that version of the band lacks the accomplishment of its current day line-up (and certainly of Messrs Baker, Bruce and Clapton) you cannot fault their spirit and as a moment in time it captures the raw energy and ambition of youth.
It is a shame that some of that youthful fire seems to have gone away. While this is a fine album, too many ideas seem to go nowhere or lack the drive to develop fully, which is a pity, because at their best, these musicians are capable of a great deal but somehow the overall package under delivers.
*** Andrew Cottrell
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