- Aggressive drum production
Coming back from their heavily Cantebury influenced sophomore album, Kublai, the Italian band Accordo dei Contrari sets out to change their game a bit with their newest record, AdC. The evolution of this Bologna based group has them moving forward to explore new territory, this time stepping heavily into the avant-rock/RIO land. In my estimation, the direction of AdC shows a group that continues to mature, both in composition and production as they deliver a head-spinning album with enough emotion to ensure their listeners take them seriously.
In effect, “Nadir” is the perfect opening for the album, a song which contains many of the elements that make this release a powerful one. The ominous intro of harmonized synth leads provides a stark contrast to the bright chords and punchy drums that suddenly interrupt and launch the track into an explosion of aggressive jazz-rock. Through twists and turns, such as the delicate middle section that capitalizes on echoing Rhodes piano under tremolo guitar that breathes out a sort of chilling water effect, “Nadir” shows how to lay down a variety of moods while still staying very in your face. Continuing in the bold tradition, the followup, “Dandelion,” wastes no time to bring pulsating riffs to the forefront. Intense interplay of instruments and dissonant bursts lead the way to an eventual heavy, Deep Purple gone prog style riffing, replete with grinding Hammond and more groove than you can imagine amid its truncated measures.
The next couple of tracks, “Seth Zeugma” and “Dua,” take us a bit more in a quirky direction. The former channels a bit of the avant-garde classical in its furious attack of piano, cellos, and violin with a heavy emphasis on rhythm and repeated motifs. As the rock band comes in, a RIO sound abounds, but if you listen carefully you’ll even hear a bit of Gentle Giant groove in there as well. “Dua” takes us on a bit of a fun ride where piano and guitar lay down variations on a catchy theme amid jolting rhythms and polyrhythms, not forgetting to ease things up once in a while with some good ol’ classic style riffing. Holding some great moments, especialy in the dialoguing between instruments, “Dua” gives a strong portrayal of solid intermixing of the familiar and the exploratory.
Even though “Nadir” as the opener gives a sort of broad picture of the album, in my estimation a lot of what Accordo dei Contrari is doing throughout the album is actually leading up to and encapsulated in “Tiglath.” From its darkly evocative intro of scattered chords, hauntingly hammered on the Rhodes piano, alongside the delicate atmospheric building of cymbal swells, echoing tom hits, and dynamic rolls, to its head-spinning themes of unison guitar/synth alongside dancing bass, “Tiglath,” really shows an intricate balance between free-form to carefully composed material. Best of all, it’s pieces like this that show these Bolognesi to be skilled performers with a keen sense of depth and nuance in their representation of their pieces.
As the album closes with “Piu Limpida e Chiara di Ogni Impressione Vissuta, part II,” we get a bit of a glimpse of what is perhaps in the future of the band. Plucky guitars over a soothing canvas of droning cello and violin paint a nostalgic post-rock picture while providing a relaxing way to end the album. Yes, this piece did exist in sketch form during earlier years, as did a couple of other pieces, but as the liner notes state, “It is perhaps true that an album, carefully planned in all its details as it may be, is in fact the child of the very moment of its recording.” The three days spent in the studio recording this record, several songs of which were first takes, most certainly shows a band whose sense of expression point towards the future while bringing along what was good from the past.