Even though it’s sort of funny that you can use the word “Canterbury” to describe bands that didn’t come from that relatively small British city that was a hotbed of prog in the 70’s. Well, I’m going to go ahead and use the term with Homunculus Res; even though they’re an Italian band debuting in 2013 there are so many moments on their, Limiti all’egualianza della Parte con il Tutto, that absolutely nail the British style that I simply can’t help myself, making them perhaps appear in many of our minds alongside their countrymen, Picchio dal Pozzo in the Canterbury sound. Despite their similarities to classic groups like Caravan and Hatfield and the North, there’s most definitely more to this band than meets the eye at first glance, as they certainly know how to spin more experimental elements into their songs with frequency.
Right from the start, “Culturalismo ballo organizzare” dives in with odd rhythms, jazzy chords, and funny keyboard sounds that prove that this album isn’t a mere canterbury ripoff; it maintains a quirky edge, even including zeuhl and RIO elements from time to time. Obviously though, this is a British-centric record; there’re a number of tracks like “DJ Psicosi,” “Preparazione Bomba H,” and “Jessicalaura” that hint at bands such as Hatfield and the North and Camel-esuqe melodies (including some ‘dat dat dah’ lyricless vocals following chord changes). These are not without their twists, however, such as the avant-garde leanings (reminiscent of Rascal Reporters) in the middle of “Preparazione” and the zeuhl-like repetitions with increasing intensity in “DJ Psicosi.” From here it gets stranger and stranger with the arrival of “Sintagma,” which opens up with some zany sounds and rhythms–typical of what we’d expect from an Altrock band–before moving back into some more familiar territory such as the dreamy chord changes and perfectly classic use of Mellotron flutes in tracks like “Nabucco Chiappe D’oro.
Although there are lots of great things about Limiti all’egualianza della Parte con il Tutto, I think if it has a weakness it would be the second half of the record. Around track twelve there’s a tendency to present a lot of short songs that make the album, overall, feel a bit drawn out (in my personal opinion). Tracks like “Accidenti,”demonstrating a straightforward cantebury influenced style, “Centoquarantudemilaottecentocinquantasette,” which toys with us by using lots, and lots, and looooooots (and lots) of rests after a quirky opening (best song title ever, btw), and “Puk 10” which leans a bit psychedelic, all come off as pieces with fantastic ideas. But simultaneously they leave me with the impression of jam ideas that were rolled out in practice–never fully developed into full what they could have potentially been.
In the end (how many times have I wrapped up a review with that phrase? Time to dig a bit deeper in my lexicon) Homuculus Res churned out a pleasing first record. It’s founded on strong ideas and a high level of playfulness (without degenerating into silliness) and shows promising prospects. I’m looking forward to seeing where these Palermo boys will go from here on future records.