Ske: 1000 Autunni
  • Production
  • Composition
  • Musicianship
  • Freshness
  • Ridunkulously specific track by track list of instruments in liner notes

Paolo Ske Botta: Italian keyboard wizard and composer extraordinaire. If this is the first time you are hearing of him, that’s unfortunate, but it’s not too late to catch up. For those who are familiar with the sonically delicious Italian RIO/avant prog group Yugen, this man may or may not need an introduction. I absolutely love Yugen, however, I never really considered the genius of this man until I heard his solo album 1000 Autunni. When an artist releases a solo project outside of his/her main band, I am rarely impressed. This mind blowing album is an exception; 1000 Autunni is certainly destined to remain a cherished part of my collection.

Think of this album as the alter ego of Yugen. If Yugen is dark, Ske’s solo album is mostly bright and always quirky. It brilliantly manages to pull off keeping all the complex tonal and melodic work of Yugen without sounding grim in the least bit. The inclusion of harp, Hammond, marimba, trons, vibraphone, xylophone, sax, and gong abandon the dark textures we’re familiar with for quirky games of syncopation and avant garde fusion and rock which are every bit as rhythmically pulverizing as Yugen without making you feel like you’re watching a horror film.

What’s even better, Ske’s use of poly or atonality never manages to leave you in the dark melodically. From the opening track, “Fraguglie,” you can easily pick out the piece’s principal motifs and follow the journey Paolo submits them to. Here is a composer capable of putting together fun atonal themes that won’t leave the listener drowning in an attempt to follow melodies as their variations get bounced around from instrument to instrument. Is it time to invoke some strange idiom about achieving great things with flying colors? Yes.

If you’re looking for something that’s a bit non-standard with grooves that’ll leave you smiling and instrumentation that’ll have you wiping your drool off of your shirt at the end of every song, this album’s for you. Did I mention some of the coolest use of mellotron, especially tron choir, that I’ve ever heard? Oh, yeah, and I couldn’t help but grin when I saw that Ske makes mention of the exact mellotron tape racks that he used on each and every song. I know, it’s silly, right? Wrong. It’s not silly, it’s awesome.