Music Reviews

Artist: Deadburger Factory (@)
Title: la fisica della nuvole
Format: 3 x CD (triple CD)
Label: Snowdonia/Goodfellas (@)
Rated: *****
First I should say that I probably shouldn't have been the one to review this, not because I can't grok the music (most of it anyway) but because Italian is a language I have no proficiency in, and to fully appreciate this, it's likely essential. (I know we have some paisanos here at Chain D.L.K.; Marc, Mario, Vito.) Be that as it may, Deadburger Factory is actually Italian avant-rock band Deadburger, with some help from their friends on this triple-disc deluxe box set, hence the 'factory' added to the name, as a musical experimental laboratory of sorts. When I say deluxe, I definitely mean deluxe- a neat gray-lavender box with artwork by cartoonist Paul Bacilieri (also different works by him on the individual CDs), a 64 page booklet with lyrics (in Italian of course), color photos of the band, more Bacilieri artwork, and other odd and interesting stuff, plus a foldout mini-poster of Bacilieri's cartoon art from the three individual CDs assembled for continuity. This must have cost a fistful of Euros to put together, and having no idea what it retails for, nor how big a following the band has in Italy, I don't know if they'll ever recoup their investment, but for some, it's sure to become one of those 'must haves'. Even the one-sheet accompanying this is in Italian, so I had to go elsewhere (several elsewheres) searching for information to be able to convey to you, the potential listener.

The title ' 'la fisica della nuvole' translated means 'The Physics of Clouds'. Each of the three CDs also has its own title CD1- 'Puro Nylon 100%' (sort of self-explanatory); CD2- 'Microonde/Vibroplettri' (Microwave/Vibrating Plectrums); CD3- 'la fisica della nuvole' (The Phyics of Clouds'), all representing different aspects of this work. CD1 is easily the most diverse of the three. It combines elements of rock, classical, jazz, electronic, spoken word (most in Italian), avant-garde, downtempo trip hop, and probably a few I missed. Not all at the same time mind you, but sometimes. Comprised of 8 tracks composed by Vittorio Nistri, Allessandro Casini and Tony Vivona, there is a wide variety of moods, and sonics explored here, so it almost seems cinematic. One minute you're listening to a nifty distorted guitar riff (joined by violin, ala King Crimson) with heavy acoustic rock drums, the next, some gentle electronics and a string sextet, interrupted by some dissonant processed electronics. Some of the tracks on this CD are their own variations on Erik Satie's 'Socrates'. Although I found it a bit uneven, there were enough highlights to warrant multiple replays.

CD2- 'Microonde/Vibroplettri' is something completely different. The most experimental CD of the three, it is split between Vittorio Nisti's sonic microwave experiments (using a microwave oven as the primary sound source) and Alessandro Casini's vibrating plectrum experiments (using vibrating sex toys to motivate his guitar). Each of them has four tracks on this CD. First track, 'My Life Inside the Microwave' begins with some high frequency drones and not long turns into a squalling assault of noise. 'Strategy of the Rat' is an intriguing rhythmic piece; a bit of hypnotic electronica with a low voiced melody and an arrhythmic scraping sound. Noise surfaces as element as well, along with an occasional dinging bell. This is way cool! How all this was generated from a microwave, is beyond me, but the creativity here is simply astounding. 'Magnetron' is a short electronic piece employing reverse-attack technique (backwards samples) with other rapid little electronic rhythms, seeming transitional. 'Micronauta' is strange psychedelic ambience, just too hard to describe; quite multifaceted and intriguing. It ends with the dinging of a bell, quite possibly signifying the rat it the microwave'¦is done. 'The Dentist of Tangier' is an odd Middle Eastern flavored piece with a quirky rhythm and eccentric guitar. 'Heart of Rana' is a weird noise-rock piece that shows you just how bizarre things can get when sex toys are applied to the guitar. With dildo-neck slide guitar, this style of delta blues would have Elmore James turning over in his grave. Beefheart might dig it though. 'Dr. Quartermass, I Presume' features an undercurrent of quirky electronic rhythm with abstract noisy electric guitar on top. Concluding with 'Plowing the Fields of Glass', a repetitive guitar melody forms the pedal off which other guitar sounds (sustained low notes, tremolo, squealing sustained lead) play. It comes off as the least experimental and least rewarding track on this CD.

CD3- 'The Physics of Clouds' is yet again something completely different. This is where Deadburger comes together as a band, with a more cohesive sound, if such a thing is possible for them. At this time the band lineup should be introduced ' Simone Tilli ' trumpet, lead vocals (Simone is a guy by the way, think of him as Simon); Alessandro Casini ' guitar (acoustic guitar on this disc, although I swear some of it sounds electric); Carlo Sciannameo ' fretless bass; Giula Nuti- viola; Irene Orrigo ' flute, vocals; Pino Gulli ' drums; Massimo Giannini ' percussion, vocals; Vittorio Nistri ' keyboards, loops. There are a couple of other musicians involved, but let's not get carried away in the credits. This is supposed to be the 'organic' CD and for the most part it is, but electronics do creep into the sound processing, and electric bass and keyboards (unless you're strictly playing acoustic piano, which Nistri isn't) are electronic. Be that as it may, this CD has more of a band sound with continuity throughout. The opening track begins with spoken word (in Italian, of course) and melancholy strings with a little flute, clarinet and bass, followed by guitar and viola carrying the melody. It's a bit reminiscent of In The Nursery. A little rattling percussion then the band launches into a semi-psychedelic modal trip that reminds me of Gong, sans Daevid Allen's Flying Teapots and Pothead Pixies, perhaps with a touch of Jade Warrior.
Most all of the lyrics to the songs are actually sung (rather than spoken as on the first CD), once again in Italian, getting a bit closer to mainstream. 'Amber' is an exotic superb piece that could have gone for twice its length and I'd have been very happy. Jazzy, trippy, exotic, a wonderful blending of so many cool elements. The band rocks out on the next number ' 'Bruciando il Piccolo Padre' (By the Burning Little Father ?) with some very frenetic vocals by Tilli, and bodacious drumming by Pino Gulli. 'Cose Che Rompono' is a bouncy number and the closest thing to a traditional song so far. After the mostly placid 'Wormhole', the band heads off into Legendary Pink Dots territory with 'Il Mare E' Scomparso'. The downtempo 'Deposito 423' features some very rich musical interplay between all the musicians, and very memorable vocal line. I don't know exactly why, but this track made me think of Zappa. The finale, 'C'E' Ancora Vita Su Marte' ('There is Still Life on Mars') gives some of the lead vocal over to Giulia Sarno and it's nice to hear an upfront female voice for a change. The final few lines ' 'There is Still Life on Mars' are the only lyrics sung in English. Maybe if there had been more, I would had have liked it better, but overall, this CD was very enjoyable.

In conclusion, this is music for the adventurous, those seeking something beyond the boundaries of the conventional, and genres be damned. This boxed set is a very mixed bag; there were parts I didn't much care for, parts I absolutely loved, and also some that I merely though was okay. Europeans will probably dig this more than Americans in general, partly because of the language thing, and partly because Americans tend to get confused, disoriented, and disaffected when presented with so much diversity. But- if you think you really have eclectic tastes, you should give Deadburger Factory a shot. Your biggest challenge may be actually acquiring it.

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