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Paolo Angeli Nita L'Angelo Sul Trapezio Review

Album. Released 2005.  

BBC Review

Italian guitarist and composer stitches together an eclectic 'imaginary soundtrack'...

Peter Marsh 2005

The idea of the 'invisible soundtrack' has been around for some while, but often it's turned out to be little more than a marketing ploy; a convenient peg from which to hang a bunch of disconnected pieces and give them some kind of conceptual unity.

That's definitely not the case with this offering from Italian composer and guitarist Paolo Angeli. Nita, (The Angel on the Trapeze). Though it's stylistically pretty diffuse, it all hangs together. It's difficult to imagine listening to just one track in isolation; this is an album to be listened to all the way through, with the eyes firmly closed.

Angeli has worked with Fred Frith on occasion, and shares a similarly eclectic approach. Like Frith's Gravity, Nita borrows from folk music(mainly Italian of course), Zappa, and from God knows where else (Ennio Morricone, Soft Machine and Van Dyke Parks spring to mind to name but three). Snatches of conversation and sound effects stitch the whole thing together; as a result there's a strong sense of narrative, from abrupt emotional scene-changing to gradual shifts in focus.

Not that it makes much sense, despite the explanatory sleevenotes - the lyrics (in a melange of languages) are a fragmented mix of first person stream of consciousness, vaguely surreal poetry, a spot of politics, banal error messages from automated telephone systems; it's all a bit Cocteau-esque, in short.

But if you don't want to bother decoding all that, you can just enjoy the music. And there's a lot to enjoy. Angeli's guitar playing is deftly virtuosic, but applied sparingly. Everything from accordions, hyperactive brass bands, doleful male voice choirs, childrens voices, celestial harpsand theremins drift in and out of the mix, but there's no kitchen sink - Angeli knows when to stop.

Bewildering and beautiful by turns, this is one of those records that I can imagine still offering up new pleasures ten years from now. And any record that's got close-harmony whistling on it has to be good. Highly recommended.

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