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El-Muniria Stanza 218 Review

Album. Released 2004.  

BBC Review

Spoken word and post rock soundscaping mix in a Moroccan hotel room...

Lara Bellini 2004

El-Muniria is the offspring of one of the most daring and radical Italian bands of the 90s: Emidio Clementi's Massimo Volume. A band capable of re-writing post-rock with a unique and intimately visceral alphabet. A band that stretched the might of the spoken word to its very limits.

The group set themselves a project: to write an album in a Tangiers hotel room (the Room 218 of the title); the same hotel where allegedly almost 40 years ago, William Burroughs wrote The Naked Lunch.

But it doesn't take long for this musical and personal journey to take its toll. From an original ensemble of four, only Emidio Clementi (voice, bass) and Massimo Carozzi (sampling, turntables, System 100) remain by the end of the sessions. The album is re-assembled back in Bologna and takes two years to finish, with the collaboration of some of the finest musicians in the Italian underground scene. This reshuffle understandably shifts the album closer to Italy - Morocco, the original source of inspiration, turns into a background setting.

The result of such artistic resilience is an intensely gutsy and nocturnal album, with a vivid emotional texturecarried byClementi's spellbinding narrative.

The sound glows dark and liquid, while at the same time being stripped bare into a rough grain of minimal noise, with metallic samples, distorted guitar and an almost obsessive sense of pulse (somewhat reminiscent of Radiohead, Massive Attack and other post-rockers of US descent). The spoken word is kept evocatively simple; the lyrical content is deeply reflective.

Nonetheless the overall mood is never overwhelmingly heavy. It's beautifully lyrical. Peaks include the occasional singing (Luca Gemma on the opening "Santo"); the minimal ambience of "Fino in fondo", and the psychedelic "Forse tra un attimo" (spiced with a vague Yo La Tengo flavour).

Stanza 218 is a work made from the most precious fabric. A cinematic soundtrack for an emotional journey.

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