Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Ambigram — Ambigram
(Ma.Ra.Cash Records MRC063, 2021, CD / DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2022-07-08
Any band that names itself with a term coined by Douglas Hofstadter starts out with points in its favor, but luckily this Italian outfit has way more going for it than just a clever name. Ambigram was formed by bassist / producer Massimo Marchini and guitarist Giuseppe “Beppe” Lombardo, who recruited singer Francesco Rapaccioli and drummer Gigi Cavalli Cocchi to fill out the band. They work with numerous others on this debut album, including Annie Barbazza (lead and backing vocals), Marco Rancati (backing vocals), Paolo Tofani (guitar synthesizer), Max Repetti (keyboards), Camillo Mozzoni (oboe), and Paola Folli (vocals). The compositions are credited to Marchini, Cocchi, and Barbazza. The group does a splendid job of balancing artistic expression and tuneful accessibility, so that complex pieces appear deceptively simple upon first listen but reveal depth with each subsequent play. Rapaccioli’s expressive voice is upfront much of the time, and he is certainly up to the task, with a slightly gritty tone and an impressive range. The music features nods to progressive styles of the past but is rooted in the present, though not in any kind of transitive, trendy way. There are eight tracks in the three-to-eight minute range (plus a bonus radio edit version of one), and every track is a solid winner. Repetti’s keyboards are usually in a supporting role, with Cocchi’s guitars more prominent, but there are moments for him to shine throughout the album. I’m not aware of many previous credits for either Cocchi or Rapaccioli, but they are both outstanding, and we’ll surely be seeing more of them in the future, hopefully including further Ambigram recordings. With their self-titled debut, Ambigram steps directly into a position of prominence among contemporary Italian bands.
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