Empty Days — Empty Days
(AltrOck Productions ALT 036, 2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-12-30Guitarist and composer Francesco Zago is one busy guy. When he’s not working hard on new recordings for his main band Yugen, he’s busy turning out side projects for the AltrOck label at the rate of about four per year, either as a project leader and composer, or as a band member or guest player. With Empty Days, he is the primary composer and leader, who along with other members of Yugen (most notably pianist Maurizio Fasoli, keyboardist Paolo Botta, percussionist Giuseppe Olivini, and mallet percussionist Jacopo Costa) along with other players and guests has created an ambient medieval project around the voice of Elaine DiFalco (Thinking Plague, 3 Mice, Hughscore and others) who also sang on the 2010 Yugen album Iridule. But even though most Yugen members are on board, this is very far from what a listener would expect from that band, and thus deserves separate project status in its very own musical universe. Introspective medieval songcraft, featuring DiFalco’s voice often in multi-layered harmonies, are tastefully interleaved with ambient and explorative abstractions, creating a beautiful flow that is at once warm, dark, and textural. The vocal pieces are somewhere near folk music, but with an ancient feel, while the ambient instrumental interludes that tie them together can go just about anywhere, like gentle threads of sound intertwined with perceptual sonic fragments. To further underscore its aims, Zago has included two pieces by 17th century English composer John Dowland – “In Darkness Let Me Dwell,” and “Flow My Tears,” the latter featuring guest vocalist Rachel O’Brien. In all, this is a stunning and beautifully executed collection of songs and sounds that deserves to be heard.
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more