Il Ballo delle Castagne — Soundtrack for an Unreleased Herzog Movie
(Hau Ruck! SPQR XXXV, 2015, CD)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2016-05-07
Il Ballo delle Castagne is an Italian band formed in 2007 by two musicians from different musical backgrounds: Vinz Aquarian (lyrics and vocals) and Marco Garegnani (keyboards, guitar, sitar, and percussion). The other band members are Diego Banchero (bass), Roberto Lucanato (guitars), and Jo Jo (drums and percussion). Their band name means The Chestnuts Ball and was inspired by a legend about Pope Alexander VI (1431 - 1503) and his “Satanic Sabbath” where naked women would dance in candlelight picking up chestnuts from the floor with their mouths. The music on Soundtrack for an Unreleased Herzog Movie is a based on demos they recorded and decided not to include on their previous two albums. For this new release, they decided to revisit and expand upon the demos. The album was originally released on LP and has now been remastered and expanded by two bonus tracks. The album title and the music is a quiet obvious homage to both Popol Vuh and film maker Werner Herzog, but with a twist. Il Ballo delle Cassagne’s gothic and dark sound intertwines with Popol Vuh’s spirituality. At times they flirt with Antonius Rex. The CD contains seven instrumental tracks. The opening track “In the Garden of Popol Vuh,” uses samples of ethereal female choir voices, harpsichord, and piano. The composition reminds me a bit of Popol Vuh’s Sie Still, Wisse ICH BIN. The second track, “Lentus in Umbra,” is a mixture of piano, harpsichord, and odd synth sounds for the first two minutes, then it takes on some form with a rhythmic sequence much like Tangerine Dream. Acoustic guitar and sitar join the mix and the music moves closer to Popol Vuh territory. Even though track 3, “Il Pianto di Cristo su Gerusalemme,” is about Jesus, the Italian narration / chanting and gothic sound reminds me of Herzog’s Nosferatu. This is a very strong instrumental that drifts far away from Popol Vuh. “Profumi d’Oriente” contains some Arabian themes and what sounds like Mellotron. Track 5 “Sicut in Caelo” is a minimal piece with piano and Italian narration that could have been included in a 70s vampire movie. “Il Sole Muore” opens with a beautiful cathedral organ. And the disc closes with “6:35 Minuten vor dem Ende der Zeit Explodiert die Erde,” a composition with strong Far Eastern influence much in the vein of Jade Warrior. The music on this disc is wonderful, but I think that they did themselves a disservice by the deliberate references to Popol Vuh as the music may not appeal to Florian Fricke’s fans.
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more