Living Stilts — Shipwreck
(Azafrán Media AP1421, 2014, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2014-11-25Living Stilts is yet another project band built around a keyboard player, in this case Italian composer Luca Mavilla. For his debut release, Mavilla went the concept album route, spinning a tale literally taken from the album title. Individual songs move the plot and characters along with the compositions tailored to support the narrative. The closest comparison I can draw is Clive Nolan’s recent theatrical albums She and Alchemy. On that score Shipwreck works, with some effective storytelling and enough drama to make the 14 tracks (which include segments featuring sound effects and recorded dialog) a suitable page-turner. Musically the album is hit or miss. Like Nolan, Mavilla employs male and female singers (Antonio Bella and Maria Tomasello) to relate his character’s stories. The female parts are lovely though Bella might rub some the wrong way. His English is noticeably accented and when the songs rock he sounds like Pendragon’s Nick Barrett but without the feisty English spirit. It’s also here that the album falls flat, with songs like “A Dicer’s Oath” failing the toughness test badly. The better tracks, like “Vertical Memories” and “The Traveler,” tap into late-60s/mid-70s Pink Floyd to create effective sonic dramas. As a musician Mavilla is impressive, demonstrating his skills at faithfully recreating various instruments on his keyboards (I could swear electric guitar is featured though none is credited). For a debut Shipwreck shows promise. As long as Mavilla plays to his strengths future efforts will certainly be worth a listen.
Related artist(s): Living Stilts
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more