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
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
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more