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Ske — Insolubilia
(Bandcamp no#, 2021, CD / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-08-28Ske is the project of Italian composer and keyboardist Paolo Botta, who is a member of the AltrOck label bands Yūgen and Not a Good Sign, and has also been associated with Ciccada, Homunculus Res, Picchio dal Pozzo and other groups. Ske’s first release was 1000 Autunni from 2011, since re-released as 1001 Autunni in 2018 with a bonus live disc. Ten years on, Insolubilia is only the project’s second release, and like its predecessor is produced by Marcello Marinone (even though it’s not on AltrOck) and involves many of the musicians that Botta has worked with over the past ten years or so, in particular from Yūgen, guitarist Francesco Zago, percussionist Jacopo Costa, pianist Maurizio Fasoli, clarinetist Valerio Cipollone, violinist Elia Leon Mariani, and from Not a Good Sign bassist Alessandro Cassani and drummer Martino Malacrida, but other bassists play, track depending including Keith Macksoud (Present), Fabio Pignatelli (Goblin), and Pierre Wawrzyniak (Camembert), along with harpist Guillaume Gravelin from Camembert also, Tomasso Leddi of Stormy Six on mandolin, and members of Rational Diet, Ciccada, and many other groups performing on just about every instrument imaginable, as well as several female singers (Thea Ellingsen Grant, Melanie Gerber, Maria Denami) track depending, even though this is predominantly an instrumental album, most of the vocals are wordless, but there are exceptions. So how can one describe this music? With so many players and instruments on these eleven tracks, it is definitely complex, dense, and amazingly heavily layered, residing somewhere between the worlds of classical, progressive rock, and avant-garde, yet very melodic and listenable throughout. The four minute opener “Sudo” really sets the stage for what follows, combining stunning prog-rock elements with all manner of melodies provided by flute, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, mandolin, harmonium, and more, driven forward by Botta’s keyboards. Mention must be made of the adventurous five-part title track, although the five parts don’t appear together, or even in order, instead mostly scattered among the other compositions; parts V, IV and III (in that order) do appear together as the final three cuts. Other tracks of special note include the pastoral “La Stagna del Proverbio,” with piano guiding a beautiful melody on trumpet supplied by Luca Calabrese of Isildurs Bane, with beautiful vocals floating in the background. “Scogli-4” is even more curious, introduced by bass clarinet, a harpsichord jumps in midway through (played by Lars Fredrik Frøislie of Wobbler) resulting in essentially a duo for clarinet and harpsichord for the remainder of its three minute duration. Insolubilia is at once interesting, powerful, and beautiful, delivering the goods on many levels, ranking among the best new releases of the year.
Related artist(s): Ske (Paolo Botta)
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