Stereokimono - Ki

Year of Release: 2000
Label: IrIdea Records
Catalog Number: 2000-11-03
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:09:00

Psycophonic Oblique Rock. Those are the words printed across the back of this beautifully packaged release from Stereokimono, Ki. What does Psychophonic Oblique Rock mean? It means you are in for a sonic treat, especially once into the heart of the album. As if they used their very good stuff up front to lure you into the excellent material in the middle. One track does feel like it loses it's way a bit, but overall, this debut album from Stereokimono is very impressive.

As much as I do it, I hate to fall back on "sounds like," but when you have music that defies an easy two or three word description, one has to resort to name dropping. At least to give you some bearings. Here are two of my reference points -- French TV and Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic. Complex and intricate arrangements that take their time to unfold and go into unexpected directions. See, even that has more than two or three words. Like French TV, Stereokimono can be playful, as with "Il Nulla Respira" which concludes the album -- throbbing bass under a jaunty guitar phrase, soft percussion keeping everything humming along. And hum you can to this one... do ti-do ti-do ti-do... Okay, what really concludes the album is some spoken words -- it sounds like it's backwards, given the way the sounds glide, but also like you are being brought out of your hypnosis.

So anyway, Stereokimono are an Italian band who formed in 1989 but didn't release their first album until November 2000. Here are two contrasts with this band. The first track, "Eh! Ah!" is an energetic RIO like piece. The second track begins in a somewhat spacey, atmospheric way for the first 2 minutes, but then suddenly picks up the pace with a loping rhythm, fuzzed guitars (Antonio Severi) and interesting keyboard pushes ... Pushes? Well, it's not so much that the sounds shoot across but more that they are pushing something out of the way -- preconceived notions of progressive avant-garde jazz rock instrumental music I suppose. They aren't harsh, but... I envisioned a colourful rectangle sweeping across a starfield. (What do you mean, what am I on?... :-) ) The band has two keyboardists, Severi and Alex Vittorio, who also, and perhaps firstly, plays bass. Rounding out this trio is Christina Atzori on drums and percussion. This sounds much bigger than a trio, however. The RIO and space elements form a part of nearly every track...

The longest track is "Phileas Fogg," which also begins in a rather arty atmospheric way with guitar effects. It goes many places in its 11-plus minute journey, the next stop giving us a moody, ruminating bass -- Mushroom and Djam Karet both come to mind here. More interesting guitar effects, picking up on the bass' lead. And, wouldn't you know, there's a passage here that reminds me of something latter day King Crimson might do. Angular, aggressive guitar leads that slash, damaging but not fatal. More than half way through, everything shifts into a jazzy, organ lead piece. This might be a little too eclectic for being contained in one track, as there are separate and discrete sections, even if the one melds into the other.

"Per Vederlo Devi Chiudere Gli Occhi" is a jazzy, upbeat piece, "L'Altra Marea" (second longest at 8:33) is downright ambient. Water effects and sparse, plucked guitar strings provide an eerie setting. It's like, in some ways, The X-Files type of music... this gives way to symphonic passages that are quite nice. Fans of modern, non-angular modern prog, will like this section -- echoes of Marillion, Galahad, ...Yes, in a way... parpy keys, shimmering guitars, taut drumming and keening sound effects. The bass work in this passage reminds me of Tony Levin ... it's the most "conventional" this band gets... and just as you think that, the rhythm kicks up a gear. The description included here says, "Electrical waves and magnetic currents for a futuristic waltz in 3/4 to try out in the dance hall of a sidereal spaceship cruiser ..."

"Istanbul Di Giorno" is spacey as well, just enough glitter to be perfect for a planetarium show. The middle-eastern accents in this are quite nice, danceable. Other than the meter, the above quote might also describe this. It's during this track that you will really thank yourself for a having a really good stereo. There are minute details that anything else would bury.

Though intentional, buried would be okay with one half of "Concerto N.1 Per Pianoforte E Sgabello." It's the sgabello that I have the problem with. It is trying to rise above it's station and compete with the pianoforte... or as the band note, "The (creaking) piano-stool, envious of the instrument, attempts to become a violin... Plink! Plink! Sgrrrrieeeeccckkkk!" (their comment is funnier than mine -- makin' me the sgabello, I 'spose).

About the packaging, it's a colourful gatefold digipack, illustrated with photos of the band. The CD itself comes in its own sleeve and tucked into the other side's pocket is a single fold booklet where comments on the pieces, in English, are given (and the English titles, as the songs on the actual digipack are in Italian).

This is a very good debut ...the equivilent of a 9/10. [And now that we're rating, make that more 4.5 or 4.75 out of 5? -ed.] At last check of their website, work was progressing on their second album which they said (in May) would be out in a few months, so there's something to look forward to. Meanwhile, you'll want to pick this one up.

Eh! Ah! (4:53) / Apoteotico (Apotheosis) (4:52) / Phileas Fogg (11:11) / Per Verderlo Devi Chiudere Gli Occhi (In Order To See It You Have To Close Your Eyes) (4:11) / L'Altra Marea (A Different Tide) (8:33) / Istanbul Di Giorno (Istanbul By Day) (5:58) / Concerto N. 1 Per Pianoforte E Sgabello (Concerto N.1 For Piano And Stool) (0:58) / Il Nulla Respira (The Nothingness Breathes) (7:24)

Cristina Atzori - drums, percussion
Antonio Severi - electric, acoustic and midi guitars, keyboards
Alex Vittorio - bass, keyboards

Ki (2000)
Primosfera (2003)

Genre: RIO

Origin IT

Added: June 26th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 544
Language: english


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