Some albums simply defy categorisation - they flip you the bird, whenever you try and squeeze them into a narrow corner - so you can better chat to your friends on the interwebs about that new post-zeuhl- grindcore-sludge-electronic-dub-step-metal-polka release that just blows you away.
Pepe Maina was suggested for Krautrock a little while back after having had a kind treatment at the pomodoro section here at PA. The truth is that he really doesn't fit in with any of our labels, and that in itself makes him all the more interesting to me. We use these monikers as navigation tools, or at least we should - just as we all use certain words for shoes and milkshakes - so as we all can better communicate with each other, - but sometimes things can get a little out of hand - especially if we start identifying music with genres and suddenly chalk up invisible lines between artists and imaginable barriers of what we think is the right way to sound - at least if you're a prog folk outfit...
This album is a beautiful mix of folk, Krautrock, electronic, psychedelia and small doses of tiny invigorating Spanish peppercorns from the highest peaks of Andorra and that little tree- you know down the road: Aaaahh Pine! Who cares? I hear a lot of acoustic guitar work on this album, that mostly sounds like a highly talented musician strumming away in his room - leaning up against a wall with his old faithful instrument - picking the strings as if he was trying to get it in tune - wandering restlessly around the sonic perimeter with nothing on his mind except for that fleeting ever so gentle groove. It's what I'd call intoxicating meanderings on an acoustic guitar. Whatever it is - it sure is dazzling. Then you get wafting breezes of synths - that are so lenient and light-hearted that at first I completely mistook them for a flute. They back up the guitars in an atmospheric kind of way - even if they sound like air hitting air - or like shaking hands with a mute dove.
WORLD MUSIC!!!!!! Yes that's perhaps the word for this album! Man, if only I had the time and patience to rearrange my brain, making it more structured and pliable, but that's not going to happen any time soon. But yes world music is perhaps what most people would call this magic venture, although I must confess that Keishiro said it best, when he simply called Pepe's music freak folk, but I digress...
Imagine Mike Oldfield sitting around in a park with some hippie folk musicians - suddenly realising that the bonfire is talking Polish to him and the trees have shifted colours - now presenting themselves in orangy and purple silhouettes - all of them wearing huge hats with small foxes in them who keep singing old Madonna hits from the 80s. "Boy, somebody must've spiked my drink!" And so good ol' Mike finds himself in quite the pickle, but decides to use this newly found strangeness to something constructive and heads on down to the studio with a couple of blue elephants(or so they called themselves at least. These were in fact some of the folk musicians, but let's not spoil the experience for Mike here eh?)- all walking around with clay drums and great big pipes under their trunks. Consumed by all the colours of the rainbow and wild zooming ideas that multiply themselves like a physics reaction gone horribly wrong - the music keeps revealing itself to him, whilst at the same time evaporating into thin air. Instant composition and then not really, it is as if the music flows on by like a rendez-vous - a sudden glimpse of the future, and then it gets channelled through the strings of the guitar like deep caressing strokes of love.
Of course I am still in the midst of conveying the true Pepe Maina, but the picture of Mike Oldfield on mescalin seems forever tattooed in my mind. Those wandering folky textures with intimate percussive features - truly feel like a deranged version of Ommadawn.
Some of the tracks here are more concise and 'structured' than others, and especially the aptly named Spring Song with its playful usage of the electric guitar - seems like something that may have had a history - an idea behind - something scribbled down on a toilet at some point, when the notes or chords suddenly felt like presenting themselves. The track is like an irrefutable sonic ode to springtime. It feels like having been locked up with the flu in a dark damp room for a couple of decades, and then kicking open the balcony doors - getting bathed in warm and healing sunlight - sniffing in the air like a bloodhound on coke. It's beautiful and pretty without those plastic and ill favoured connotations one often finds in said adjectives.
I guess most of this album is pretty. It's got a forest feel to it, and I've more than once brought it with me whilst strolling through narrow pathways - little green worlds in the outskirts of my backyard. It feels organic like no other record in my collection - like miking up a shrubbery with the intent of publishing it as your own musical escapade.
Review by Guldbamsen
Collaborator Prog Electronic, Psych/Space, New Bands
1) Il canto dell'arpa
2) Il canto dell'arpa e del flauto (part 1)
3) Il canto dell'arpa e del flauto (part 2)
4) Spring song
5) Two balls & Afrika
6) Il canto dell'arpa e del flauto (part 3)
7) San Nicola