7 November 2015

PASTEL - L'Acchiappanuvole

PASTEL - I know nothing about them, seriously I cannot even give that much after looking at their Bandcamp and Facebook page.  This is their bio on each page - PASTEL is an instrumental | postpunk band. 2013.  That is it, so to give an introduction for this album is a bit like trying to read a leaflet with six words for more than an hour, it is not gonna take too long.  When I received their email it was very polite and did offer further information, but usually I like to research a bit and find out stuff from the band in an old school style.  For all the hunting I completed, the only pieces of information I can get from these pages is that the members of the band are called A & V (which I have since found out stands for Andrea & Vito) and that they are from Bari in Italy; so this is really going to be a case of little information and it is straight on with the music.

Starting the album is "Il Lancio Kàrmàn" which translates to The Kàrmàn Launch, it is released in feedback before the drums and guitar unite in a way that will make Biffy Clyro yearn for their previous days.  It is a frantic release of energy which dives between behemoth size riffs, haunting harmonics and all out lunacy the makes this song bounce straight into the second song - "Il Pendolo, L'Orologiaio" which means "The Pendulum, The Watch repairer" which is moves as if it is stuck on shifting tides, the ground never stays still with this band and it builds up incredibly well for a song that is only just over two minutes in length. It goes between slower, intense moments and sections that are full of energy and drive the song as if it is racing through a field.  It is a great song, but it feels like you have come in at a juncture of the album; not an individual track. It is much the same for "La Scatola, Il Crocevia" (in English translates to "The Box, The Crossroad"), which if I was to pick a singular section of this album as the track of the record, it would be this sonic drop of joy. It is one of the shortest songs of the year that just grabs you by the heart, runs as if there are demons chasing you and will not let go.  It has the best riff/harmonic section at towards the end of the song and it has been stuck in my head for days since I started to listen to the album for reviewing purposes.  I think it was at this point that I started to fall for the album, it has a mixture of textures just works on so many levels - beautiful.

As the feedback merges from "La Scatola, Il Crocevia", we are introduced to "Interlude I" which is an atmospheric noise piece that will have shoegazers around the world wishing it was stretched out for another five hours. But even though it is an interlude, it is longer than some of the normal songs on this album - no idea why, but it feels right.  After the frantic opening trio, it gives the album a brief pause before jumping straight into "I Love You, Tempesta" (translation - "I Love You, Storm") which in its brief one minute frame brings more styles than you will find one a three hours talent show that seems to be reproduced around the world on a Saturday night.  It has a bit of everything that the band have done on each number here, it also ends in a sudden burst of thunder as it really gets in its groove.  This is probably so that it can drop into "L'Alchimista" (translation - "The Alchemist") which starts with wonderful drifting noise and swirling loops that you can sink into (if it was around long enough for you to get a chance); but PASTEL are not going to let that happen and we are soon dragged around another storming song that has moments of frantic attack, attack, attack and then goes for a slower assault on the listener before they drop the odd beautiful harmonic once more like droplets of joy to the proceedings.

The feedback at the end of "L'Alchimista" fades to "Interlude II" which introduces a piano, mechanical noise effects, what sounds like a recorder being played backwards and forwards, maybe a harmonica in there too?  Anyway, it is all high pitch and sends a feedback with reverberates around the listener as it makes way for the almost four minute epic (for this album - it is the longest tack) "La Macchina Cantastorie" (translation - "The Storyteller") which is the first of the main tracks to not have any vocals (sorry for all the brackets, but on a side note; on the physical releases and streaming sites, this album is released with both vocal and instrumental versions of all the songs). Due to its length, it is the one which has the most durability as a song to stand out on its own for this album, but it is no match for the fierce "La Scatola, Il Crocevia".  However, it does have the greater selection of moods for this album; alternating between dramatic riffs that give the listener something to hang onto, moody swirls with pianos and gentle percussion with some sections that are a mixture of both.  It is a good number that is helped on by the other songs on this album, a point I will be getting to later.  However, next on the agenda is the penultimate song for this album which is called "Il Ciclo Okta" (translation - "The Okta Cicle").  It is back on the hectic train ride that is PASTEL at this point as you are straight into a titanic riff that goes like a juggernaut and then stops at just under two minutes.  It might be because the band might combust if they went any further, but it does further fuel the feeling that whilst it is a strong song, it is just another section of something much greater.  The album ends on the surprising title track "L'Acchiappanuvole" (translation - "The Cloudcatcher") which goes all acoustic, pianos and strings.  It is a welcome surprise to this record, it gives you the chance to relax after what seems like an explosion has just happened in your facility.  It is a brilliant ending to one of the surprises of 2015.

Now whilst these song are short, sharp blasts to deliverer an intense experience, this album is best played as one glorious long whole experience.  Individually the songs seem to feel as if you are looking at one small, but vitally important section of a glorious machine that requires all ten parts to work as a whole. It just feels better when you play the all in a row and you get all those little highs and lows swimming around to make a complete number that mesh so well together, it is truly made greater by the sum of all of its individual parts.  I was not planning to get into this till next week, but after one listen it changed all my plans.  If there was one thing that would have made it better, maybe a few longer tracks - but that is personal preference and does not detract from the album at all.  A + V (aka PASTEL, aaka Andrea & Vito), whilst we may not know too much about you, we salute this brilliant record you have created.  I would recommend checking out both the vocal and instrumental versions of the songs, as they give different dynamics with each interpretation.  A great album from these Italian men of mystery.

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost

Top song - La Scatola, Il Crocevia

You can purchase the album on various formats on the PASTEL Bandcamp page here

You can follow the activities of PASTEL on Facebook here

You can stream L'Acchiappanuvole on Spotify here (with extra instrumental tracks)

You can stream L'Acchiappanuvole on Deezer here (with extra instrumental tracks)

You can stream L'Acchiappanuvole on Tidal here (with extra instrumental tracks)

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