Empty Days — Empty Days
(AltrOck Productions ALT 036, 2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-12-30Guitarist and composer Francesco Zago is one busy guy. When he’s not working hard on new recordings for his main band Yugen, he’s busy turning out side projects for the AltrOck label at the rate of about four per year, either as a project leader and composer, or as a band member or guest player. With Empty Days, he is the primary composer and leader, who along with other members of Yugen (most notably pianist Maurizio Fasoli, keyboardist Paolo Botta, percussionist Giuseppe Olivini, and mallet percussionist Jacopo Costa) along with other players and guests has created an ambient medieval project around the voice of Elaine DiFalco (Thinking Plague, 3 Mice, Hughscore and others) who also sang on the 2010 Yugen album Iridule. But even though most Yugen members are on board, this is very far from what a listener would expect from that band, and thus deserves separate project status in its very own musical universe. Introspective medieval songcraft, featuring DiFalco’s voice often in multi-layered harmonies, are tastefully interleaved with ambient and explorative abstractions, creating a beautiful flow that is at once warm, dark, and textural. The vocal pieces are somewhere near folk music, but with an ancient feel, while the ambient instrumental interludes that tie them together can go just about anywhere, like gentle threads of sound intertwined with perceptual sonic fragments. To further underscore its aims, Zago has included two pieces by 17th century English composer John Dowland – “In Darkness Let Me Dwell,” and “Flow My Tears,” the latter featuring guest vocalist Rachel O’Brien. In all, this is a stunning and beautifully executed collection of songs and sounds that deserves to be heard.
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more