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Daal - Dances Of The Drastic Navels CD (album) cover

DANCES OF THE DRASTIC NAVELS

Daal

 

Eclectic Prog

4.05 | 176 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Occupying a particularly dark corner of the Italian Prog scene, DAAL, a duo comprised of Alfio Costa (with an army of vintage and modern keyboards) and Davide Guidoni (an assortment of acoustic and electronic drums/percussion), couldn't be further away from traditional RPI sounds. Instead, they favour a varied mix of very modern sounding dark electronics, classical sophistication and avant-garde sophistication in their music, and their fifth release since 2009 offers their heaviest, most gothic flavoured work to date. Predominantly instrumental, the bafflingly titled `Dances of the Drastic Navels' (a reference to several pieces from their previous albums) confirms that the band and their music keep growing in stature and maturity with each release, delivering more intricate and lavish music each time, trying to balance gloomy darkness with reassuring light, and it's one of the standout progressive releases, Italian or otherwise, of 2014.

Opener `Malleus Maleficarum' instantly grabs you by the throat and squeezes, an unholy trinity of shimmering electro-pop synth sleekness, intimidating slab-like sludgy metal riffing and eerie piano ambience. Davide's skittering clipped percussion loops and bashing drums, disorientating warping effects and hissing voices recall fellow Italian gloom-mongers Antonius Rex. The DAAL fellas seamlessly bring the piece out of a reflective ambient passage in the middle by way of heroic and grand electric guitar soloing, perfectly displaying their mastery of build and drama. `Elektra (An Evening With...)' opens in a very ambient manner with sustained electric guitar notes over gentle lapping washes of synths before lurching monolithic riffs oppress with a variety of twitching programmed beats. Fellow Italian prog-related musician Ettore Salati's emotional guitar ruminations make the piece resemble a more darkly symphonic version of Pink Floyd.

`Lillith' is a sorrowful, reflective, impossibly beautiful and fragile lament, like the most pitch-black morose version of King Crimson you've never heard before. Mud-thick Mellotron full of infernal regal majesty drones over ghostly piano, chiming acoustic guitar and groaning cello that puts most gothic bands to shame. The 24 minute title track epic has the band incorporating reprises and themes from previous instalments of the piece on past albums, but it more than stands on it's own feet. Due to the longer running time here, there's plenty of room for the band to deliver ambient and slowly building intimidating atmospheres. Droning treated voices, trickling electronic bleeds, hypnotic pounding drumming and maddening repetitive electric guitars wear down the listener. The second movement resembles a magical gothic pantomime, searing violin crying around ominous Mellotron, Bobo Aiolfi of Italian prog band Tilion's forceful bass and Alfio's cascading piano. The next passage moves into a nightmarish Tangerine Dream-like electronic breakdown before a Mellotron soaked King Crimson-styled symphonic finale, all delivered with power and grandiosity.

But the band save the best until last. Letizia Riccardi's weeping violin, stark piano, uneasy ambient white-noise and fluid fretless bass mourn together with guest Tirill Mohn's incomparable feminine sadness on the final piece `Inside You.' The Norwegian prog-folk artist, ex of White Willow, is no stranger to wounded yet hopeful music, and her voice here is defeated yet defiant, full of longing that cries tears of downbeat beauty. This exquisite closer is one of the absolute greatest and most moving moments to appear on a progressive music release in all of 2014.

Band member Alfio spoke of isolating himself away to write the compositions for this album, and that sense of loneliness and seclusion permeates the entire disc. With it's sinister and unsettling cover artwork to the gothic inspired creeping suspense with the music itself, DAAL's fascination with real mood and black atmosphere ensures the album is their most cultivated and mature work so far. Those who find darker Italian prog artists, as well as the poetic sadness of bands like My Dying Bride will very much relate to this one, and even more adventurous metal and gothic fans will find plenty to interest them here. It's amazing to discover how DAAL keep refining and perfecting their mix of dark ambience with modern electronics, and it's another winner for the Italian duo. As mentioned at the beginning, it just may also be one of the standout moments in progressive music in 2014...if you don't mind a walk on the dark side!

Four and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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