That stunning art work tells you that this is another very promising El Paraiso release. But actually this is something more because, while every release on the Odense-based label is something to behold, this feels a little bit special. Actually it feels like when I first heard one of my favourite releases of theirs, the ‘Psicomagia‘ which was both different and brilliant from the minute I heard it, and this is praise indeed because I still rate that album very highly indeed.
Futuropaco is the project of Justin Pinkerton, drummer with Californian band Golden Void; but one that is somewhat different from that band’s output. But let’s be clear straight away that this is the work of a talented multi-instrumentalist who plays on everything on this cracker of an album. That’s because Pinkerton also works as a film composer, something that is very evident here as repeated listens gradually explore the sonic topology of what are interesting aural vistas that take in many different genre from psych rock to jazz to the likes of Can and Morricone.
Album opener ‘Fantasma Arancione’ begins with the drums front and centre, but they quickly begin to move down in the mix as guitar and synths kick in as if telling you that this is not going to be an ordinary rock album. Very soon it feels like we are in a 1970s world of soundtrack and rock excess that introduces the first of a series of sonic hybrids that mark this album out. Dual explorations that seem just to work at every turn.
After that ‘La Torre Cade’ heads off at a real pace, drums again leading the way before some really bright beats kick in and add a touch of summery warmth to the mix. The organ on this is terrifically light. You could be in an Italian movie, again in the 1970s, but with a somewhat heavier back beat. The arrangements and melodies are the sort that just melt inside you and you somehow feel so much better having listened to it…
‘Bambino Tiranno’ takes it down a notch. Here there is that mix of old-school soundtracks but here with a fuzz guitar intervening every so often, both of which combine to give a less upbeat air. As the track progresses it gets more intense as other layers are gentle placed on. Again the arrangement is just spot on as the music paints pictures in front of your mind…
Just are you are being lulled into some sort of idyll, however, ‘Seppelire Fascisti’ hits you right between the eyes. There’s a real punk sensibility to this. It feels like music from some sort of parallel universe where bands of the late 70s has been more influenced by Morricone and taken his music and made it their own. Once again I just love the hybrid nature of this work, which here feels more angry and direct… but still there is that jazz quality underpinning everything which I am sure will make further listens even more appealing.
That jazz approach possibly dominates a bit more in ‘Fuoco Palude’, although the fuzz also steps up a gear here too. This is one of those tracks that both sounds familiar and at the same time so utterly fresh. You’ve a feeling that you’ve heard it before, but it sounds so new that you really could not have. Here there are almost two grooves going on, but working side by side to augment each other. Again the melodies just catch you and take you on a joyous ride through the music.
‘Peste Rossa’ is back to a more heavy approach. This is real El Paraiso territory, and you could imagine the sort of intro to this track being on Causa Sui or Papir albums. But then the different arrangements come in and you are again in that hybrid world that seems to work so well in Pinkerton’s hands. Like every track this is different again with that fuzz guitar almost overwhelming the synths, but never quite.
The album has definitely taken a heavy turn now, which continues with ‘La Pura Bianco’, but just when you think you’re starting to get a handle on the track it heads off in a different direction. I have to say that the drumming, which is great throughout, is particularly intense here… and really needs to be given the complex nature of the music that is swirling around them. It’s hard to get your breath until the break at around two minutes which the track bridges quietly before building up again towards a hectic climax.
‘Re Di Mezogne’ is different again partially through Pinkerton’s use of sax, but there’s more going on here too. The lightness is back here after a few darker tracks and once again you feel yourself getting dragged along by a real festival of sounds which just open out into a glorious sax solo halfway through which just takes it all to another level. As with most other tracks here you cannot believe how short they are because there is just so much going on in them.
This concludes with ‘Ballare Sulla Tua Tomb’ which is a more abstract piece reminiscent of Italian occult film music, and is something of a diversion even for this album. The drums are replaced by different percussive elements and there’s a slightly sinister jauntiness to the track that seems to veer between the comic and the tragic. It’s a somewhat leftfield end to an album that in someways feels like the work of a restless mind seeking to try out different combinations of music without ever settling on one. This is also its strength though, as we are taken through a series of numbers that could each in themselves be developed far more. This concentration of ideas means that every listen is rewarded with something different, and I for one can’t wait to see them opening up in from of my ears.
‘Futuropaco’ is available to pre-order now at El Paraiso Records here.
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