Saturday, December 18, 2010

Review: Picchio Dal Pozzo - A Live (2010, Altr0ck)

This release captures the live show of Picchio Dal Pozzo along with Yugen at the 2008 Altr0ck festival. The concert features 5 songs form their first album, the single, Uccellin Del Bosco, from the Abbiamo period, one from Camere and one from Pic_Nic. The closing track is a re-discovered lost track from the Abbiamo album that a fan had on cassette and passed it to the band.
I've already disclosed my high opinion of Yugen in the reviews for their albums and I am also a fan of Picchio Dal Pozzo, having three of their four releases, so it was exciting to hear about a concert they'd be playing together, the music of Picchio Dal Pozzo. These two groups don't sound alike, but both represent an experimental musical spirit, an ambitious and forward thinking approach. And so having them unite on stage, old and new guard, is definitely an event to anticipate.

First of all the sound is great; full, rich and clear. One can discern the instruments playing and the small details. Also, even though the music played has a wide dynamic range, this does not affect the qualities of the recording and both the high and low ends are heard quite well (though the bass distortion in "Il Presidente" is sometimes on the edge). Second, they don't just play the old tunes; they refresh them, expand, prolong and bring new life into them. It's like hearing these songs for the first time again, I get as excited as then. And so if one (such as I do frequently) asks "why would I get this live show if I can hear the original songs on the album?", then I'd tell them because the band doesn't simply play these songs without thought and just spews them out. They practiced with Yugen and came up with different versions of the songs; not that they completely changed them, but they've certainly altered them in terms of length and structure as well as in sound and layering. But most importantly is the passion and dedication that come out of the musicians playing. Obviously this is subjective, but the feeling I get from listening is that they are thrilled to play this music, have fun doing it and give their fullest to create this great sounding concert.

If you're a fan of the band, I highly recommend this release; it's like re-discovering the band. If you're new to the band and don't know them well or at all, this is a good as any entry point (though I always prefer getting studio albums in chronological order). In any case, this is an accomplished performance that's deserving of praise.

Here are some clips from that concert:

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