A band I knew nothing of before receiving this album, I gradually became entranced by their psychedelic music.
Il Ballo delle Castagne are an Italian band, now consisting of four members, but started out in 2007 with two of them: Vinz (vocals) and Marco Garegnani (keyboards, guitars, sitar, samples). The other two musicians are Diego Banchero (bass) and Jo Jo (drums). Vinz is also in Calle Della Morte. Marco is in The Green Man. Diego is in Ediga Aurea, Recondita Stirpe, Malombra and Segno Del Comando. This album, Kalachakra, is inspired by the documentary “Kalachakra: The Wheel Of Time”, by Werner Herzog about the ritual of the same name in which Tibetan Buddhist monks become ordained.
The album’s songs offer a wide range of styles and moods and as such display little coherent sound by the band. The opening song for instance, Passioni Daiboliche, is a rich and heavy rock piece with prominent keyboards and supporting guitar work, male and female vocals and a beautiful musical peak at the end with piercing keyboards-produced string sounds.
But this song is typical of only half of the album. This release presents to facets of the band: a slow and eerie psychedelic and experimental side, and a more melodic, high-energy heavy psychedelic rock face of the band. The songs, accordingly, seem to come from either of these two factions, which actually reside very well together and have strong links.
Already on the second piece, Tutte Le Anime Saranno Pesate, one can hear their psychedelic tendencies. An efficient and eerie bass line provides tension as the synths provide the main theme, accompanying the male vocals, while later on tribal percussion and a sharp guitar noodling solo continue this otherworldly vibe. All of these elements create a somewhat creepy and weird atmosphere, that is quite characteristic of this type of songs on the album.
I Giorni Della Memoria Terrena follows in the footsteps of the preceding song, albeit in a less spooky fashion and with haunting male vocals, initially accompanied by drumming and then gradually joined by guitar and keyboards. There is a sense of a ritual being prepared, an arrival being anticipated, an escalation of emotions about to happen, in expectation of an event to happen. But this event does not occur in this song, as this monotone piece keeps on going until its end.
The title piece, Kalachakra, counteracts the somewhat somber mood created by the two previous tunes, with a return in its opening part, to the heavy psychedelic rock of the first piece. Although here it’s not as prominent (and not throughout the song) and moreover, includes a sitar, thus enhancing a mystic feeling that permeates from the entire album. The ending of this track is quite gorgeous and climatic with the increase of pace and use of synth-string.
La Terra Trema is in the same camp as Kalachakra in style of song, and the climatic ending. These two songs in particular remind me of the Chilean band Angulart and their album, Donde Renacen Las Horas. The atmosphere is similar, as is the vocal style and the guitar tones. It is an odd and special sound that I find quite ear grabbing.
The sixth track, La Foresta Dei Suicidi, is as somber as its name suggests. It is percussion-less, abstract in places, peculiar and gloomy. While calm in a sense, it is filled with lots of restrained emotions and controlled rage.
Omega, the 7th piece, starts out in the same otherworldly fashion as the previous track, though less grave d with percussion but midway through it joins the ranks of the other type of songs on here and delivers an Electric Orange-like psychedeic freak-out epic ending.
The closing piece, Ballo delle Castagne, reminds me as well of the psychedelic rock of Electric Orange, sounding at first as if coming from a distant foreign place, changing midway to a jam-session-like psychedelic rock tune (with spoken words on German, enhancing furthermore the Electric Orange comparison).
Il Ballo delle Castagne presents here an album with two main ingredients; one heavy psychedelic rock, and the other a psychedelic abstract and eerie exploration. This has grown on me gradually with each listen and only with concentrated and repeated listening, did this album reveal to me its beauty and nuances (or rather I exposed my mind to it).
A worthwhile listen.