Saturday, May 7, 2011

Review: Areknamés - In Case Of Loss... (2010, Black Widow)

Areknames are an Italian progressive rock band with 3 studio albums and one live album to their record, with the first s/t one having been released in 2003. In Case Of Loss… was released in 2010 by Black Widow Records.
I was aware of the band but have never heard any of their albums so far and so this is my first exposure to their music. I can say that if this is indicative of their previous albums, I should go and check them as well.

While the overall sound has spacey and somewhat dreamy characteristics, the band spices things up with other ingredients and introduces vigor in the form of some aggressiveness and lightness in the form of jazziness. With this varied approach, they craft appealing melodies and top it off with moving textures. A good example of this is the songs ‘Where’ in which all of these come into play.

They seem to have a knack for balancing these two approaches in one song, never veering too much in any direction, remaining solidly in their middle ground. The music is for the most part mid- to slow paced and the slightly gloomy mood seems to reign on most of the album, save a few parts of songs. This is what gives the different songs a sense of unity and continuity, despite them being stand-alone songs.

The band’s skills at creating beautiful melancholic soundscapes are well demonstrated in a song like ‘Don’t Move’, where melody and atmosphere join forces achieving a synergistic effect. Their music can be lush and at the same time rough on the edges; the tension between the two is what gives them their sound.
On the other hand, the band is capable of letting things “get out of hand” in a controlled manner. They burst into sped up and louder excursions in some songs (‘A New Song’ for instance).
Their ambitious and exploratory side shows itself in the closing epic piece, ‘The Very Last Number’. Here they don’t shy away from unleashing all their artillery and musical prowess. They do not do this in an unorganized fashion, but with a well constructed development from a simple tune into a fancy full and rich multi-section piece.

Michele Epifani’s vocals, of a mid to high pitch variety are pleasant and inviting, oozing softness; but they don’t change much and remain in the safe zone where his strength lies. I’d have loved to hear a deeper voice every now and then to counteract with his. With that said, his voice fits the music well, enhancing the moody and mostly somber feel of the music.

In Case Of Loss turned out to be “in case of a find”, since I feel I’ve found a new band to like. While it took some 6-7 spins of the cd to get into the music, when it crept in eventually, it was rewarding.

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