I'm usually not a fan of instrumental albums. More often than not, the purpose of such albums tends to be more about a musician (or band) stroking their own ego than putting together entertaining melodies. Every once in a while, however, an instrumental album makes its way into my grubby hands and reminds me of the fact that for every rule there is at least one exception. Origami, the latest release from Italian multi-instrumentalist Red Sky, is one of those exceptional instrumental albums. Though he does flirt with guitar wankery now and then, it's refreshingly obvious that his goal here is to create an elaborate yet engaging auditory experience and not just showboat for showboating's sake.
Perhaps it's a bit unfair to regard Origami as a strictly instrumental album. Voices do appear briefly throughout the album, mostly in the form of poetry recitation, to humanize the lush compositions and elevate the appeal to listeners like me. The vocals also enhance the Gothic undertones of Origami through the use of sinister whispers (as on "Temporale Notturno" and the title track) and the enchanting female lead of album closer "E poi silenzio Pt. 2" performed by Aurora Rosa Savinelli of the Gothic prog outfit Ephesar. Alberto Bernasconi of Nekrosun also makes a guest appearance on the acoustic "L'Ultimo Petalo", providing a break from the male spoken-word style with a passable baritone delivery of the all-Italian lyrics.
As refreshing as the various vocal contributions are, they really comprise only a small portion of Origami. The vast majority of the album is an exercise in classical guitar and synth composition that forsakes grandiosity in favor of nuance. Red Sky's metallized moments have a definite Satriani influence to them, but his versatility shows in the way he blends his crisp leads with various flavors of six-string melodies. "Temporale Notturno" serves as the first indication of the effectiveness of his layering techniques, joining warm acoustic leads with electrified riffs. The next track, "Andalusia", is fittingly built upon a Flamenco-styled performance accentuated by some tasteful noodling and soothing melodies. And so Red Sky progresses through his compositions, treating listeners to favorable soundscapes as he blurs the line between classical, prog, and metal genres.
While the guitar is unquestionably Red Sky's primary weapon, his arsenal is indeed formidable considering the skill with which he wields the keyboards and bass - bolstered by the reinforcement of Laura Balbinot's mournful cello. The strings and synthesized backgrounds maintain the overall dark mood that exists throughout Origami, belying the sometimes wistful tones undertaken by the guitars. Providing a consistently enjoyable backdrop to the varied vocalizations and Red Sky's multifaceted guitar sound, these elements of Origami are nevertheless key to the album's allure.
Given Red Sky's image and the packaging of Origami, it would be easy to mistake this album as something better fit for the avant-garde scene. Instead, this is an album of pseudo-instrumental Gothic metal/rock that is accessible, interesting, and altogether enjoyable.
|1||Gocce Di Eternità||1:04|
|3||Andalusia (Nostalgia Di Un Tramonto)||5:54|
|4||Ti Ho Sfiorata Nei Miei Sogni||2:47|
|5||Lo Notte Si Innamorò Del Sole||7:01|
|6||Il Filo Rosso||2:41|
|7||La Voce Dei Tuoi Occhi Che Mi Rende Pazzo||4:18|
|9||Alla Prossima (Forse Un Giorno Ci Rivedremo)||7:02|
|11||L'Ultimo Petalo - Acoustic||2:56|
|12||E poi silenzio Pt. 2||4:10|