Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother — Album number four for the frenetic and unpredictable Italian fusion band Accordo dei Contrari, and 2017's `Violato Intatto' is their most varied and volatile work to date! To call AdC a jazz-fusion band would be doing them a bit of a disservice, as they travel much further than that by incorporating everything from Rock-in-Opposition/Avant textures, ambient interludes, brief cinematic Post-Rock flirtations and a touch of Canterbury?styled jazzy waftings. The band have taken the potential trouble of the void left by departing bassist Daniele Piccinini by filling it with sax player Stefano Radaelli (as well as bringing in Deus Ex Machina's violinist Alessandro Bonetti to guest), and this new version of the group attack with more fire, bluster and a determination to impress than ever before...and it's resulted in one of the finest progressive music releases of 2017.
Predominantly recorded live in the studio with only the lightest of later overdubs, tightly composed instrumental pieces that blend effortlessly with improvised stretching-out is mostly the order of the day here, and sure enough opener `Folia Saxifraga' twists and turns with plenty of jagged back-and-forth stop-start spasms. Peppered with guest Gabriele di Giulio and Stefano's honking runaway sax, Giovanni Parmeggiani's loopy keyboard runs, Marco Marzo Maracas's tangled guitar grinding and Cristian Franchi's crashing drumming, the group only take a little break for a mysterious electric piano ambient shimmer in the middle. Relentless Hammond organ runs, red-hot electric guitar embers and pumping incessant Soft Machine-like horns cook throughout `Monodia', and `Blue-S' adds some dirty grooving swampy blues.
Check out `Shamash' for an prime example of AdC's versatility and melting-pot of styles and sounds ? opening with reverberating electronic slivers and shuffling distortion, it tears into heavy buoyant riffing, falls away into eastern-flecked ambient reflections before tearing through whirling dervish-like violin thrashes. There's noisy Soft Machine sounds aplenty throughout `Idios Cosmos's twinkling electric piano splintering, rumbling percussion builds and blaring sax blasts delivering lurching heavy grooves, and E Verde è l'Ignoto su cui Corri' moves closer to a band like Italian avant-garders Yugen with guest Patrizia Urbani's spoken vocals weaving in and around the dreamy chiming guitars and icy Mellotron veils. There's an eerie air of King Crimson atmosphere gently pervading here, and the low-key sophistication proves that AdC don't need to be high-energy and rowdy all the time.
That restraint continues into `Marienkirche', where a treated cacophony of faraway tolling bells and electronic drones seep together to form a pristine ambient break. There's more maddening Crimson-like jangling repetitive chimes, carefully slinking drumming and electric piano tip-toes throughout `Di Eccezione in Variante' that come close to the early A.M hours rainy-night teeming drops of Soft Machine's `Five' LP, before it rages into a storm of ferocious guitar wailing and molten Fender Rhodes eruptions. `Usil' is another jazzy and gutsy horn-pumping groover with addictive reprising themes and plentiful soloing, and `Eros vs Anteros' delivers not only acid-rock guitar histrionics and lengthy proto-prog Hammond heavy battering, but the gurgling electronics and mantra-like guitar spirals almost remind of the Ozric Tentacles...and the closing acoustic passage is just the added gravy - ooh yeah! The closing title track `Il Violato Intatto' blends hypnotic electric piano loops over placid drones, hazy washes of guitar distortion and clipping up-tempo drumming. Frantic, infectious and foot-tapping, it's an exciting way to end the album on as great a high as possible.
Don't be put off by the seventy-three minute running time here, as the wide variety of material always keeps the disc fresh, vibrant and exciting through bring a range of emotions - some attack with a fury, some challenge the mind, others craft immersive atmospheres and then there are just blasts of cool energy aiming to be fun. It all amounts to `Violato Intatto' likely being Accordo dei Contrari's true masterwork...until their next album most likely! Instrumental album freaks, jazz/fusion fans and lovers of challenging and off-kilter progressive music, here's very likely your favourite album of 2017.