Any album where seven of the eight tracks run to a length of 3 minutes 34 seconds immediately makes you think that strange minds are at work. The fact that the remaining track is 34 seconds long simply underlines this.
So what exactly is going on here? It isn’t apparent why the timings are as they are, although the Facebook page has the name ‘Dolcetti333’ – I’m guessing that the additional second allows for breaks between the tracks and ‘334’ isn’t as aesthetic? Could it be that 2 x 333 = 666, thus describing the devilish quality of the performances? No doubt unlikely but it would be accurate.
Taking their name from the Italian for small and sweet cake-like treats – and that pretty much describes what we have here – Dolcetti is a largely instrumental duo comprising guitarist Gianni Rojatti and drummer Erik Tulissio. They have wide experience playing with the likes of Paul Gilbert, The Aristocrats and a variety of others, including Steve Vai who invited them to open for his Passion & Warfare 25th Anniversary tour. Both musicians are also heavily involved in music instruction with the Accordo.it website and the Italian branch of the Dante Agostini drum school.
Rojatti and Tulissio take a swirling mix of disparate musical genres and add their exemplary technique to produce something quite unexpected. Arriver, their second album, is described as “a musical trip without rules” and an evolution in their sound as alongside the guitars and drums this new material is entirely composed of electronic elements, for example, the basses are realised via a Moog. Dolcetti have been more experimental in their integration of progressive rock with reggae, electro dance, synth pop and blues making for an intriguing prospect.
The vibrant energy of opener Cellulare in bagno sets the tone, the core instruments at home amid the electronic additions. Having “live” drums is a massive benefit to the sound and you never get the impression that the project is studio based. The Moog bass adds an ’80s feel which works for me so no complaints and it soon becomes clear that this album isn’t all about guitar/drum soloing in excelsis. All of the textures have their place and are used to carry across the melodic drive which is key to all of the pieces, each structured to ensure that this focus is not lost, although the duo do allow themselves the space to disappear down the odd cosmic rabbit hole when the mood takes them, these diversions into strange alleyways not only permitted but gleefully encouraged.
Idea effe comes from a similar school as the technical playfulness of Guthrie Govan, adding in a bit of Adrian Belew weirdness but ensuring that melody is never far away. All very fitting for a tribute track to Steve Vai’s Flexible. A Police style reggae groove drifts in by the end, as on Tutto finito troia, and Un dito due estati takes a large part of its focal melody from Madonna’s early disco phase and other ’80s pop influences, embedded in more technical guitar melodies that work a treat.
A Zappa-esque abandon inhabits Esorcismo & Tagliatelle and the brief Figablast is twinkly and obtuse but fun with it, guitar and drums working beautifully together – apparently it was originally 50 seconds long so they had to learn to play it MUCH faster to fit the ‘…and 34 seconds’ remit! Depth and a dose of heaviness come through in Lingua verde di Prosecco and there’s lots to take in while Corri, corri bambina ends the album with a bluesy tone.
Sometimes the prescribed timings thing seem to be a disadvantage, good things cut off a little too quickly rather than coming to a natural conclusion. Having such strict limitations isn’t a major issue on an album which is so punchy and hit-and-run but it seems an odd route for the band to take. The playing is faultless with deft changes of time and unexpected flourishes, it’s all great fun and being gone in well under half an hour is never going to make it feel like it’s dragging.
The excesses often inherent in albums of this sort are largely avoided and as a result this is a guitar and drums technical wig-out for people who don’t really like that kind of thing. Molto Bene!
01. Cellulare in bagno (3:34)
02. Un dito due estati (3:34)
03. Idea effe (3:34)
04. Esorcismo & Tagliatelle (3:34)
05. Figablast (0:34)
06. Tutto finito troia (3:34)
07. Lingua verde di Prosecco (3:34)
08. Corri, corri bambina (3:34)
Total time – 25:32
Erik Tulissio – Acoustic & Electronic Drums
Gianni Rojatti – Guitars & Everything Else
Record Label: n/a
Country of Origin: Italy
Date of Release: 19th November 2016