Two years after their first album, Inflamed Rides, this rather thrilling gathering of enquiring musical like-minds return with Soul Of An Octopus, their first for the always interesting Rare Noise label, and it seems that no little development of their previously visceral sound has occurred. While still brimming with ideas and thrills aplenty, Soul Of An Octopus is a refinement on the debut, the arrangements and melodies are slicker, aided once again by superb sonics, courtesy of Marc Urselli on the mixing desk.
Opener Too Numb witnesses the band steal the essence of The Alabama Three’s Woke Up This Morning, aka the theme tune to TV show The Sopranos, and bend it out of shape while retaining its loose funkiness. The tune has a restless yet addictive quality that will have you throwing shapes in your head. Come on now, we don’t actually dance, do we?
Vocalist and band leader Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari has a great voice, and can go from full-on chest beating rock god to sweet soul balladeer in the course of the same song with consummate ease. Good singers seem to be as rare on the ground these days as a social conscience in the Cabinet, so it’s always a pleasure when a genuinely talented singer happens along.
Italian exploratory guitarist Carmelo Pipitone lets loose some real dirty guitar on Collapsing Hopes that sends the song into a sleazy corner of your grubby little mind where it rummages about, emerging covered in unspeakable horrors and grinning malevolently. In complete contrast is the following track Searching For The Code, a slinky, melancholy and languidly paced prog-soul affair of the broken heart, and quite lovely it is too.
Elsewhere we have modern prog ballads, agitated bursts of angst, spiky instrumental passages, reflective soul searching, and always the classiest of arrangements. With a rhythm section of Colin Edwin and Pat Mastelotto, both for the most part displaying restrained power, the band sound powerful and confident, and their sound is not easily put into a neat box, which is all to the good.
Heaven Proof House sees Lorenzo seductively whispering up close in a poetic song that builds into a spooky scene setting for the following Just Another Bad Day, another head dancer that has the hookiest of choruses and a great little guitar break from Carmelo. The album ends with another vocal tour de force from Lorenzo, and Till The Sunrise Comes with its guitar-as-cello and Pat’s slow tribal drumming underpinning Lorenzo’s heartfelt paen to days yet to come leaves this listener wanting more.
While neither could be described as “pop”, Lorenzo shares an ear for a catchy tune and an intricate arrangement with Tim Bowness, and if you dig Tim’s current direction you should like this album too. Musically O.R.k. may be slightly heavier, which you would expect given who comprises the rhythm section, but they come from a similar place despite travelling along rather different routes to arrive at their respective destinations.
01. Too Numb (3:54)
02. Collapsing Hopes (4:38)
03. Searching For The Code (4:02)
04. Dirty Rain (5:05)
05. Scarlet Water (4:12)
06. Heaven Proof House (4:25)
07. Just Another Bad Day (4:10)
08. Capture or Reveal (4:48)
09. Till The Sunrise Comes (5:20)
Total Time – 40:40
Lorenzo Esposito Fornnasari – Vocals, Keyboards, Electronics
Carmelo Pipitone – Acoustic & Electric Guitars
Colin Edwin – Fretted & Fretless Basses
Pat Mastelotto – Acoustic & Electronic Drums & Percussion
Record Label: RareNoise Records
Date of Release: 24th February 2017