Even if I did not already have great interest in a new LogoS album, the title and artwork would have settled it for me. Without knowing Italian, it’s clear enough that this is an album that references Sasaki Sadako and the one thousand origami cranes she folded before her death. It’s a story I learnt at primary school, and one of very few memories I have from those school days. We learnt of the symbolism of the origami crane (orizuru), and additional symbolism when 1,000 are strung together (senbazuru). We attempted to fold 1,000 as a class. I can’t remember if we did, but it was a good way of showing just what an achievement it was for Sadako, particularly when she was literally on her deathbed. I’ve never forgotten her story, so to hear it played out in music was an attractive prospect. My only worry was that LogoS might fall prey to attempting to integrate Japanese instruments or instrumentation into their lush RPI sound, something I’m not sure could work terribly well, and far too easily be tokenism at best, and appropriation at worst. I need not have worried.
The album begins with the short instrumental piece, Origami in SOL-, providing a powerful and intense opening. It’s quite incredible, and far too short. I could definitely have done with this track carrying on a little longer. Paesaggi di Insonnia, which follows, is even more frantic – tossing and turning as one with insomnia might. (I admit I’ve not attempted to find the translations of the titles, but ‘Insonnia’ looks enough like insomnia to me…). If it were not already obvious with Origami in SOL-, Paesaggi di Insonnia makes it clear that this album, like the one that preceded it, is beautifully produced and mixed. The sound is perfect and crystal clear. There’s no muddiness, every instrument has its space. And just to add to the already wonderful mix, an additional instrument is brought into the mix, thanks to the saxophone of Federica Zoccatelli.
Paesaggi di Insonnia is a thoroughly enjoyable and unpredictable romp through many moods, with the always excellent Luca Zerman, who may well be my favourite Italian vocalist (I love his tone and expression), with Claudio Antolini on keyboards kicking up a storm (why have one keyboard player, when you can have two?), and the vibrant and strong rhythm section of Fabio Gaspari on bass (and also occasionally guitar, mandolin and vocals) and Alessandro Perbellini on drums, definitely not hiding in the background. I’m really happy Perbellini is now a member of the band (he drummed on only one track on the previous album), as his powerful presence on this album provides much enjoyment.
Indeed, if anything, the rhythm section are right out in front for the following Un Lieto Inquietarsi. This comes across as quite an evil piece of music. It may not be intended to be, but it just sounds mean and nasty to me. Well, for the first half, at least. After a remarkably serene mid-section, the second half of the song has a far more optimistic air. But even more serene is Il Sarto, which is a quite beautiful ballad. The sort I would probably hate if it were sung in English, but which Italian vocals just seem perfect for – full of emotion and expression that sounds genuine and rich, rather than corny and cheesy. Another guest, Elisa Montaldo, sings on this track and she really adds to the magic. It’s a pastoral gem, rich in the classic RPI sound of the ’70s, yet still sounding completely modern. This is what LogoS do so well, time and time again.
Zaini di Elio is a rousing return to the more manic music of the first few tracks, with some wonderfully choppy and changing passages, and an absolute star turn from Perbellini on the drums. Definitely my favourite drumming on the album. Most RPI bands at one point or another get compared to ELP. I guess it’s because I’ve never really liked ELP, but I’ve never heard that. In fact, I’m more likely to be reminded of Genesis, and this song is one where I could make that comparison. As for the keys, these are as often reminiscent of Wakeman as they are of Emerson, but the swirling and twirling of the two keyboard players is distinctly their own. Any of these comparisons do a disservice, too, for they give an impression that this music might sound (out)dated and stale. This is not retro music. It doesn’t sound like it’s trying to emulate the sounds of the ’70s as so many modern bands seem to be doing. Rather, it’s using those sounds as a template for a modern album, in the same way Quel Che Disse Il Tuono did earlier this year. These two bands have not just released the best RPI albums of the year, but of the last few years – taking sounds of RPI somewhere new, rather than merely reflecting on the past.
The band save the best for last, with the title track. Sasaki Sadako was two years old when the bomb fell on Hiroshima. The effects of the radiation were not immediately apparent. She was hospitalised in February 1955, and started folding paper planes, hoping that she might achieve her wish to get well. By August Sadako had completed her senbazuru and, not getting any better, began folding more. By the time she died in October of that year (aged twelve), she had folded approximately 1,300 to 1,400 orizuru (the exact number is unknown). A novel based on her life changed the story to suggest she did not complete a senbazuru, so her friends and family kept folding for her, so that she might have 1,000. It might make a nice story, but somehow knowing that she folded them all herself, and kept going, is more impressive to me. And impressive is what this approximately 20 minute song is. A fitting end to a wonderful album. Anyone who loved the previous LogoS album, 2014’s L’Enigma della Vita, and was worried that the band might struggle to follow it up with something as good need not worry. Anyone who doesn’t yet know the band is simply in for a treat. And speaking of L’Enigma della Vita, that album is now available as a deluxe reissue with a bonus disc including six live tracks (released, as the band display it, 10 10 20 20).
01. Origami in SOL- (2:16)
02. Paesaggi di Insonnia (11:26)
03. Un Lieto Inquietarsi (10:47)
04. Il Sarto (6:00)
05. Zaini di Elso (12:37)
06. Sadako e le Mille Gru di Carta (21:19)
Total Time – 64:25
Luca Zerman – Lead Vocals, Keyboards
Claudio Antolini – Keyboards
Fabio Gaspari – Bass, Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
Alessandro Perbellini – Drums
Elisa Montaldo – Vocals (track 4)
Federica Zoccatelli – Saxophone (track 2)
Massimo Maoli – Guitar (track 6)
Simone Chiampan – Drums (track 4)
Record Label – Independent
Country of Origin – Italy
Date of Release – 1st July 2020