Italian producer, composer and guitarist Corrado Rustici may not be a household name but having worked with some of the biggest names in the music business during a near 50-year career, there is no doubting his calibre.
A founder member of Naples-based progressive rock group Cervello, recording the Melos album in 1973, Rustici formed fusion band Nova in 1975. Over the course of four albums, Nova moved to London, working with luminaries such as Narada Michael Walden and Phil Collins, before recording their final album in New York. Rustici then became a successful producer on high-profile releases from Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock and Zucchero, to name a few.
His first solo album, The Heartist, appeared in 1995, and he has issued sporadic albums since, in the interim playing in the Corrado Rustici Trio with former Jethro Tull keyboardist Peter-John Vettese and fusion drummer Steve Smith. The late Allan Holdsworth guested on his 2006 album Deconstruction of a Postmodern Musician, and there are definite influences from the great man in the paying to be found on Interfulgent, Rustici’s fourth solo release.
From the Latin word meaning ‘shining through’, Interfulgent is well-named as Corrado’s guitar does just that in compositions which seek to “place the electric guitar in a more contemporary musical context”. The ten tracks feature a variety of guitar voicings, created via pedal technology developed by Rustici to give his guitar additional expressive tone, in a sound which he describes as “Transmodern”, integrating electronics with fusion, progressive and classically influenced playing.
The result is certainly evocative, Corrado describing it as “an artistic interpretation of a deep desire to transcend the socio-cultural darkness that surrounds us”, metaphorically represented by the luminous object on the cover, a “harbinger of better times ahead”. The music is performed largely by Rustici, with contributions from keyboardist Alex Argento on a number of the tracks.
From the outset, Halo Drive drops us into an engaging techno waterscape of beats, Corrado’s scything guitar making a thoroughly engaging entrance. Notes are sprayed around, but with clinical skill and there is no doubting his technique and understanding of dynamics. The Holdsworth influence comes into closer focus in the second half and Argento’s synth solo is also noteworthy. A gripping start.
It is sometimes difficult for instrumental albums to penetrate and register, but no such issues here. The frenetic pace of the opener morphs into Night of the Jackal, darker and with an Eastern tinge, the electric soundscape continuing to bubble. Rustici’s peddle technique fills the piece with emotion and he quickly shows himself to be a masterful player, years of experience bolstered by a desire to try new things.
This is not a jazz album, although the influences are clear. As an instrumental tour de force Corrado has done an exemplary job and does not stint on melody within the free-flowing quicksilver technique. If the dedication weren’t enough, The Man From Yorkshire is a clear and heartfelt nod to Holdsworth’s genius, unfathomable unorthodox chords deployed to evocative effect, the guitar almost taking on the texture of a violin; absolutely gorgeous. Anna also sees every drop of emotion wrung out by the stunningly evocative guitar part, set against piano and synth strings, the mixing of note flurries with slowly modulating chords also pointing towards AH.
There’s an angularity to Black Swan, an industrial edge adding to the modernistic feel whilst, ironically, the wah-wah guitar part initially puts me in mind of the riff from Landscape’s wacky 1981 classic Einstein A Go Go(!), although this does dissipate as the piece moves forward.
The title track is a fine amalgamation of electronic rhythms, synths and strident guitar in a fusion setting, but with the melodic sensibilities kept to the fore. It’s a multi-layered approach that gives it real legs as a listening experience, with plenty to discover on each visit. Khetwadi Lane is a much more mystical beast, layers of synths the basis for a near-vocal guitar line that truly exemplifies what Rustici is trying to achieve with this album. The melody rolls with the backing and it’s easy to be swept along by it. ZuZu Blues brings back the easy rhythm, indeed with a bluesy element added to the guitar.
It’s an obvious fact but worth remembering that guitarist ‘solo’ albums do not have to be ‘wanky’, and this one most certainly isn’t. The brooding piano foundation of The Waters of Enceladus supports the atmospheric and widescreen growl of an impending storm, the guitar jumping out with stabs of synth. The warmth of sunlight breaks through the clouds once more with G. On a Sunny Day, a comforting and gentle way to round out what really is a richly engaging listen.
The Holy Grail of instrumental albums is listenability, and Corrado Rustici has easily achieved this with a set of songs that show a wide range of tonal possibilities and situations for his chosen instrument. His playing is nothing short of superb and his choices spot on, keeping his hand on the emotion whilst displaying an awesome understanding of technique. Mr Holdsworth would no doubt approve.
A fine record and heartily recommended.
01. Halo Drive (4:43)
02. Night of the Jackal (5:41)
03. The Man From Yorkshire (Dedicated to A.H.) (3:59)
04. Black Swan (3:56)
05. Anna (4:44)
06. Interfulgent (4:31)
07. Khetwadi Lane (4:02)
08. ZuZU Blues (4:28)
09. The Waters of Enceladus (4:52)
10. G. on a sunny day (5:01)
Total Time – 46:02
Corrado Rustici – Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Sophia-guitar, Keyboards, Inuk, Beats Programming, Synthaxe-Voice (track 7)
Alex Argento – Additional Keyboards, Synth Solo (track 1)
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Italy
Date of Release: 26th February 2021