Once again, let me start a review from the analysis of the press release. A couple of striking notes emerge. One is a relative comparison of Insalata Statica with Jim O’Rourke’s The Visitor; indeed, scents of JO’R’s sonority are present which might be acceptable, especially in view of the recent cooperations between him and Giovanni Di Domenico.
The second is a reference to Franco Battiato’s oeuvre of the 70s, an out-and-out offense in spite of Di Domenico’s admitted liking of those overrated pastiches. The difference – at least for a detached observer trying to age with a degree of dignity – is that multi-instrumentalist Di Domenico can compose, orchestrate and play for real. Battiato’s so-called experimental era was the result of a smartly concealed fraud.
This album – constructed upon a 40-minute suite – is a small treat. Its compositional distillation – not devoid of barely perceivable details that may only be acknowledged by experts in combined resonances – translated into charming music of palpable profundity. In several circumstances its harmonic wealth gets pushed towards other climates, occasionally bordering on mild disorder. Nevertheless, an underlying feeling of suaveness persists in those moments, too.
Assembled over the course of five years after singularly recording its sections, the composition appears to this reviewer as a sincere homage to the truly progressive opuses of the aforementioned decade more than anything else.
This does not imply any attempt of shameless imitation. Di Domenico did throw a little of everything in there while managing to restrain himself quite a bit. To exemplify the concept: certain interlocking patterns could recall Steve Reich for a fleeting instant, but there’s no time to even pronounce that similarity as the scene changes to an altogether diverse mood, perhaps characterized by fuzzy electric guitars and gentle drumming in Canterbury-esque sauce.
The fluid alternance of freshness and strong coloring, of vivid pulse and serenity, was probably the decisive intuition for the successful realization of this piece.
I am not swearing to the gods when affirming that a “conceptual kinship” coming to mind was that with the best Mike Oldfield. Before you laugh, remember: Hergest Ridge is a hell of an undersung record (moreover, one can’t cover the role of sound engineer for Henry Cow by being a slouch).
Still, this is entirely Di Domenico’s soul. It smiles and nods to us, inviting to come in without apprehension. The efforts in the studio have definitely been repaid: I have savored the “static salad” four times already. A self-promise for the future is to return to it when possible.