Although I have mellowed out a little bit in recent times, an inborn anti-Italian philosophy has always made me look suspiciously at nominal “avant” musicians from my country. A clever unscrupulousness typically transforms a soi-disant revolutionary in a lubricated wheel in the establishment’s engine as soon as an opportunity for sociopolitical and economic improvement materializes. Farewell to ideologies and sincerity, at that point.
Therefore a measure of relief is granted when getting in touch with characters such as Massimo Falascone, of whom I had reviewed the intriguing Variazioni Mumacs six years ago. The saxophonist and composer from Milan is apparently content to remain in his own creative ambit, surrounded by collaborators on the same wavelength. The MF Seven comprises excellent instrumentalists: clarinettist Giancarlo Nino Locatelli, guitarist Alessandra Novaga, pianist Alberto Tacchini, bassist Silvia Bolognesi, drummer Cristiano Calcagnile, percussionist Filippo Monico. They play with enthusiastic passion, focus on the scored segments and significant improvising skills, also expressing a tendency to a rather objective anarchy during their soloist exploits. They fully deserve to share the merits with the project leader.
The music, evidently inspired by French illusionist and filmmaker Georges Méliès and originally conceived for a theatrical kind of live performance, changes mood from one track to another while retaining the spirit of a suite. The written material includes themes often permeated with irony, either intelligently angular or quasi-popular. In the conceptual fragmentation that, in a way, constitutes the foundation of Falascone’s inspiration we do detect influences, more or less declared. Or, perhaps, only imagined by this writer. Contrapuntal pages comparable to Lindsay Cooper’s; reed figurations halfway through Alfred Harth and Hal Russell; the ethereal suspension of a drunk embodiment of Bill Frisell mixed with cinematic openings hinting at the recently departed Ennio Morricone (“Rubber Head”); oneirism turning into parody (“Maquillage”). And – as Neil Young would have it – there’s so much more, including a Mal Waldron cover.
Despite the admittedly vague associations necessary for the marketing strategies of a reviewer drifting in intellectual limbo, the septet translates the stuff according to a compositional perspective that allows for variable insights (and not a few surprises) as one proceeds in the listening act. Already at the end of the first spin, a wish arose to return and understand better. It doesn’t happen frequently, around here. Falascone is a prankster who plays the game very seriously, and does not exclude melancholy from the equation. By paying attention to the now lucid, now wacky dreams of Méliès, something can definitely be learned.