Spaceman EP (2001, 17.32) ***½/TTTSpaceman
Solo un Grande Sasso (2001, 61.34/67.07) ***½/TTT
|La Tua Fretta
Nel Mio Letto
|1.000 Anni Con Elide
Meduse e Tappeti
[Vinyl bonus track:
Il Tramonto degli Stupidi]
Miami Safari (2002, 20.07) **½/T½Miami Safari
Solo un Grande Sasso - Part I
Solo un Grande Sasso - Part II
Il Suicidio del Samurai (2004, 49.07) ***/TT
|Logorrea (Esperti all'Opera)
|17 Tir Nel Cortile
40 Secondi di Niente
Il Suicidio del Samurai
Luna (2004, 20.09) **½/TLuna
Le Tue Ossa Nell'Altitudine
Elefante (2004, 20.56) ***/T½Elefante
Passi da Gigante
Requiem (2007, 62.14) ***/TT½
|Marti in the Sky
Non Prendere l'Acme Eugenio
Trovami un Modo Semplice per Uscirne
Il Caos Strisciante
Sotto Prescrizione del Dott. Huxley
Caños EP (2007, 24.06) **½/T½Caños
L'Ora è Buia
His Latest Flame (Marie's the Name)
WOW (2011, 83.13) **½/TTT½
|Scegli Me (un Mondo Che Tu Non Vuoi)
Razzi Arpia Inferno e Fiamme
Il Nulla di O.
|Le Scarpe Volanti
Castelli per Aria
Sorriso in Spiaggia pt.I
Sorriso in Spiaggia pt.II
È Solo Lunedì
Tu e Me
Rossella Roll Over
Letto di Mosche
Lei Disse (un Mondo del Tutto Diefferente)
Radar (EjABBABBAjE) (2011, recorded 1993-2011, 31.41) **½/T½
|Rossella Roll Over (live)
Le Scarpe Volanti (live)
È Solo Lunedì (live)
Baby I Love You
A Capello (demo)
|Razzi Arpia Inferno e Fiamme (Drum 2)
Razzi Arpia Inferno e Fiamme (Aucan remix)
Endkadenz Vol. 1 (2015, 59.14) **½/TT½
|Ho Una Fissa
Un Po' Esageri
|Vivere di Conseguenza
Alieni Fra di Noi
Contro la Ragione
Inno del Perdersi
Endkadenz Vol. 2 (2015, 59.24) **½/TTT
Un Blu Sincero
Fuoco Amico I
Fuoco Amico II (Pela i Miei Tratti)
Natale Con Ozzy
Waltz del Bounty
Tanca (2016, 24.08) ***/T½Verdena:
Verdena are a successful Italian 'alt.rock' trio, barely known outside their own country, like so many other 'local market' artists. You know, 'sound like a famous international act, frequently sing in local language, largely restrict activities to home country'. That sounds worse than it should; why shouldn't a band sound like, I dunno, U2, or The Cure, singing in Spanish? I can't actually pin Verdena down to any one act, to their credit; they play a kind of alt.rock/psych/grunge crossover, although their style has shifted over the years.
Their first Mellotronic release was 2001's Spaceman EP, featuring both of their styles (ouch), two tracks full-on and two laid-back. The lead track kicks along nicely, Blue sounds startlingly like an Italian version of Anekdoten after their switch into vaguely 'alt.' territory, with mournful Mellotron strings throughout, the raucous Reverberation's rather mis-named, while Sipario's a kind-of piano ballad, complete with a major Mellotron flute part (spot the distorted, screechy top note). Their third album 'proper', 2001's Solo un Grande Sasso, is, to my surprise, really rather good; while clearly heavily influenced by '90s post-rock, the trio whip up a storm on several tracks, not least Nova, Buona Risposta and the end section of Centrifuga, other highlights including the hypnotic Spaceman, the point in Nova where the band 'go all Hendrix' and Starless (not that one). Credited Mellotron, mostly from vocalist/guitarist Alberto Ferrari, with flute, string and choir parts on opener La Tua Fretta, background something (strings?) on Spaceman, flutes on Onan, atmospheric strings on Starless, cello on Miami Safari and distant strings on Centrifuga, while Manuel Agnelli adds cellos to closer Meduse E Tappeti and an unknown player gets some strings onto vinyl bonus track Il Tramonto Degli Stupidi.
That 'alt.rock' tag comes into its own on their 2002 EP, Miami Safari. Going by its contents, they are, indeed, an alternative to rock. Unfair? Maybe, but material like the two parts of Solo Un Grande Sasso have more in common with post-rock than anything. As I said, an alternative to rock. Admittedly, their take on The Melvins' Creepy Smell is punky enough, but they didn't write it, did they? On the Mellotron front, the two brothers who formed the band, drummer Luca and vocalist/guitarist Alberto Ferrari both play it, with cellos on the title track, distant flutes on Solo Un Grande Sasso - Part II, sounding very real at the end of the track, with more of the same on Morbida.
2004's Il Suicidio del Samurai, while not changing the band's style to any marked degree, fails to make quite the impact of Solo un Grande Sasso, at least to my ears. Better tracks include the mid-paced Phantastica, the frantic Elefante and the amusingly-titled Far Fisa, but it lacks any real standouts. Fidel Figaroli on Mellotron this time round, with a flute line on Mina, choking off at the end, background flutes on the noisy Balanite, distant strings on the even noisier Elefante, an atmospheric string line on Glamodrama and background strings (only really apparent on the fade) on 17 Tir Nel Cortile. The accompanying Luna EP shifts between the near-punk of the title track, the straight acoustic cover of Neil Young's Harvest and the post-rock of Le Tue Ossa Nell'Altitudine and Omashee. Mellotronically speaking (Figaroli again), the only identifiable parts are what sounds like the Chamberlin solo male voice on Le Tue Ossa Nell'Altitudine and the high cellos on Apice, making me heavily doubt its veracity. Without further proof, however... The Elefante EP is only partially a typical 'use up the offcuts' release: the percussive Passi Da Gigante is nothing special, but the slow-burning Corteccia (Nell'up-Nea) is as good as anything on the parent album. Aside from the lead-off album track, Figaroli is credited with Mellotron on two other tracks, with muted flutes on Perfect Day, although nothing obvious on Mu.
2007's Requiem is probably defined by its two epics, the eleven-minute Il Gulliver and ten-minute closer Sotto Prescrizione Del Dott. Huxley (ignoring the odd campfire-singalong coda), both of which show that the band have a good command of the technique of tension-and-release, other notable tracks including the punky Isaaco Nucleare and Muori Delay and the experimental Opanopono. Mellotron mostly from Alberto, with distant strings on Don Calisto, a brief, lush string part on Isaaco Nucleare, strings and flutes on Caños, with Luca helping out on Sotto Prescrizione Del Dott. Huxley, with upfront strings dipping in and out of the twelve-minute piece. None other than PFM's Mauro Pagani adds it to two tracks, too, with high, spitty flutes on Angie, although nothing obvious on Trovami Un Modo Semplice Per Uscirne. The Caños EP really is a 'use up the offcuts' effort, I'm afraid; Malaga (player of Mellotron flutes unknown) isn't bad, but a cover of Elvis' His Latest Flame (Marie's The Name) is a waste of time, while two six-minute-plus tracks, Parabellum and Fluidio, seem to be present merely to fill up space.
2011's overlong two-disc WOW is, essentially, more of the same from their EP days, nine years on. With some heavy pruning, this could be a passable album, but the fatal decision to make it a double sinks the whole enterprise, at least to my ears. There are a couple of best tracks: disc two's opener, Attonito, where the band discovers a killer riff that I've never heard used before and the unsurprisingly almost-unaccompanied vocal number A Capello. Mellotron variously this time from bassist Roberta Sammarelli and Ferrari (A.), sometimes both on the same track, with strings and cellos all over opener Scegli Me (Un Mondo Che Tu Non Vuoi), upfront strings on Per Sbaglio, Razzi Arpia Inferno E Fiamme and Castelli Per Aria, background ones on Mi Coltivo and Sorriso In Spiaggia Pt.I, strings and male choirs on Adoratorio, strings and flutes on Sorriso In Spiaggia Pt.II, strings and distorted flutes on Badea Blues, a rising string line on Rossella Roll Over and, finally, flutes on Letto Di Mosche. However, there's nothing audible on Loniterp, while the strings on disc two's Tu E Me are real.
2011's strangely-titled Radar (EjABBABBAjE) (so what's with the palindrome, chaps?) is a short odds'n'sods collection, better tracks including a live È Solo Lunedì and Razzi Arpia Inferno E Fiamme (Drum 2), although it's difficult to say just how much the latter differs from the version on WOW. Two Mellotron tracks, with strings on Razzi Arpia..., as on their previous release and skronky flutes and surprisingly melodic strings on the raucous Baby I Love You, recorded right back in 1993, presumably both from Ferrari, not to mention string samples on the live Rossella Roll Over (don't tell me they were using an M400 live; they weren't).
In my 'umble opinion, 2015's two hour, two-part Endkadenz could quite easily have been edited down to a single disc, but I'm sure the band's fans would disagree vehemently. Vol. 1's better tracks include Puzzle, Inno Del Perdersi and closer Funeralus, but they struggle to make themselves heard through reams of virtual filler. Alberto on Mellotron throughout again, with distant choirs on Un Po' Esageri, vague strings on Alieni Fra Di Noi and a major string part on Funeralus, while Andrea "Chaki" Gaspari plays it on three tracks, with strings on Puzzle, strings and flutes on Diluvio and strings on Vivere Di Conseguenza. Alberto's also credited with 'Mellotron iPad' on Sci Desertico, the track's strings sounding suitably inauthentic. Sadly, Vol. 2 is no more interesting, although better tracks (those I'd put on my hypothetical compilation) include Un Blu Sincero, Nera Visione and the gloomy Natale Con Ozzy (wonderfully, Christmas With Ozzy). Mellotron mostly from Chaki this time round, with strings on opener Cannibale, Colle Immane and Un Blu Sincero (Alberto playing on the last-named), distant strings on Fuoco Amico I and II, distant choirs (?) on Nera Visione and strings on Lady Hollywood and closer Waltz Del Bounty, while on the punky Caleido, we get very specific credits: Luca on violins and Alberto on flutes.
2016's Tanca is one of those 'two acts play each other's songs' EPs, Verdena pairing up with IOSONOUNCANE, a.k.a. Jacopo Incani, each artist tackling two of the other's compositions. Although I've named it for its lead track, the EP doesn't actually seem to have a title per se; 'Split EP' or similar seems a bit weak. Verdena make a decent job of Tanca and Carne, although, unsurprisingly, I haven't heard the originals, so comparisons are invalid. IOSONOUNCANE's versions of Verdena's Diluvio and Identikit are played in a kind of 'lounge electronica' style; listenable, if not that startling. Uncredited Mellotron on both Verdena tracks (Alberto again?), with faint strings on Tanca and more upfront ones, plus flutes, on Carne. Both of IOSONOUNCANE's contributions feature something that sounds like Mellotron strings, but is far more likely to be samples.