Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Star Pillow - The Beautiful Questions & Via Del Chiasso

The Star Pillow
The Beautiful Questions
Setolo Di Maiale/Taverna Records

Paolo Monti – Electric Guitar, Electronics
Federico Gerini – Acoustic Grand Piano

The Star Pillow is a duo consisting of guitarist Paolo Monti and pianist Federico Gerini. Stefano Guist’s Setola Di Maiale label has jointly released these two albums with Taverna Records, founded by Monti. Setola Di Maiale, profiled in a previous post, is frequently home to satisfying, unexpected music in high quality CD-R format and these releases are no exception. 

The Beautiful Questions could best be described as ambient. It’s a quiet, ruminative affair, with the musicians establishing soundscapes that float in the air. There’s an ornery side to their musical personality, though, as one or the other will throw in a curveball to disrupt the flow, before returning to a more placid state. There’s intent and purpose here, but as this is not a genre I listen to, it’s hard for me to judge the extent of their success. As the musicians state:

“The time dilates, the instinct is left free to roam, to follow unusual routes, to get lost in the sound and in the time of a note or a noise, and then become dissonant and disturb the quiet calm created.”

The Star Pillow Meet Bruno Romani
Via Del Chiasso
Setolo Di Maiale/Taverna Records

Paolo Monti – Guitars & Effects
Federico Gerini – Acoustic Upright Piano
Bruno Romani – Alto Sax, Flute, Ethnic Flute

Via Del Chiasso is a very different affair. The Star Pillow add Bruno Romani on sax and flute, and this brings out the free improv side of their personality. The three musicians work well together, generating a nice dialogue between them.

The music on Via Del Chiasso seems to have some pre-determined themes, generally introduced by Gerini, that frequently have a darker, pensive quality about them. Gerini plays an upright, which intentionally or unintentionally is a little out of tune: Think Cecil Taylor’s piano on Nefertiti, The Beautiful One Has Come. Guitarist Monti can pick some jazzy single note lines or generate electronic effects as commentary. The closing track, In Rosso, features the most traditional jazz piano of the whole album, working well with Romani’s cool-toned alto to end on an upbeat note. 

You can order either CD via the Setola Di Maiale website.

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