Peo Alfonsi | Il Velo di Iside

07.06.2013..

You cannot properly understand the value of a recording just listen to it during the emotional period following its release. Only the time is its unequivocal judge, since every day it assays the decay or the increase of the original potential beauty. In my opinion, this is the best method, maybe the unique. History is full of records that have been torn to shreds after few days from their release and then have soared among the best issues ever. One example? The Velvet Underground & Nico, dated 1967, misunderstood work and, in my opinion, one of the first five all-time rock records. I cannot detract from this temporal "treatment" the album Il Velo di Iside, by Peo Alfonsi. Attention! We are talking of an EGEA Music product, so we pretend deep artistic contents. The album was issued on the15th November 2012: four months of listening can be considered enough to mention it. If you want to know something about Alfonsi just look at his website, but what strikes me is the fact that, once again, the research of the authentic music leads us to Sardinia: a land that is a pulsing centre of cultural production and source of talents. Gee! Art, talent, culture...how many bad words - referred to the contemporary society - all together. Anyway, I would say that this record is full of culture, suspended between myth and art. The reference myth is Isis. A statue of Isis was built near Memphis, presumably onto the place of her sepulchre. The sculpture was covered with a black veil and on the throne base, an inscription was carved: "I, Isis, am all that has been, that is or shall be; no mortal Man hath ever me unveiled". Only those who unveil her will be able to solve the mysteries of life, death, generation, and regeneration.

 

Isis' myth for Peo Alfonsi is an allegory of his work. He tells us in the internal notes of the CD. The material world is illusory and the veil remains a mythological symbol that, through a gash, presents the opportunity, for each of us, to cross the edge of the material living, in a dimension that is dilated and involving, that makes disappear our certainties of what is the real universe. The phenomenon of the gash can repeat itself many times and every time we can live amazing experiences. It is not a case that such phenomena go together with the music diffused in the air. Here is the coupling with art and culture. The music as thaumaturgy, as fading out in the immaterial world, in the cognitive paths, into the spaces of transcendence. According to Peo, in the expression of a concept there is nothing of politic or religious, under a dogmatic point of view. There is only a simple transport between the coordinates of magnificence and grace. Music, also, as alchemy. The alchemy of the Ancient Egypt, at the times of Isis' myth, between symbolism and nature. The music, via the opera of the High Priest Peo Alfonsi and his guitars, along with the Priests: Gabriele Mirabassi on clarinet, J. Kyle Gregory on trumpet and flugelhorn, Salvatore Maiore on double bass and violoncello, Francesco Sotgiu on percussions and violin, Fausto Beccalossi on accordion and Maria Vicentini on viola, at disposal of whoever wants to defeat the darkness of the third millennium and get close to the knowledge.

The transit between material and immaterial world, better the rubification, to quote the alchemical language, that is the last and definitive stage of the material transmutation, is perforce traumatic. It needs sweet and captivating sounds, without any sprain, abrasion or turbulent excitement. The composition of these sounds, to be transformed into a blade that tears apart the veil, must be synthesized in a non-genre, concentrated on the vibratile effect of the instrumental expression, on alchemy though. Peo Alfonsi is the most authoritative reincarnation of the modern alchemist of the sound. He is a guitarist with a masterly technique and with an endless stylistic skill and originality. Even though he comes from jazz, he succeeds in metabolizing several influences, among which the popular music of his land, Mediterranean, chamber music, with oriental veins, recalls from Mexico and Iberian Peninsula, which create a neological language very modern and valued.

The pervasive features of this sound form are the lyricism and the maniacal care of the detail. There is no superfluous, buttery note. There is no note that winks to the melodic compromise. The meaning of the fourteen tracks, all instrumental, should be analysed with a manual of semantic rather than one of harmony. Well, maybe a small comment on the tracks would have been appreciated. Most probably, all are functional to the central idea, to the concept. The guitar is the conjunction of every chapter and the means to tie all the instruments, which are masterly played by a combo of amazing performers. Performers who are dematerialized to the benefit of the instruments, which, in the CD booklet are photographed in a close-up and in detail, while of the performers, are only the hands or parts of the body. Body that is substance and that does not have the means to go beyond the veil. It can only disintegrate and let be accompanied by the chords, the arpeggios, the notes and by the melodic theme.

 

The guitar is the starring of the three soloist tracks. Iñárritu, with its Basque incisive asperities, Routine #6, that blinks to Al Di Meola, who appreciates Peo and has been working with him from a couple of years and Terra bagnata, where the folk matrix of the land recall comes out superb and nostalgic. But the guitar leads also in the ensemble pieces, where is the harmonic and contrapuntal humus onto which the flugelhorn emits notes of unlimited extension, like in 22 Brooklyn Terrace, where it makes spirals around the extra systolic pulsations of the double bass. The start is captivating and introduces to the next piece: La danza, a track performed on tip of clarinet, the mythic inspired Mirabassi's. The bass is always there but as a source of creation in a full spatial stage. The viola comes in shiny and sweet in Angel, in a respectful soloist twine with the accordion. It is a musical picture smelling of popular tradition. You can feel the sea rocking you as soon as you close your eyes. In Nianà the clarinet leads the raising of the rhythmic pulsations and the micro percussions, of more personality, make the piece really intense, although concise. Fraintendimenti is a pearl indeed. The trumpet solo seems to call a viola that starts docile and then becomes elusive and strident. The guitar-percussion texture is dazzling and traces constantly the theme from which is forbidden to go away. After the gloomy sketch for clarion, flugelhorn, bass and guitar of Poi passa, the album gives us an excursion among oriental sonorities, masterly performed by the winds. Mysterious and exciting tones, with some bass solo spaces. In the title track, Il velo di Iside, the melodic line is introduced by the violin. Then come the flugelhorn and the accordion, which raise the tension in the only track with voices, although they are just like a narrator. Nana per Pico is build on a phrasing between guitar and clarinet, as an interlocution towards the dancing homage to the Mexican tradition of Pico-Tico. The last piece is Verso Itaca, sanguineous and Mediterranean track which evokes a journey, suggestion of the homecoming. There is a great harmonic balance, watercolours and sounds without any acoustic flaws, in an almost impalpable atmosphere.

The entire album has a worthy narrative depth and leaves us a teaching. Like Isis' myth, every veil exists to be lifted. This is the metaphor of the research, knowledge and growth in a never-ending tension towards the passing of the senses deceit and the fallacy of the materialistic appearance.

Music has the positive power of allowing the realization of our spiritual yearnings. Beyond any axiom, or article of faith, with prettiness and beauty... free.

EGEA’s recording is of great level, as usual. The timbric of the instruments is always correct, as well the resonance of the materials they are made of. It is understandable how the recording and the audio mixing have looked for an extreme localization of the instruments that is the very spread eagle collocation towards the speakers. Maybe the intention was to increase the ambience but, fatally, the fullness of the acoustic scene is sacrificed, although the intelligibility of the sound dialogs is exalted. Let us imagine it as an intentional choice, a method to emphasize the artists' expressive styles.

 

Peo Alfonsi plays Enzo Guido guitars and uses Carlos Juan pick-ups and preamplifiers.

 

 

Peo Alfonsi

Il Velo di Iside

EGEA Music

CD

Total time 51’ 18’’

2012

by Giuseppe Trotto
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