Peter Cincotti | Metropolis

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16.11.2012..

Musical critics and laymen tend often to label the artists and their way of expressing themselves. Peter Cincotti has been labelled too. He is a jazz crooner, since he tells, through musical arrangements in romantic/sentimental style, his own intimate, private stories. The fact is that Peter knows jazz very well. He started its study in tender age and his background has made him an excellent singer and pianist, a fundamental skill for an artist who claims to have as a myth Frank Sinatra.

 

The initial three albums, the first dates back to 2003, are permeated of a crooner mood, although the very personal sound dimensions show an introspective impatience towards the standardized production, the warm and reassuring womb of the great mama jazz. This deep inner tension explodes with the album Metropolis, issued at the end of this summer under the Heads Up label. It is a work with unexpected centrifugal directions and perhaps may disorient the fans that have adored the Cincotti of On the moon. We cannot speak of abjuration of the past, though. In fact, the songwriter, with Italian origins, states that Metropolis is a record of continuity, different in the surface under a stylistic point of view, but with only one fil rouge, he himself, proud of having created just the work he had in mind. The impression is that a great leap forward has been made.

Starting from the iconography. You cannot identify Peter as a crooner if you look at him posing in front of the photographer with his smart appearance, his crested rockabilly hair and his designer suit. He seems a modern guy strictly adherent to his time. The title is more than ever up-to-date: it reminds the environment and the urban society. Also the cover speaks of modernity with an iris that is a zoom lens and acts as an observatory on the technologic and politic revolution. The sound is unequivocally affected by the new inspiring contexts and heads straight towards the techno/electric pop, tenaciously beat and meant as a pounding. An hypnotic pulsation that is seen as the rhythmic framework of almost the entire album, where each track, in the author’s intentions, lives like a Metropolis quarter, with stories that are different but contemporary. The producer John Fields has been chosen for his ability of finding the best sound solutions that are also the most suitable for whatever melodic form. He takes part at the album as a guitarist and a keyboarder too. The recording approach is not traditional since it prefers the simultaneity of the parts with a massive use of the computer. The numerous instruments seem many “soloist” instruments at the service of the song form, which is concise and synthetic, wrapping Peter’s formative seeds. He plays the piano, the Rhodes and the Wurlitzer, without dispensing anything that seems nowhere near a solo.

 

Metropolis is the city of a different dimension where the reality is upside-down. Dirty floors over the head, clouds beneath the feet, where birds walk and men fly. Where down is up, where hello is goodbye. The floating city where the truth is a lie, the right wrong. The song is evocative, hard, with punchy drums and the voice stretched till the falsetto, with keyboards and the electric guitar protagonist and predominant on a piano that materialize itself only in few reflective pauses.

The soundtrack of a film whose plot is a city of the future. The laity of the album lies in the track My religion, where the artist, careless of someone’s else opinions, chooses it as his own religion because the only one to answer his questions, without compromises and with the future revealed to the eyes. The musical structure follows the song before. Obstinate drumming, energetic voice, great keyboards array. A definitely hard-pop song with a refrain suitable to be a disco mix. Do or Die, despite the strong message, simply speaks of a frequent situation nowadays: being in an elevator with a stranger and attractive girl trying to find the right words and not just a hi. An opportunity not to miss, carpe diem. In a more quite contest and with less music saturation, Cincotti is at best with an ironic singing and an agreeable Rhodes as counterpoint. It is a pity that the usual drumming renders this song heavy instead of making it perfect in its lightness. A played in arpeggio piano introduces Take a good look, a melodic ballad very well built on the theme of time which, like the rain, can rust also the strongest love. The suggestion towards the partner is that what changes is not the feeling but the people. “Take a good look, take it all in, ‘cause we’re nothing like her or like him anymore. Some thing’s changed, c’mon you know it’s us”. The track is instrumentally barer and gives us a Cincotti at the top. He is a dramatic narrator who tells a truth that makes suffer but that has to be accepted because an aspect of life. Nothing to object, melodic pop, never mellifluous, a small jewel that gives me shivers. Nothing’s enough is a funk’n’soul both traditional, with an up-tempo piano, and modern with a good presence of keyboards and programming, rock hints in the riff overdrives of the electric guitar, the bass drum under pressure and the rambling voice. The theme is the insatiability of everything: food, Tv channels or girls. “Got the girl of my dreams and feel lucky I met her, but I can’t help lookin’ for someone better”. Magnetic tells of the force emanated by the physical attraction when you loose your mind and your body, in the full awareness of making a mistake: “I don’t want to touch you, but you’re magnetic”. You succumb to physical attraction. The song has a substrate of eroticism, sometimes explicit but never heavy: “And while we’re standing lip to lip, I ear something unzip”. Musically is a very “synthesized” track, even in the voice that has a metallic tone except when follows the powerful guitar excursions screaming that there is no more energy to fight for.

 

From now on, the album turns to an easy pop that rises in the chart. Peter cuts that thin umbilical cord that kept him stuck to his roots and, alas, sees fading the peculiar features of his personality as a musician. He becomes a Zelig – I apologise to Woody Allen for this quote – and still speaking of urban life, in a politic, social, romantic or sentimental way, he starts to look like Billy Joel, a bit like Elton John, with a squirt of Robbie Williams. Cincotti strongly claims the concept that homogenizes the album, stating that the sounds he has chosen are the reflex of the urban landscapes that constitutes the setting. A work that offer a perspective of our times that are revolutionary but with the same problems as always. The guess is to push the people to click the “pause” button on the madness of the daily existence and to become capable of exploring the world of Metropolis. The profundity of this leading thread is not enough to cry masterpiece. To be appreciated, the record has to be maintained in its context: pop music. Interpreted by an artist with excellent skills as a singer, musician and composer, but still pop. I think this is only a phase of an evolution, of a dimension research. In fact, Peter leaves open the glimmer of a sequel when says the aim are the songs but in the live event it will be possible to explore new spaces, looking at them from different points of view and maybe playing more solos. Knowing his background we trust him blindly and waiting for his next test. However, we want to remind him that also in the modern cities it is very easy to meet a lonely saxophonist that plays Charlie Parker in the corner of a street.

 

 

Peter Cincotti

Metropolis

Heads Up International

CD

Total time 46’20’’

2012

by Giuseppe Trotto
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