Giant Electric Pea 2019
Tuscan quartet’s descent into dark recesses of a restless mind – in search of light and laughter.
Lately, prog rock seemed increasingly obsessed with gloom, not entertainment, and such was the path this Italian ensemble chose to take from 2016’s “Painkeeper” onward, with their sophomore offering veering into plain depression. It’s not the subject, though – a story of a terminally ill girl, K., and the people in her life – that affects the listener’s mood here; it’s the music’s blackness which is being piled on in bold symphonic moves. The pieces on display all have optimistic moments shimmering at the bottom of the well – only reaching for surface doesn’t come easy.
With dimmed melodies in abundance, the band occasionally linger on repetitive passages adding alternate riffs, bar after bar, to what could sound much better and be truly impactful in more concise form, so while there’s a touch of funk to “Fierce Fear Family” which otherwise defaults to art-rock cliches, relating to the protagonists emotions would prove difficult. The effervescent weave of Nicola Pedreschi’s piano and Lorenzo Gherarducci’s guitars may gleam alluringly in “Hope” or “A New Beginning” – the latter drawing on luminous fusion, the former exploring microcosm via synthesizers’ dance – yet the vocal front and bare groove on “Lost In A Lullaby” will project the most human aspect of this record.
Still, it’s in the minimal instrumental setting of the title track is where the artists’ abilities shine through, even when bluesy licks lead the tune astray, into metal territory, to hit heavier than the standard balladry of “Faintly Falling” that female voice drive close to home. Strangely, the epic “Rain Over Gentle Travellers” makes the finale anticlimactic as time signatures and uninspired singing move focus from reverie back to despair. A solid, but not charming, work.