Independent Artist 2022
To scrutinize and celebrate: Bolognese musicologist brings his seventh full-length offering into humanity’s inner world.
More than three decades since this composer started making waves on the art-rock scene and 15 years down the line from his official debut, Alex Carpani’s universe is still expanding, growing in scope both without and within a single person’s experience. Primarily a keyboardist, he previously fathomed emotional distances on “So Close. So Far” but “Microcosm” has a different sort of scope to measure, driving into one’s mental capacities. Only there’s more to it than meets the mind’s eye.
Just like its six predecessors, this is a concept album whose focus on the enormous potential of the brain might seem defied, rather than defined, by the deceptively illogical choice of opener, if only “Starless” – the first cover in Carpani’s career, apart from a Bach classic on 2007’s “Waterline” – didn’t display a stunning array of synthetic lines and effects that take the listener much further into their psyche than Alex’s unassuming voice. Yet once the belligerent beats and belching bass churn up the Mellotron-led melody and allow electronica caress the familiar balladry in the most refreshing manner, all the puzzle pieces fall into place, so the anxious swirl of “Kiss And Fly” – as sung by Jon Davison – doesn’t feel too dramatic until heavy chords break the cut’s translucence which guitar waves and ivories’ ripples bring forth, and the gloom of “God Bless Amerika” doesn’t feel too depressing, thanks to the frivolity of David Jackson’s sax.
However, the impressive beginning could create an issue of having to follow it up with the equally captivating tunes. That’s why, while the dry, AOR-slanted likes of “The Mountain Of Salt” will not qualify, despite the solemn presence of organ, the understated gorgeousness behind “We Can’t Go Home Tonight” where Theo Travis’ reeds and Davide Rinaldi’s guitar shine is as irresistible as the instrumental “Prime Numbers” where baroque boogie and loose interplay produce an eerie, albeit arresting, effect, before offering the otherwise bleak “What Once Was” an infectious riff and retrofuturistic passages. So when “When The Tears Roll Down” has David Cross‘ violin fed into this number’s welcoming twang, the album’s progressive elements are revealed in full, to be rendered triumphant in “The Outer World” – the record’s cosmic anthem – and heartfelt in the platter’s vibrantly tender title track.
The result is wonderfully flawed – but so is human’s mind, and “Microcosm” celebrates this imperfection in style.