To finally present a trip into terra incognita, the team from Emilia-Romagna cast a glance around the world.
Even by today’s standards the seventeen years which passed between this ensemble’s coming into existence and the issue of their first-ever album should amount to eternity, yet there’s logic in the group’s long ripening: for one, almost all prog collectives are prone to attempting to grasp timelessness, and then, on the way to here and now the Ferrara sextet managed to moderate the overt sentimentality Italian art-rockers have a penchant for. As a result, LAS who began by covering numbers from other Apennine bands’ repertoire, often reworking BANCO’s classics – and making an inspired concert take on “Il giardino del mago” a part of their self-titled debut’s sonic topography – ended up mapping original aural terrain. That’s why their eponymous platter titled “Safe Water Limit” is a journey worth embarking on and enjoying every minute of without understanding more than an occasional word – because music can be the best guide in the world.
Sure, following their chosen genre’s rulebook, these players aren’t averse to painting epics on the melodic canvas expansive enough to let each of the musicians develop individual ideas while creating a common whole, so the brevity of acoustically fluttering “Ti salverà” which closes the record may seem surprising – but again, it will allow the listener to cool down after a majestic voyage. The trip is launched with the cinematic “Sogno d’Oriente” where images of Eastern bazaar come alive as crowd noises get dissolved in pensive violin and plaintive vocalese before percussive rumble brings arresting riffs into focus and pushes Andrea Chendi’s voice to the centerstage to share the limelight with Luca Trabanelli’s soaring six-string lines and Ambra Bianchi’s flute and embrace pop allure alongside spicy exotica and space flights courtesy of Antonello Giovannelli’s synthesizers. The ensemble’s instrumental front doesn’t fail to astonish a fine-tune aficionado, and the piano ripples of the funereal “Terra straniera” must melt the hardest heart until male and female pipes weave around each other to elevate the sprawling ballad to celestial heights and find Paolo Bolognesi’s drums thunder in the best folk tradition over Francesco Gigante’s elastic bass.
Of course, it’s the rhythm section that drives the cosmic funk of “Il respiro dell’anima” towards serrated serenity which could, in an oxymoron way, perplex and maroon anybody if not for elegance behind the passages from upbeat to solemn parts of this piece, but there’s no emotional enigma to the reverie “Antico mare” offers through the song’s unhurried uplift leading to the blazing “Fiamme intorno” – with tempo changes anchored to church organ, pastoral woodwind, romantic ivories and guitar filigree. Here’s a dream to chase all around the map – and possibly beyond, as the band’s next outing can guide their new flock.