Marcelo Paganini 2020
A quantum leap into the great unknown finds veteran guitarist finally locate his personal place in a grand scheme of things.
To say that Marcelo Paganini’s previous propositions, 2014’s "2012 Space Traffic Jam" and "B4ever Now" from 2018, felt uninspiring wouldn’t mean underestimating his efforts, and the question “Why bother if it’s boring?” could spring to mind of many a listener, yet the veteran’s perseverance paid off rather impressively. Perhaps, the psychological phenomenon which became this album’s title was required for him to deliver the record where melodic surprises are aplenty, so the artist’s profile us guaranteed to get high after its release. There are still famous guests on the platter but the French-Brazilian musician has a firm grip on the steering wheel now, and his vision seems sharp and focused here.
Quite possibly, deceptively repetitive passages of opener “Bacteria” don’t sound too promising and pull this epic down to the ground, yet the blend of Billy Sherwood and Rachel Flowers’s voices and an amalgam of the latter’s piano and Adam Holzman’s electric keyboards produce a trance-like experience, with Chad Wackerman’s drums upping the piece’s hypnotic level whence fusion freedom transpires to reign to fuel Paganini’s guitar filigree. That’s why once the streamlined “Circus Is Empty” has entered an angular cocoon to swirl further, the surrounding sonic spaces start to pulse as a black hole, threatening to suck one’s psyche in and let the ivories devour it whole, while the acoustic licks of “Soul Much Further Away” bare Marcelo’s soft underbelly – embroidered with Karla Downey’s cosmic wail and punctured with Lenny White’s percussive jive – before the balladry of “Learn To Love To Wait” is ruffled with anxious, albeit pellucid, riffage and synthesizers’ acrobatics.
And then, there’s cinematic, spiritually solemn “Tangerine Way” that allows Paganini project a multi-faceted six-string orchestra over the album’s most captivating melody – majestically slow but heart-rending and worth the price the admission alone – only to see the effusive “Captain’s Face” drive into trad smooth jazz which is drenched in vaudeville drama, smeared with sax and pressed by Hammond. This is the crisis to relate to and savor the adventure – and for Marcelo to locate his true identity at last.