MARCO MATTEI – Out Of Control

7D Media / Third Star 2021

Out Of Control

Arriving from the Apennine Peninsula to conquer first America and then the world, a man of multi-instrumental stripe steps out into the open to progress beyond the pale.

“The more the things change, the more they stay the same”: these words perfectly reflect this artist’s outlook. Loyal to, yet not restricted by, classic rock values, the Italian musician has been preparing to debut under his own name for a few years now, and “Out Of Control” is worth the wait and the effort, the album’s release on Trey Gunn’s label a testament to its strength. It’s also a reason for Civitavecchia, whence an array of renowned people came in the 20th century, to add Marco Mattei to the city’s Hall of Fame.

Here he’s exploring porous pockets of prog rock but keeping the perspective pop enough for the listener’s focus to never shift and letting funk and folk to seep in and periodically refresh the aural panorama. The results of such an approach may seem confusingly eclectic, what with instrumental “Tomorrow” deftly delving into and detailing the country blues idiom and opener “Would I Be Me” steeped in raga whose spicy sitar stresses the platter’s concept – existence at the center of matters that are beyond our powers – yet doesn’t render the sound exotic, especially as Marco’s six-string strum and synthesizer passages are peppered by Jerry Marotta’s sympathetic percussion and grounded by Tony Levin’s delicate bass. But then, the latter is joined by Pat Mastelotto to give a fractured groove to “Picture In A Frame” while Mattei’s sweet guitar harmonies build a nervously vibrating wall.

Despite several vocalists featured here – among them Marco’s young son voicing, over the wail of steel and fiddle, the warm “Lullaby For You” – there’s a wholeness to this record, and all the prominent guests play for the song rather than serve up a star spot. Still, it’s Mattei’s own twang and riffs that drive the space balladry of “More Intense” and the woodwind-adorned pastorale of “I’ll Be Born” towards the place where matters of the heart depend on simple pleasures – which is why the heavy attack offered in “Anymore” feels so alien to the album’s flow. So if the frenzied freezing of “Void” has to locate intimacy in nebulosity that’s out there, beyond the pale, deafened by Chad Wackerman’s drums, the piano-laden lines of “On Your Side” are magnificently soft and insistent at the same time; and if the brief filigree of “After Tomorrow” evokes the spirit of prairies, “Hidden Gems” finds beauty in half-abstract figures, before the tremendously tremulous cover of Andy Timmons’ “Gone” reveals the scope of Marco’s lyrical leanings and bares his tangible tone.

Mattei’s a new force on the scene, one to keep an eye on, for his widescreen perception world should bring a lot of delightful surprises further down the road.


November 30, 2021

Category(s): Reviews
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