Ennio Morricone’s guitarist of choice paints an aural picture to eliminate interpersonal separation.
Two-decades-long work with the most prolific film composer has shed a blaze of glory on Rocco Zifarelli’s playing but it’s also kept the Italian musician too busy, and when he was free enough the guitarist always preferred joining challenging projects such as DEFUNKT or sharing the stage with MAHAVISHNU associates to striking out on his own, so it’s hardly surprising that “Music Unites” is the maestro’s only second solo album – a belated follow-up to “Lyndon” from 1998. A different proposition, here’s a product of our time: suitably cinematic and anxiety-ridden, if always mischievous and filled with many a twist and turn.
Thus, what starts in “Northern Line” as musique concrète and weaves snippets of spoken word into a backdrop for a six-string strum turns out to be an entrancing prayer, where a tender trumpet and intense incantation gradually blend together into a scintillating whole only to let carnivalesque fun in before dissolving it in a flamenco lace and ushering in a jazz attack back. Also carrying voices, “Aural” has defiant fusion written all over the electronica-kissed passages which veer from dense to light, albeit insistent, yet never lose their tuneful focus, even when electric axe offers a fervent solo – a contrast to the acoustic twang of “Les clan des Siciliens” whose piquancy, reprised even more delicately at the record’s finale, is simply irresistible.
Still, the beat leading into another Morricone melody, “The Untouchables” with it fractured riff, feels just as infectious, as the groovy splashes of ivories and bare bluesy licks get propelled to a quite exciting anti-climax, although it’s a cymbals-caressed process, rather than an absent coda, that should send shivers down the listener’s spine. Of course, the title of “Essential Blues” will prove to be wildly deceptive, because its dialogue-stricken funky filigree can’t share the piece’s epic context with gloom, and neither can “With The Help Of God, Shine” whose raga is translucent and transfixing at the same time, earnestly reigning over the number’s Eastern drift.
Closer to home, there’s an amazing vocal polyphony and guitar rave in “Abidjan” – the “DJ” part being a key to many of this album’s moments, stricken with effects and enriched with samples – giving the record’s title not only wait but also flair. If Rocco Zifarelli is to stay on this path from now on, world music has a new major player on its team.