CD Review – Sacri Cuori “Rosario”
This album has been in heavy rotation here at Blabber’n’Smoke ever since we were able to get a copy at Sacri Cuori‘s superb gig with Dan Stuart at King Tuts last month. From Italy and primarily an instrumental band press releases and record label notes would lead one to expect a spaghetti western version of Calexico and that’s a little bit unfair on the band as they have much more to offer than dust blown soundtracks to non existent cowboy movies.
Having said that there’s no doubt that they are influenced by the sounds of the American south west. Their first album, Douglas & Dawn was recorded in Tucson with some of Giant Sand and Calexico in attendance and John Convertino appears here. However there is a heavy European influence also present which is dominated by the music of Nino Rota, best known for his film scores for Fellini and The Godfather theme, with whirls of circus like tumbles and mournful swollen horns such as tuba recalling his dizzying work. Elsewhere there are glimpses of Joe Meek’s clockwork science fiction sounds and occasional glimmers of Krzysztof Komeda.
Essentially a trio (Antonio Gramentieri, guitars, Christian Ravaglioli, various keyboards and wind instruments and Francesco Giampaoli, bass) Sacri Cuori are expanded here with Diego Sapignoli providing various percussive effects and sound samples while Enrico Mao Bocchini drums on several tracks while Denis Valentini adds percussion and horns. Ravaglioli and Sapignoli in particular beaver away on so many instruments with the result that the album is a multilayered cornucopia of delights while Gramantieri evokes surf music, Santo and Johnny’s Sleepwalk, The Lounge Lizards jazz noire and Link Wray. While they proved at King Tuts that they can pull this off live as a quartet on the album they are joined by a stellar cast of supporting players including Convertino, Jim Keltner, David Hidalgo, Stephen McCarthy, JD Foster and Marc Ribot.
Although this is essentially an instrumental album another star guest opens the proceedings as Isobel Campbell sings the opening Silver Dollar. With her trademark whispy voice Campbell croons as the band swoon around her in a dreamlike state with keening lap steel and banjo from Stephen McCarthy. Like a Lee Hazlewood song scored by Angelo Badalmenti it’s a fine curtain raiser. Campbell reappears and does another fine job on Garrett, East, a relatively unadorned song featuring Dobro and prepared piano that is delicate as gossamer. It’s worth noting that Campbell wrote the lyrics for both songs.
The remainder of the album is an atmospheric broth of tunes with only occasional voices, sampled or sung, to add colour. While each and every one has its own beauty and repeated listens reveal new delights a few gems merit mention. The stately slow tango of Fortuna has some outstanding guitar work from Gramantieri while Lido recalls the Cuban sensuality captured so well by Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban on their album Mambo Sinuendo. Sipario’s swirling keyboards revisit the heady delights of Rota’s Amacord while Teresita starts off with Tex-Mex keyboards before the song swirls into outer space. Finally the juggernaut drive of Sei takes the listener down dark menacing highways with squalls of guitar, screeching horns and a disembodied voice. Short and to the point if David Lynch decides to remake Lost Highway he’s got his opening song right here.
This album is ridiculously good. As we have said it repays repeated listens as the ear discovers and hones in on yet another fine detail and the mind paints pictures to go with the music. Hopefully it won’t be long before these Italian suoni maghi are back in Glasgow to thrill and delight us.
Originally posted on Blabber’n’Smoke