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coverpic flag Italy - Full Moon 125 - 12/05/06

Too Emotional For Maths
Hidden Shoal Recordings / Slowmotionpinguino

Italian quartet Dilatazione's excellent debut album Too Emotional For Maths takes me back to the late '90s when I first started getting into instrumental rock. After being blown away by Mogwai's Ten Rapid I quickly gathered up an armful of releases that followed a similar trajectory - to varying degrees of success. And that eventually became a problem: for every Ten Rapid there was a forgettable album by . . . some band I've already forgotten the name of.

Eschewing the soft-loud dynamics that too often leave this kind of music in the snore-inducing realms of predictability, Too Emotional For Maths is so tightly woven together using serpentine guitar and bass melodies, crisp drum patterns, the occasional use of vibes, samples and loops, and concise song structures, that the album has finished long before you've had a chance to get bored (it's a tidy 38 minutes long).

The opening two tracks "Wendy Carlos" and "Solo in una strada affollata" are beautiful, running into one another seamlessly, setting the tone for the rest of the record: these guys can play. From there, they show how you can include vocals in an instrumental record without it sounding shit ("Cendre in" and "Cendre out"), how to make drums sound really cool by feeding them through a phaser ("Ivano Menchetti"), and how to end an album by setting up a heavenly wall of guitars, repeating them over and over until the listener is rapt with wonder, and then abruptly cutting out, like Talk Talk's majestic "Ascension Day" off Laughing Stock ("Tutto si dimentica").

The sound does feel a little busy at times, and the punchy snare can really cut through your skull if you're feeling delicate - but these are minor quibbles. Dilatazione have created an addictive, intelligent album with obvious appeal for anyone who likes the kind of well-crafted, melodic instrumental music currently produced by bands like Tortoise.

Copyright © 2006 Tim Clarke e-mail address

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