Paolo Angeli


Trying to simplify a very complex issue, I'd say that in the current landscape of "improvised music for guitar" Paolo Angeli nowadays occupies a position of "pleasant classicism", whereas his music can be easily defined as being "beautiful" in an accessible way - though never "pretty". So, for once I'll start with the conclusion of the review by suggesting to the reader to have a listen to Bucato, an album of many merits whose discreet charming aura will reward attentive listeners.

With a long career and a personal maturation already behind him, Paolo Angeli's influences are definitely not apparent anymore; some names having been mentioned - say, Fred Frith - more from laziness/ease of communication, I think, Angeli definitely being his own man. Or maybe it's because of the instrument he uses - according to the CD cover, it's a "sardinian prepared guitar" of considerable dimensions. The fruit of a long and careful refining process, this instrument makes it possible to have original timbres and original playing techniques, which enable the player to produce bizarre polyphonies. (The CD booklet has a nice picture of it, but I would have liked to read more about the way it works; and I believe the same to be true for the potential buyer, whom I imagine to be of the "attentive, non casual" type.)

The album assembles live recordings from various venues in a way that's stylistically compatible but not at all monotonous - no overdubs, of course. Some arias I'd say to have more than a superficial link to the Sardinian tradition, but they are never "folkish" in a facile way. It's definitely not a record one could call "dramatically abrasive".

A couple of observations that one hopes will be useful. First, the CD is miles too long (while introducing a track Angeli tells the audience that his playing time at the venue had to be "about forty, fifty" minutes and really I think he should have followed his own suggestion - the times when people complained that CDs were "too short" are over, right?), since an excessive length greatly reduces the appeal of the CD's atmospheres. Maybe 'cause it's too long, I noticed the "pedal" is being used a bit too often: what about a bit more movement, next time?

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2003 | Aug. 26, 2003