HC-B: Soundcheck for a Missing Movie
Hidden Shoal

Think Giardini di Mirò's the only “Italian instrumental rock” outfit worth listening to? Not if HC-B (named after French photo-journalist Henri Cartier-Bresson) has anything to say about it, as proven by the Sicilian quintet's explosive, fifty-five-minute opus Soundcheck for a Missing Movie. Gianluca Napoli, Salvatore Fichera, Riccardo Napoli, Federico Laudani, and Giuseppe Musmeci, who have been together since 1999 and issued their debut album Sliding On Barents Sea in 2003, flesh out their already-huge sound with the contributions of string players Andrea Fiorito and Giovanni Fiderio, trumpeter Sergio Montemagno, and vocalist Sabrina Sciacca (Fiorito and Fiderio in particular make their presence felt, with their violins front and center during “Slow Compensation” and “Crystal Lane”).

HC-B serves notice that it means business with an epic ten-minute opener, “A Dusty Book, a City of Lights” whose journey begins with a languorous three minutes of glockenspiel, trumpet, Theremin, and strings before a massive drum groove and an equally loud electric guitar rips the tune apart. As he does throughout the album, drummer Napoli powers “Hot Afternoon in the Bulls' Square” like a man possessed, while exultant horns squabble and a Crimson-oid bass line roars in similarly impassioned spirit. The ferocious shredding that burns through the coda of “Playing with Planes” and the closing “Missing Movie” could heat entire cities.

What distinguishes HC-B's sound is the energy and intensity which they bring to its material—even a somber, two-minute interlude such as “Dead Horse Walking” feels on the verge of detonation, and much the same could be said for the dreamy “Slow Compensation” and Red-like “Crystal Lane.” Soundcheck for a Missing Movie may be a studio recording but it exudes the vitality of a well-oiled band attacking its material live. Tailor-made for fans of Giardini di Mirò, Explosions in the Sky, Do Make Say Think, Pacific UV, and bands of similar stripe.

May 2009