Nuccini: Matters of Love and Death

Released in the wake of Pillow's (keyboardist Luca Di Mira) Flowing Seasons, one might have expected fellow Giardini di Mirò member Corrado Nuccini to present a similarly elegant collection of instrumentals on his own solo release. Instead, he heads off in a markedly different direction, with Matters of Love and Death sharing as much common sonic ground with the Anticon stylings of Alias, Sole, and Jel as the guitarist's regular outfit. That's largely due to the vocal presence of Tom de Geeter (aka Siaz of hip-hop duo Zucchini Drive), Nomad (Cavemen Speak), and Californian MC Bleubird who spray more syllables over Nuccini's melancholy, orchestrally rich backings than one might have imagined possible. His disc eschews panoramic bucolia for a densely packed ‘city' sound teeming with noise collages, winsome pop melodies, rumbling hip-hop beats, marble-mouthed raps, and expansive arrangements.

Snatches of Nuccini's elegant electric guitar and Emmanuele Reverberi's burnished trumpet and sweetly singing violin surface every now and then but the predominant emphasis is on aggressive MC-based throwdowns (other notable contributions come from band-mate Jukka Reverberi on guitar and bass, and vocal whispers from Scottish singer Kaye Brewster). The material alternates between poppier moments (“Sick Berth”) and violently churning episodes (“You Killed My Father, Prepare To Die”) with a collage of ‘70s clavinet fusion-funk and found sounds (“Tradition & Abstraction”) breaking the flow down the middle. With its marriage of elegant electric guitar, mournful violin, and Anticon-style rapping, “To Take French Leave” offers what might be the best fusion of the two styles. Matters of Love and Death is often as challenging a listen as it is lyrically provocative, a case in point “My Wild Civilization” (“I'm not an alcoholic but I like the thought of being one / I want to know what it's like to not remember/ Come December I'll be sitting stuck / Wings plucked again”).

October 2006