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Stereokimono - Ki

Stereokimono - KiFrom their name, you could be excused for thinking Stereokimono is a Japanese band, but you would be wrong.  In fact Cristina Atzori (drums, percussion), Antonio Severi (guitars, keyboards) and Alessandro Severi (bass, keyboards) who make up the trio that is Stereokimono hail from Bologna in Italy.  Playing the music classification game, I would say it definitely fits into the prog category, sometimes jazzy, sometimes bluesy, often experimental but the band jokingly refer to it as ‘psycophonic oblique rock’ which when you hear it, is not far from the truth.

Ki, which was released in November 2000, opens with the track EH! AH! And the sound of a dripping tap that abruptly turns into something that a merger of King Crimson and Gentle Giant may have thought up. 

Track 2, Apoteotico (trans: Apotheosis) starts with a slow walking bass line and echo electric guitar, which with spacey synth could be from the X-Files.  This soon opens up into a bouncy Gentle Giant style melody delicately performed yet with underlined aggression – I’d love to see a live performance. 

Track 3 is entitled Phileas Fogg, he of Around The World In Eighty Days fame.  The intro to this is very much in a Camel (Moonmadness) vein but as you would expect from an 11 minute track, changes abound with the overall effect being Porcupine Tree plus oodles of jazz two thirds of the way through.  There’s more than a nod towards Pink Floyd’s Wish you Were Here and Animals in terms of sound and composition.

Track 4, Per Vederlo Devi Chiudere Gli Occhi (trans: In Order To See It You Have To Close Your Eyes), opens with an old recording of a softly spoken voice in German that sounds dark and spooky.  A translation by my friend Laura H. indicates he is saying, "There you will find a meadow, you are so tired. Now just let yourself sink into the silence of the grass and stretch your tired limbs out. That will do you good, that will do you good.” so the speaker is most probably Sigmund Freud.  The theme then becomes fast and furious a little like Sparks then develops into an exotic middle eastern sounding Madness instrumental closing with a drowsy low monotone humming/breathing in time to a heartbeat.  The visualisation words spoken and the slow ‘breathing at the end are indicative of relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques.

L’Altra Marea (trans: A Different Tide) is described in the liner notes as “Electric waves and magnetic currents for a futuristic waltz in ¾ to try out in the dance hall…” the first three minutes of which features all manner of electronic sounds (Genesis The Waiting Room) followed by, well, electric waves and magnetic currents in ¾ with wonderful intermingling of instruments painting a Floydian wash.  I did mention the Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd feel this album has, didn’t I?

Istanbul Di Giorno (trans: Instanbul By Day) invokes the very atmosphere of Turkey so much so you can almost smell the food.  Interestingly, the opening ‘howling wind’ reminds me of Floyd’s One Of These Days.

Penultimate track, Concerto N. 1 Per Pianoforte E Sgabello (trans: Concerto N. 1 For Piano And Stool) is explained by the liner notes as the piano stool envious of the piano attempts to become a violin.  A short track at only a minute.  The creaking turning to screeching is unfortunately reminiscent of my right shoulder joint!

The final track, Il Nulla Respira (trans: The Nothingness Breathes) sounds a little like an obtuse Violinski’s Clog Dance (featuring ELO’s Mik Kaminsky back in 1978) but with jazz influence.  The album ends with the recording in German the literal translation of which appears to be "I will sit down there", perhaps implying that that the music has worked and the subject of the therapy is relaxed.

The CD is packaged in a double folded high gloss card (the central design feature is embossed) with the CD contained in a separate full colour inner sleeve.  Also included is a separate sheet with track explanations and English translations of the track listing (I did Latin at school but alas no Italian).

After reading the above, you may be misled into thinking that this album is a little ‘off the wall’ experimentally, but you would be wrong.  Yes, it explores new avenues but it also pays homage to styles we are probably more at home to – technology and tradition – stereo kimono.  The end result is a very listenable and enjoyable embarkation into something that deviates slightly away from the norm.  The musicianship and innovative compositions are to be congratulated.  A good meal followed with a bottle of Chianti Classico, low lighting and Stereokimono’s Ki will soon get you travelling your own inner world for an all too short 48 minutes.

Jem Jedrzejewski


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