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Armonite – The Sun Is New Each Day

The Sun Is New Each Day

The Sun Is New Each Day

I have an undying respect for Italy’s progressive rock underground. In the good old days, the country’s collective offering to the genre was arguably second only to the British prog powerhouse. Even then, Italy had a theatrical sound that was distinctly its own. While I’m not sure it would be quite fair to lump Armonite in under the same canon as Premiata Forneria Marconi and their ilk, there’s a similar sense of adventurousness in their sound that you seldom hear in modern prog anymore. The Sun Is New Each Day bridges the gap between avant-prog and art rock. Blended together under an instrumental approach, it’s surprising that this is only Armonite’s second album. While they’re a bit too eclectic to have a distinctive sound of their own, their consummate playfulness clearly indicates that they’re confident enough to know what they’re doing.

In my experience of avant-prog, I’ve noticed that groups fall into one of two categories: The first focus heavily on the cerebral element of the avant-garde, treating their art as an intellectual exercise, while the second tries to inject that serious framework with character and humour. While it’s lamentable that few of these artists are as skilled in comedy as they are as musicians, it’s a great blend when it works well. It’s impressive in its own right that Armonite are able to get the impression of humour across with a minimum of vocals. Save for a handful of spoken word samples, The Sun Is New Each Day is entirely instrumental, but you can still tell that Armonite approach their craft with their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks. Arguably, the best example of their humour is on ‘Insert Coin’, where a playful rhythm is spruced up with 8-bit video game samples.

Armonite

Armonite

Musically, Armonite are defined by Jacopo Bigi‘s electric violin filling in the role of a lead guitar. Although the band’s sound shifts too much from song to song to develop a singular sense of character, his violin carries a lot of the their performance along. As performers, Armonite are at the top of their game; such as it is, I’m shocked that they’ve been relatively silent since their debut release nearly two decades ago. Veteran proggers may be excited to hear that Porcupine Tree bassist Colin Edwin takes part on the album. The thick bass grooves on Porcupine Tree’s material are replaced here by playful licks, but the same talent is undeniable. Hopefully it won’t be another sixteen years before we hear another record from Armonite. This approach may have been heard before, but it’s not often you hear it done with such liveliness.

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Track List:

01) Suitcase War
02) Connect Four
03) ‘G’ as in Gears
04) Sandstorm
05) Slippery Slope
06) Satellites
07) Die Grauen Herren
08) Le temps qui fait ta rose
09) Insert Coin
10) Bastian’s Happy Flight

Written by: Conor Fynes
Label: Independent (Italy) / None / Digital
Art Rock / Avant-garde / Progressive Rock

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