(All Album Reviews by avestin)
Leddi's canvas, Yugen's drawing
This is no coincidence that this is called Yugen Plays Leddi. All music here is composed by him and so do not expect anything like their wonderful Labirinto D'aqua from 2006. In this album Yugen plays the music of Tommaso Leddi, who played in Stormy Six and now plays with the formidable Yugen.
What this album contains is a handful of cheerful music, explorative, experimental, varied in styles and moods, volume and choice of instruments playing and leading each track, diverse in the way its applied in each song, progressive in nature, complex compositions, frivolous and merry, eccentric and beautiful; all of this is found here in abundance. One can find a Miriodor-esque styled perkiness in here in both the compositions and the musicianship along with the use of violin, sax and clarinet.
The sound here is not as 'drowning' and immersing the listener as in their first album Labirinto D'acqua where the rich and 'symphonic'-like style was the equivalent of a wall of sounds tumbling down upon the listener. It is a more laid back affair, with a more airy sound, more fragile in nature. There are instances when the music reminds somewhat of what we heard from Yugen before, such as on track 7, "Sviluppi". There's also a feeling of being in a countryside, enjoying life with a good bottle of wine and cheese when listening to such a track as "Campo". "Colonia" presents a conceived theme around which the band improvises, particularly towards the end of its more than 8 minute length, but never going over the top, and in the procedure showing again their skills as musicians. Appearing towards the end of the album is the "Uova Fatali" suite (tracks 8-12) is remarkable in its form; a disjointed and complex structure and rhythm is at the basis of this 5 parts piece with contributions from the various musicians as the lead instruments, all mingled up. Each part continues in the footsteps of its predecessor, adding a component of its own and presenting a slightly different approach, all the while keeping with the same spirit and remaining in the same frame.
The instrumentation is as varied as the sounds portrayed in the album, though the lineup isn't as big as in the previous album. Nine musicians are given credit here, and there is the (usual) split between acoustic and electric giving them the required breadth to create the variety mentioned above, although not as full blown 'symphonic' as it was in Labirinto D'acqua. We will probably have to wait for their next "proper" album for that to happen.
Overall, there is subtlety here, tenderness even that seems to be at the core of the tunes here ("Escher" and "Piani" are good examples) alongside occasional eerie and awkward instances ("Abisso" for instance).
Yugen draws very well the musical landscape that Leddi has in his mind and manages to convey quite a different experience than its previous release. This release shows Yugen's abilities to play various styles and do it very well, proving again how skilled they are and how wide their musical vision is. For me, this is a more challenging album than their first one; while it is perhaps more accessible, it does not posses the charm Labirinto D'acqua has, but then again it's not supposed to as this is a different 'beast' altogether. For those who liked the first Yugen, be prepared for something different. On its own, this is an intriguing listening experience and worth your time if you like this type of music style.