Review Summary: First-rate instrumental rock.
Neil on Impression is an Italian post-rock outfit consisting of: Alessio (guitar), Ando (keyboards, piano) Matteo (bass), Paride (trumpet, synthesizers), Riccardo (drums), Riccardo (guitar), Sara (violin). L'oceano Delle Onde Che Restano Onde Per Sempre
is the group’s third release; a double sided disc, it consists of twelve tracks in all.
Within post-rock there are many different niches. There are bands like This Will Destroy you, Explosions in the Sky, and Saxon Shore who play very accessible and formulaic post-rock. Then there are groups like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the Ascent of Everest who are much less concise in their pieces, given to egotistical dawdling and samples of philosophical speeches, (which I personally enjoy). The Samuel Jackson Five exemplify another brand, prone to unique instrumentation and melodic and harmonic treatment. I could go on all day listing other styles, aggressive or electronic ones. Neil on Impression are a group unique to my ears, most similar to Jaga Jazzist if a comparison is necessary. Listening to L'oceano Delle Onde Che Restano Onde Per Sempre
feels more like listening to a James Horner soundtrack then a rock band. Not to say that Neil on Impression are not a rock band, as distorted guitars and rock drums can be found throughout the album. My point is, Neil on Impression have a rare level of fluidity in their music. Whether owing to the scope of instruments they incorporate or perhaps simply their songwriting talent judge for yourself.
Opener “Irlanda” is a working example of their ability. The way the drums change from section to section is so subtle and precise you barely notice them as a unit of their own. Similarly the guitar and strings complement each other exactly, so finely they feel like as one being. Even the progressions and modulations from key to key feel as natural as breathing. It isn’t end-of-the-world glorious, but it’s in stark contrast to the typical (albeit often satisfying) record where pretty guitar melodies float above robot drumming, accompanied by the occasional violin counterpoint etc.
“Il Faro E La Barena” is another shining example of how together Neil on Impressions’ music is. The thick chords and harmonies ebb and flow without error. Each note sounds gloriously and perfectly alive, intimately connected to the one beside it. This beautiful song segues into “Il Giardino Dei Riflessi”, which begins with a palm muted ostinato guitar riff interrupted by offbeat piano chords. The song travels from its syncopated beginning into a moody atmospheric section, led by a brooding violin melody, finishing far away from its rhythmic beginning.
There are several transitional tracks on the album, the aforesaid “Il Faro E La Barena” being one. “Glarontrlkla” is another, featuring guitar, trumpet, accordion, saxophone, and glockenspiel. Repeating the same two chords for its entire two minute duration, the previously stated instruments collaborate for a shimmering and peaceful break.
Then there are the eight other tracks on the record over five minutes long. “Eserciti Di Carta Volgono A Oriente” delivers conventional satisfaction with a fresh and beautiful climax. “Parata Per Quatro Addi”, closer to the second side, goes through several stages, ending darkly on a tumultuous phrase. “La Citta Del Possible” includes a spoken-word bit.
Neil on Impression make what I call music. They don’t discriminately choose from a select set of chord progressions known to induce shivering or fluttery stomachs. They don’t play violins because it’s cool. Whether it’s piano or drum set, each instrument flows delicately in and out of each piece, benefiting the song rather then pulling attention toward itself. The musical organism that is each track on this record exists from start to finish. It is one of those albums that was made to be viewed as an album, but not to the chagrin of the individual tracks. L'oceano Delle onde che Restano onde per Sempre
is an album sure to win the heart of any instrumental music fan, and NoI by extension are deserving of spotlight attention: leaps and bounds ahead of so many bands that keep remaking the same flawed record.