Thursday, 21 July 2011

Alberto Rigoni - Expect the Unexpected

Album Review
Alberto Rigoni’s REBIRTH
Genre: Progressive Rock

It was only recently that I discovered Alberto Rigoni’s music, so I am behind the curve in terms of his coming up as a musician, but when I heard his latest, called Rebirth, I became an instant fan.

A gathering of words to describe the record might include: ambient, atmospheric, psychedelic, new-age, progressive, jazzy, and powerful, but I like the term experimental best of all.

Rebirth is a diverse collection of tunes that weaves through and circles around the topic of new beginnings. It’s not a linear story from A to Z - more like a sampler of one man’s examination of himself from many different sides.

An album like this demands a lot from the bass as lead instrument. As soon as the bass becomes the lead voice, our ears go looking for the monster at the bottom of the ocean. Rigoni releases that monster on a few aggressive tunes, but for the most part, shows us the more melodic possibilities of the bass. The result is a hybrid of tone that reminds us that underneath the thunder is a melodic sound that’s both soothing and relaxing.

Alberto Rigoni is a bassist whose music deserves to be in the collection of all who love innovative, creative tuneage!

Rebirth is the second solo album by this Italian bassist, but that does not mean Alberto is new on the scene. He started out in a Dream Theater cover band called Ascra; in 2003 he joined a new progressive rock band called Twinspirits. He was also half of the duet, Lady and the BASS. His first solo album is called Something Different, and now Rebirth, which was released in May of this year. So when Alberto reaches his 30th birthday this December, he will have been part of 8 separate albums.

Oh yeah, and that doesn’t include the albums on which he’s played as guest musician!

He’s a relatively young bassist whose career is already filled with recorded accomplishments.

But is it good music? In this day and age, it’s getting easier to turn out records in great quantity. But what does the artist actually say to us? Does he leave lasting impressions? Do his songs stand the test of time?

In the end, some things never change - in music, that thing is that no matter the quantity, the validation of quality will always lie with the listener. And I found Rebirth to be a project of great quality.

Rigoni must have undergone a very important event in his life to have found the inspiration for this work. The very title suggests he has found himself at a crossroads and is about to decide what will be his new path. It’s an inward looking album, with an outwardly extended hand. He allows the listener into his private places and grants us license to take back those parts we might want or need in our own lives. Rebirth is about sharing.

The album transcends all predictable bass genres and keeps the listener in a perpetual mood swing. Since this is the very nature of undergoing a big-time event in one’s life, Rigoni shows us how he handles things. He lets the music ask the questions, “What now? What’s next?”

The album is nine songs, so let’s have a look at them one by one.

1 - Free. This is a slick, progressive number with lots of groove. It starts with a jangling solo bass intro that is quickly filled out by the band. There are several pauses, after which the song veers off in different directions. I see that as demonstrative of the not-always-easy choices of being free. About halfway through, you get to a heavy, percussive rock groove and a friendly keyboard that dances blithely through the metal. Free is just that - free of any restrictions as to how it should sound and where it should go. It just goes.

2 - Rebirth. Ahh, we open with a tasty fretless. I also love the keyboard in this one - an atmospheric, soothing, almost whistling wave throughout. The depth and range of the bass in this song is unbelievable. And because this is the title track, it defines the process of a man undergoing change. A moment of calm after the more powerful opening song.

3 - Story of a Man. The fact that Rigoni uses guest basses on this record is the mark of a true musician. Lead guitars often appear in multiples, so why should the bass be any different? They play in overlapping blends, each player creating his own part in the story. I also love the dark mood swing this one takes on at about three minutes in. Like a battle cry or a march - serious and determined! The song closes in a softer vein and leaves us wondering where this man has decided to go.

4 - The Net. Shortest song on the album. Two minutes. Rhythmic and repeating. A gentle new-age tune that seems more like an easy, appropriate segue between two fuller pieces.

5 - Emptiness. Beautiful synthesizer opening that leads into a bold rock stomper. One of two vocal songs on the album, it features the voice of Swedish singer, Jonas Erixon, in a heavy, masculine lament of the questions that plague the heart.

Considering Erixon’s big, expressive voice, I first thought it was set a little low in the mix - I would have expected it to have been more featured at the front, but after listening to the album on a couple of different sets of headphones, as well as out in the open air, I found it was only really low on one particular set of headphones.

I also gave it some thought from the mixer’s point of view, and found a new way of seeing it. It’s a very interesting tack to take such a big voice and play it softer in the mix. People usually expect a big-voiced man to stomp through the room like a tyrannosaur. It brings a whole new feel to the song when that presence is kept softer. Another inward moment, perhaps.

6 - A New Soul. Another beautiful blended bass melody. A weaving of harmonies and feelings. This is the kind of song that quiets you down for a few minutes and gets you thinking about your own life.

7 - With all My Forces. This is the other tune with Jonas Erixon’s big voice. What I like about Rigoni’s style is that he knows when the bass needs to control the song, and when it needs to be part of the ensemble. In this one, the bass barks like a big dog, but also mixes well with guitar and drums. Most of this comes from his experience in bands. He works and plays well with others.

8 - Ontogeny. This fast tune starts with jazzy drums and then a sweeping synth with ambient voices. The bass then comes up - first as a great beat, and then as the melody. As the synth sways in the background, the bass keeps an infectious thunder. Add a few more of those great keyboard licks, and this song shows us the more ambitious side of being reborn. Wait for the outrageously addictive bass and drum workout in the middle of the song!

9 - White Shine. Keyboard opening, and then more of that beautiful bass melody with a steady under-beat that pulses the tune along . With its classic influences, this is a nice way to end the record. As I listened, the word I found was hope.

This is a great collection. I recommend it to all who enjoy creative bass and feel like taking a step away from the traditional!

Thanks for putting this album together, Alberto - you are a man of diversity, innovation, passion, and great spirit. The face of modern bass music.

The Band

Alberto Rigoni (bass)
Yves Carbonne (bass on 2, 3)
Michael Manring (bass on 3, 6)
Gavin Harrison (drums on 1, 5, 7)
John Macaluso (drums on 3, 8 )
Jonas Erixon (vocals on 5, 7)
Tommy Ermolli (guitars on 1, 5)
Simone Mularoni (guitars on 7)
Federico Solazzo (keyboards on 1, 2, 9)
Filippo Lui (keyboards on 5)
Emanuele Casali (keyboards on 7)
Andrea Pavanello (keyboards on 8 )

Visit ALBERTO'S WEBSITE for his full bio, news on upcoming events, and samples from the Rebirth record.

Also visit these sites for Alberto's other projects:




In addition to being available on his website, Alberto's music can also be found on CD Baby, Napster, Amazon, and ITunes.

Alberto has already completed his new project in a duet called The BASStards. Now how can you go wrong with a name like that? Once again, the themes go off in a new and experimental direction. A video of one of the songs, Obsession, is available on The BASStards Website, so grab yourself a look.

© 2011 CL Seamus for Thunder Row

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