(2009 - VesnaHaus - Italy)
I saw Dario Elia play live at Lucid Jazz Lounge (Seattle, WA) back on August 2, 2012, where he fronted the band Sugar Pants (jazz band) to play his own brand of music. I spoke with him before the gig and got a copy of his debut solo ‘Vie Impervie’ to review. There is much to hear in his music that ranges from a meditative nature to sound installation, jazz hybrid, avant garde explorations, and unexpected twists from one mood to another. His music has mixes of spiritual walkabout, deconstruction, sampling, ebb and flow, plus miles of notes allowing the words to stay free from the possible prison of the music. He’s been compared to everyone from David Sylvian, Brian Eno, Mike Patton, Bjork, Fripp, Tuxedomoon and Meredith Monk. With the variety of musicians (specifically the three other guest vocalists) used on his recording, it stretches further in comparisons to my ears across the 9 tracks. I’d compare some elements of Dario’s music to many on the Lovely Music label in those glorious experimental word and music days. Also, the extended vocal technique of his Italian homeland artists like Claudio Milano. His music is like cheese, any way you slice it, it’s good.
Dario was most concerned with the realization to play these compositions live, and so were the band members. The title of the work gives insight as to the music’s birth and passage. “Vie” means ways, and can be applied either as a physical path, or means, as to a suggested solution to the problem at hand. "Impervie" means impervious or trackless, to suggest the ambiguity of the material or the metaphorical. The tunes are laid out like mini soundtracks for the mind. You have some instances of operatic influence, ambient, and even a mutated post rock styling. The use of computer on stage allows the transition of the studio to the live performance, although the visuals are projected on the back wall, the audience may try to imagine what a whole band presentation would be like. There is no question in this day and time, that Dario has the right combination for traveling and playing gigs around the world.
I think people who like Mark Hollis and the founders of the more ethereal ambient jazz pop would love this CD. I found the bulk of the music unearthly and very cerebral. With the first song you get propelled along, with a true feeling of other things going on around you, while you move forward. With it’s eastern drift, it soothes the soul. The 2nd track has the same low-key way, but is even more delicate, along the lines of Stefano Panunzi and that beautiful style. One can hear similar music in some of the early Japan offshoots like Rain Tree Crow. The one thing I found that stands out as his own stamp is his vocal work. While much is gentle and tender, there are occasional eruptions of passion. Sigur Ros fans will love track 3 ‘Sol’ for it’s off this planet and dual vocal parts (one child like, the other calming adult) echoing with additional soft spoken word. At the end, there is also spoken word by the child and a last bit of laughter by children. It’s very beautiful to say the least. Track 4 is where the Italian version of David Sylvian really shows up. With a classical piano part, and feathery music backdrop with that serene voice, the stops and starts that give that perfect anticipation, it glows and grows with each listen. Right on the back of that, track 5 takes you into another cocoon, but this time has some playful jazz and stretches of ambiance, more cinema, and more introspective music. ‘Fra Noi’ (track 6) has the most contrast with a quasi funk body alternating with a 60's soundtrack feel, including a fluid lead guitar solo along the borders of Steve Hillage. Quite nice! The end section of the song has a more jamming quality than the rest of the entire release, with different looks at the funk, jazz, ambient, and vintage soundtrack styles.
It’s one high quality song after another. Not one weak or even close to dull cut to be found. Lovers of David Sylvian and that ilk will be most pleased with this. Most of the music has a peaceful atmosphere to it but it also has subtle power especially with the bass in songs like ‘Tre Anime’. The distinctions of wispy effects and main instrumental parts are brilliantly arranged. The whole package is wonderful and full of life. Those paths and architectures that Dario used to make this, sure did find their rightful place. This studio recording is super and I only wish Dario could have had his own band to perform when I saw him at the Zero G concert series. It was nice, but not close to the magic that was made on this
recording. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on November 20th, 2012