Real Estate/Fake Inverno
(2018 – self release/distributed by Zillion Watt Records – ITALY)
I feel like the luckiest person alive when I get possession of recordings like this. Simply one of the absolute best releases of 2018, and that is keeping company with a dozen or more premium monumental albums sent to me this year. From Rome, Italy, a sprawling double disc set that lays down a large fluffy blanket in a sunny meadow towards the end of summer (estate in Italian), and spends the next months into winter (inverno in Italian), making music inspired by the long visit. A pure bliss of 76 minutes (including the download only bonus track ‘Blackducks on Parade’).
Many, but not near enough, people know who multi-talented, all powerful Emanuele Sterbini and his partner Dominique D’Avanzo (who wrote 90% of the lyrics on this release) are. Those fortunate who do, probably own all the previous Sterbus albums. If not, you owe yourself a few gifts. Start with this double delicious CD split into two titles. ‘Real Estate’ (CD1) with 8 songs, and ‘Fake Inverno’ (CD2) also with 8 tracks, all taking the high dive, bouncing off the board, making a splash into the wonderland of Cardiacs/Spratleys Japs (and related offshoots), tinged with essence of Canterbury, Zappa, Supersister, touches of grunge, heapings of the more elite punk, and even the ever so campy but lovable Gruppo Sportivo, complete with the male/female vocals. However, the bulk of the frankincense aroma lush choral vocal lines are for Cardiacs fans, all the way to the bottom of the black hole of supreme musical acts.
The music pours down like a mixture of organic honey and techno colored acid rain. And that is just disc one. Disc two ‘Fake Inverno’ begins in heaven, amongst the angels choir. Then the ‘Little Miss Queen of Light’ plunges into a driven fast tempo sweet pop appetizer made of secret ingredients only Sterbus knows. Guest musicians are a die for cream of the crop list like Bob Leith on drums for entire album (from Cardiacs fame). The entire cast of artists are Emanuele Sterbini – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass, Axoloti, Melodica, Strings, Synth, Shaker, Digital Hand-Claps); Dominique D’Avanzo – Vocals, Clarinet, Flute (cleaned and distorted); Bob Leith – Drums, Lead vocals (Bonus track), “Bollocks!” (Shine A Light) ; Sauro Berti – Bass Clarinet; Carlo Schneider – Alto Sax; Riccardo Piergiovanni – Piano, Mellotron, Strings, Marimba, Electric Piano, Organ; Francesco Grammatico – Trumpet, Piano, Axoloti, Backing Vocals, Slide Guitar, Guitar Arpeggio, Synth; Noel C. Storey – Harpsichord, Piano, Reg; Charlie Cawood – Sitar, 12-string Acoustic Guitar, Electric Zigzag Guitar; Elisa Raho – Celtic Harp; Andrea Salvi – Flute Solo; Claudio Cavallaro – Clarinet; Adrian Beckwith – Piano, Jurgen Verfaillie – Stunt Guitar Epic Solo; Johnny Dal Basso – Harmonica Solo, Matteo Bertolini – Glockenspiel; Brenda Gaga – Tambourine, Synth Sweep, Shaker, Triangle, Bongos, Vibraslap; Oslo Port – Finger Snaps, Birds Chirping; Hannah Maher – Xerxes; David Sheridon – Blues Guitar Intro, Debz Joy – Lead Vocals ((Maybe I’m a) Lioness); Emanuele Binelli – Vocals; Moira Ceccaroli – Backing Vocals; Nick Prol – Backing Vocals; and Francesco Chini – Backing Vocals. WHEW!!!!
The select crew all help the magic sparks keep the fire red hot on this unforgettable project. True enough there is a tremendous dose of Cardiacs influence, but with so many different instruments added at times, like celtic harp, harmonica, sax, clarinet, mellotron, backing sitar (thanks to Charlie Cawood) and plenty more, you also get a hand shake of trippy dimensions and possibilities that once were only scribbles on a napkin. In the end, ‘Real Estate/Fake Inverno’ has the weight of a lost Beatles/Cardiacs archive, that finally comes to light, then was polished and preened by Sterbus. You do want to get the 2 CD triple fold out digipak, with booklet and great art, then download the bonus track. Special and supreme. MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Reviewed by Lee Henderson 11 – 3 – 2018