I admit to being fairly new to the music of Sardinian guitarist Paolo Angeli but I could hardly call this an introduction seeing as his discography stretches back to 1995. Calling him a guitarist sounds somehow limiting, as upon closer inspection of that Sardinian guitar he can be seen holding reveals a Heath Robinson affair beyond belief – it’s unclassifiable – a bit like his music.
It was made by Francesco Concas in collaboration with Romano Scanferla and can best be described as a hybrid of a guitar, cello and drums. At the bridge of the guitar are a series of intricate hammers that are operated by six foot pedals (like a drum) which allow Paolo to play rhythmic structures and complex bass melodies. As well as the typical strings you’d expect to find on a standard guitar there are another set of strings running vertically across the sound hole to make a small harp. These 8 strings can be adjusted and used in open tunings with a mechanical hand and moveable bridge. Sat underneath these in the sound hole are propellers which generate a drone using variable speeds. It doesn’t end there. Attached to the body is a Mollofono, what Paolo calls the poor punk part – “4 sitar strings and couple of recycled springs are used for the noise and percussive sessions and for concrete sounds.”
Amazing as this all sounds, it’s only amazing in the hands of the right musician and this was purpose-built to create Paolo’s one-man-band. Paolo’s music is described as “free jazz, folk noise and minimal pop”, but like any description, this doesn’t really do it the justice it deserves. His latest album Talea, released earlier this year, features live recordings captured during 2015/16 at concerts from around the world – “a testimony of beyond 60 concerts…it is human, instinctive, immediate and imperfect like all lives. The final playlist restitutes to the listening its narrative sense, the often-without-pause-between a piece and the next that characterizes my concerts.”
A live setting lends itself more to his music as there are elements of improvisation in his performances. He has collaborated with the likes of Pat Metheny, Fred Frith and Takumi Fukushima – he’s at the top of his game as you can hear on this new release…even if it is his very own.
Talea is out now and available via Bandcamp here: https://angelimanucheproductions.bandcamp.com/album/talea