berserk |ber’zerk; -?’serk| – adjective
frenzied, raving, wild, out of control, amok, on the rampage, frantic, crazy, raging, insane, out of one’s mind, hysterical, mad, crazed, maniacal, manic; informal–bananas, bonkers, nuts, loco.
Berserk! is the name of a new collective band formed by Italian vocalist-multi-instrumentalist-sonic provocateur Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari (aka LEF) and Italian bassist-composer Lorenzo Feliciati. Later they are joined by famous Italian trombonist Gianluca Petrella, pianist and keyboard player Jamie Saft (Metallic Taste Of Blood, John Zorn), Italian sax legend Sandro Satta, Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset (Nils Petter Molvaer), drummer Pat Mastelotto (XTC, King Crimson, Stickmen), Italian pianist Fabrizio Puglisi, and Italian drum-masters Cristiano Calcagnile and Simone Cavina (Junkfood).
The music of Berserk! is hard to categorize as it “stretches between jazz-rock, free jazz, crooning, rock and progressive-rock and lush cinematic arrangements to generate a musical soundscape wholly unheard of” just as the press release expresses. It seems that the musicians aim at exploring unknown musical territories collectively and do not care about the labels as the music itself is the end. Therefore, it is almost like a manifesto as they themselves stated.
Then let the journey into the psychedelic world of these master musicians begin!
The opener “Macabre Dance” starts with funky bass lines of Feliciati with the addition of Fornasari’s haunting vocals accompanied by the opera-like chorus in the background. The electronic trombone work by Petrella is so elusive throughout the song while Fornasari’s guitar almost wails in this dark atmosphere. With the solemn organ and the attenuated beats complete the foggy scene and comes to an end with Fornasari’s whistles and whispers.
“Fetal Claustrophobia”, one of my favourites in the album, opens with Saft’s piano solo in a contemporary classical music manner, followed by an eerie atmosphere. Suddenly the song evolves into a total groove with jungle-like rhythms, Fornasari’s explosive guitar riffs and the catchy ambient tunes of the saxophone and trombone together. “Hey! I can not come back!” roars Fornasari in a dark manner while Feliciati’s electric bass riffs make an immense foundation. Then come the massive blasts from Petrella’s trombone and Saft’s rocking melodies accompanying Mastelotto’s rhythmical thunder-like beats. After all this turmoil, the song comes to an end with Fornasari’s vocals only followed by a blast of improvisation with Saft saying the last word. All these features definitely provoke a grinding turmoil where one cannot help feeling a raw sensation and experiencing a kind of elevation. This song is pure progressive rock topped with jazz and electronic elements, which is a pleasure to listen.
“Blow” is like a transition, or it can even be referred as a corridor, from “Fetal Claustrophobia” to “Not Dead”. The song features a mini conversation between Feliciati’s bass and Satta’s alto sax, which you can not help feeling you want to become a part of it.
The dark ambience of trip-hop-sense “Not Dead” is woven with Fornasari’s swings between brutal and enigmatic vocals and Feliciati’s thrilling bass lines as if they were protesting against death. The trombone solo softens the song with its beautiful tune, which is later accompanied by the almost doom operatic chorus and makes you feel the blood running in your veins while you are caught up in a storm. The song comes to an end with a soft groove and the alto sax tunes accepting the truth: “Surprise! I’m not dead”.
“Clairvoyance” is a delicate free-jazz song driven by the improvisation spirit. Drums, bass and the brass hang out freely and conversing with each other at the beginning as if they were floating in space and soon followed by a steady rhythm and profound bass lines. Petrella’s trombone work is worth listening with the accompanying beats by Calcagnile going wilder and wilder through the end of the song.
“First” is a rock ballad that opens with a somber piano by Puglisi and the varied sound effects which come in and out sets a psychedelic and melancholy scene. Fornasari’s emotional singing marks the song along with Feliciati’s profound and uplifting distortion-topped solos and chords. The piano solo is a melodic addition to the minor mood of the song while maintaining the delicate ambience.
“Dream Made of Wind” is meditative with a long breathy trombone by Petrella on a wide array of soundscape, usually echoing throughout the song and Aarset’s contribution completes this psychedelic world.
“Wait Until Dark” is another ballad of the album with Fornasari’s expressive melodic vocals and the soft piano lines. The acapella-like chorus goes nicely with the gloomy mood of the song. Feliciati’s far-away sounding distorted guitar and the electric bass are in line with the song’s rock appeal with such psychedelic notes and chords. And the almost sudden finish signals that the darkness has arrived.
“Latent Prints” features Satta’s blazing alto sax that flies between high and low pitches. The shrilling and sometimes blasting guitar is accompanied by Fornasari’s doom vocals. Satta’s sax notes also include some calming oriental motifs whereas the other members are turning everything upside down. Everything seems to melt and be recreated again in this song as there is such an avant-garde fashion throughout, which makes it like the film Matrix.
Aarset’s sonic blitz highlights “Dream Made Of Water” along with Fornasari’s enigmatic vocals in the foreground again, but this time with a more heavy metal and opera twist. The psychedelic atmosphere can definitely make you feel like you are floating on foggy river at night, setting out an exploration to the source of this sound and feeling that you are coming to an end.
Berserk! is an adventurous and bold album with its wide urban sonic palette and blend of genres from trip hop, avant-garde jazz to rock and heavy metal, which reveals the open-minded musical perspective of its members. It is not easy to define the sound of Berserk! as it is raw, complex and unpredictable. It is a journey into the heavily foggy, dark but futuristic forest where the journey is more important than the end itself as it is much better to experience the transitions from one remarkable ambience to an ethereal one. The energy absorbed in the album is leashed out when you start listening to it, so be cautious as “something beautifully wild” is there to get you!
The album is on sale on Rare Noise Records website.