A few weeks ago, It was a sticky and boiling hot day in June and I was coming home for one of my afternoon walks. And after I finished my walk, I went to the mailbox outside and all of a sudden, I received a package from Italy for another review. Now I’ve received packages in different parts of the States and in Europe for albums to review, mind you. But this one took me by surprise.
It was a band called, Armonite. Now again mind you, I didn’t know much about their music. But I listened to one of their samples on their bandcamp website and just completely hooked from the drumming and electric violin eccentrics that took me to different levels. Their album The Sun Is New Each Day was like an opening flower to various locations in different universes.
When I looked at the back cover it was the who’s who. Produced by Paul Reeve, who worked on Muse’s debut album, Showbiz in 1999. It considers Paolo Fosso on Keyboards, Jacopo Bigi on Electric Violin, Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) on Bass Guitar, and Jasper Barendregt on Drums. Armonite formed in 1996 and released their debut album in 1999 on the Mellow Records label entitled, Inuit. And then they didn’t release another one since.
Until now. Last year, they released their second album after a long hiatus. And with nine tracks, and recorded at PFL Studio in Pavia, Italy along with the engineering and mixing by Paul himself at Cornwall and mastered by Geoff Pesche (The Divine Comedy, New Order, Mike Oldfield, and Dire Straits) at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London with an amazing artwork done by AquaSixio (Cyril Rolando) that has the waves rolling out a basketball court, car, soccer ball, guitar, etc.
You can imagine what the ensemble have brought in. The middle-eastern sitar, Indian percussion and violin sections on Sandstorm which deals with the living energy located in Marrakech, Morocco. There is the electronic vibrations thanks to the synths and intense time-changes in the last couple of seconds of the composition before Bigi kicks it off to an abrupt end.
The opening yet exhilarating track, Suitcase War which deals with workaholics working from 9 to 5 through the rest of the week through a lot of how their lives have been rejected to this situation. Like a cross between Pure Reason Revolution, Frank Zappa, Gentle Giant, and Premiata Forneria Marconi, The climatic riffs between guitar, keyboards, and drums set the fueling scales to a flaming time-signature tempo to get everything ready.
But I love they switch from that to the ‘80s synths and the New-Wave textures they took me by surprise. From the protest against gambling addictions in a nightmarish eerie quality thanks to Jacopo’s improvisations in spooky ascending tones on Connect Four to the wonders of going into putting a token inside a video arcade and travelling to the styles of Devo’s early ‘80s beginnings thanks to Anders “Goto80” Carlsson’s 8-bit sounds of the NES will close your eyes and imagine it’s 1986 all over again for the Insert Coin.
It shows that Armonite can go beyond the Progressive levels and into that era where it was fun and takes you on a scrapbook trip down memory lane while heading towards into the stars and going into different planets with a classical-electronic rock voyages to discover the exploration of space and technology of our Satellites.
Colin’s heavier fuzz-tone bass riffs, gives him a chance to come up-and-front. On Die Grauen Herren which deals with the Men in Grey based on Michael Ende’s Novel, Momo. Edwin himself shows more on where his bass comes to the center stage. He, Jacopo, and Jasper, followed by Paolo’s concerto-esque piano exercise, applies to more of the changes throughout the composition as they continue to paddle before ending with the ticking clock.
This is not your typical progressive rock album, with amazing twists and turns throughout the entire album, that show Armonite are doing a fantastic job to give listeners and surprising opportunity to breathe and take an adventure on where they will head into next. Is it a great album? No. But it shows a return to go through Avant-Garde, Electronic, ‘80s synths, and all in all, an appreciable album.