Bellini - The Precious Prize of Gravity
Richard Wink 15/06/2009
Pretty much every album associated with Steve Albini is fantastic, so The Precious Prize of Gravity comes with a guaranteed seal of approval. Albini is an old friend of Bellini and has produced previous releases Snowing Sun and Small Stones. For those of you unfamiliar with Bellini, the band is made up of former members of Uzeda, Girls Against Boys and Don Caballero.
Though this is an album from a collective of weather beaten veterans, there is a brazen energy throughout; the exciting mix of clatter scratch guitar work is reminiscent of The Jesus Lizard combined with Giovanna Cacciola's semi-spoken vocals that could be described as PJ Harvey singing a Slint song forms a righteous blend.
After a stuttering opening the album picks up with 'Daughter Leaving' a cocktail of rolling rhythms and jerky stop / start agitation. I think it takes a little while to get used to the sonic bombardment, this album is a puzzle and the reward comes with repeated listening. Cacciola opens up her cords on 'Susie', her vocals desperate amongst the frantic fretwork.
What works is that these songs are unstructured, the fervour and free form of 'The Man Who Lost His Wings' gyrates mesmerically. 'The Thin Line' is just as manic as Vaslav Nijinsky's Diary entries; the ghostly arrival of the surviving members of Silkworm is a genuine hair- standing-on-the-back-of-your-neck moment. Closing in a melancholic fluster 'A Deep Wound' is reflective, pausing to take stock of things. The album is a morose meditation on mortality, though the heavy clouds of gloom are not suffocating.
In many ways The Precious Prize of Gravity is an album you will appreciate rather then enjoy. Of course this sounds like a strange thing to say, but as far as being a piece of art (if one is to consider music as an art form), this is an album to cherish and admire, a high point that Bellini will do well to equal, let alone improve upon.