I’ve had ‘andiamo in giro di notte e ci consumiamo nel fuoco’ in my possession for around a month now and the absence of any prompt review is certainly not down a lack of consistently enjoyable listening. It’s just that I’ve found this wonderfully inventive album somewhat difficult to write about.
First things first: it seems like I’m rather late to the party with Homunculus Res, a Sicilian band who now have 4 albums to their name stretching back to 2013, although the band themselves date back to 2010. They playfully hover somewhere uniquely on the Canterbury spectrum, alternately as quirky as Hatfield and the North, as brazenly harsh as Egg, and as whimsically tuneful as Caravan. Keyboards predominate, with a succession of gloriously dated sounds, and this competes as the dominant force alongside the wistful vocals of Dario D’Alessandro who also is the main songwriter. Other ever presents are the di Giovanni brothers Davide (keyboards) and Daniele (drums). Whilst earlier albums took on board RIO luminaries such as Dave Newhouse and members of Stormy Six, Rascal Reporters and Picchio dal Pozzo, ‘Andiamo’ is a songs-based album, with tracks clocking in at no more than 6 minutes, and extended instrumental interplay mainly limited to later diversions within tracks.
That said, the opener Lucciole per lanterne could almost be a Hatfields outtake, so convoluted are the changes in direction, the crooning vocals, and the instrumental mix which throws in saxophone, Geoff Leigh style, alongside blazing fuzz sounds. But even for the more succinct songs, within each piece there are seemingly mandatory changes of direction, time signatures and ideas, to the extent that the fabled National Health quote “you need 15 legs to dance to us” applies here just as aptly. You’ll need a knowledge of Italian to disseminate the lyrics, but an almost mediaeval feel to some of the tracks is presumably rooted (and certainly reflected) in the band’s name, a term describing the transparent representation of a fully formed human within the womb, incidentally associated with the alchemist Paracelsus (and there’s another National Health reference for you!)
Music-wise, it’s all infuriatingly catchy with more than a hint of the familiar: ‘Supermercato’ dons a hat to ‘Lullabye Letter’ before heading off to full-on pastoral baroque noodlings reminiscent of ‘Girl on a Swing’ or the Divine Comedy, whilst ‘La Luccicanza’ serenades the listener dreamily, eventually endearingly quoting ‘Hey Jude’. ‘In Girum’ appears to invite the listener on board a relatively innocent fairground ride until keyboards are steadily destabilized both in terms of timekeeping and sonics. Elsewhere the keyboards are more hardhitting, with the bass grumblings of Tetraktys closer to nouveau-Canterbury band The Boot Lagoon.
The songwriting highlight is the wide-eyed inquisitive whatsitallaboutery of ‘La Spia’ with all its sixties’ optimism, but if there’s some crossover here with Caravan’s utopian 60s vibe, a paean to a simpler life, Homunculus Res inhabit a slightly warped parallel universe – you’d be forgiven for thinking that the drivers of the project are all as mad as a box of frogs. But the bottom line is that it’s consistently interesting, innovative and above all, catchy – wander into any room in the Facelift abode at present and you’ll find a small army of Faceliftlings humming a snatched segment from this fabulous album. Whether the influences here are rooted in the 16th century or the 1960s, this is essential listening for 2020.
By the album digitally at https://homunculusres.bandcamp.com/
Physical copies are available here: