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Imaginaria Review

by Don Snowden

Imaginaria is Almamegretta's best album since their pre-Lingo period and ranks with Sanacore 1995 and Indubb as one of their best ever. The Italian quartet here has broadened and fleshed out their sound with other dancefloor rhythms incorporated back into the dub sound-science format that likewise flavors full melody lines rather than fragmentary wisps. The best example may be "Crazy Days & Nights," even though it's not a great track; it's sung in English, but sounds like a natural part of the group aesthetic at this point, not an obvious attempt to rope in a different audience à la Lingo. The opening title track fades in like "Natural Mystic" and the three-chord descending piano hook is pretty magnetic. "Catene" is the first sign of the four-on-the-floor bass drum groove that figures prominently in the music here, while a violin and Rais' voice go off on an Arabic tangent. The serious bass throb and distorted bubbles of keyboard noise give "Fa Ammore Cu' Mme" a Transglobal Underground/Bill Laswell/On-U Sound feel before a brief mid-song breakdown with a house diva wailing in space. A very spacy dub opening to "E Guagliune D'a Sole" is followed by guitar blasts and stabbing early-Roxy Music electric piano before beefy arena rock drums and heavy guitar riff rock takes over. But there are several effective mood-changers -- the soothing electric piano washes on "N'ata Vota," the heavy funk flavor of "Caña," or the atmospheric top and blasting bass bottom on "Mergellina." "Rubayyat" is lush with a prominent acoustic guitar, while "Pa'Chango" is a dancefloor raver, heavy on the four-on-the-floor and flavored with lots of percussion and sound science effects that sustain interest over 11 minutes. Imaginaria finds Almamegretta arriving at that happy median where their old dub strengths and new melodic and rhythmic interests reach an appealing creative balance.

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