Kinesis, the 2007 debut album by Italian quartet Accordo dei Contrari, is a strong opening salvo by a band whose stylistic flourishes demand attention: no fading into the background for this outfit, thank you. Right out of the gate, keyboardist Giovanni Parmeggiani, guitarist Marco Marzo, bassist Daniele Piccinini, and drummer Cristian Franchi hit the listener with an almost aggressive approach to proggy jazz-rock. Although also capable of subtlety, as in some truly lovely quieter moments during a track like “Gondwana,” the bandmembers are masters of tension and the dramatic buildup, with electric guitar and keyboard ostinatos over the rock-solid rhythm section's odd-metered time signatures -- and then, the kicker: massive power chord progressions blasting from out of nowhere on organ and/or distorted guitar, proving this is a jazz-rock band that knows the value of a hook. Nowhere does this come together better than on opening track “Lester” (after Lester Bangs, not Lester Young, Lester Bowie, or any other iconic jazz Lester), which uses those power chords (after a nice soprano sax break from guest Giorgio Trefiletti) as the bridge to a driving, jagged melodic line that rises and falls through several crescendos in a genuinely thrilling finale. Other tracks on Kinesis might come close to “Lester,” but not quite. Parmeggiani and Marzo are effective soloists throughout, while guest violinist Fabio Berti adds a Jerry Goodman Mahavishnu-esque flavor to the thematic portions of the multi-sectioned “Meghiste Kinesis” (over a vamp in 7/8) and “Gondwana,” as well as second-tier album highlight “ScalaQuadro” (a track that could’ve been written by Karl Jenkins circa Soft Machine’s Bundles and proves the right band can truly rock out in 10/8 and 11/8). “Anexelenkton” ends with more twisted rhythms in a finale demonstrating what the core quartet can accomplish without the presence of guest musicians, and the concluding “OM” shows the band at its most freewheeling, with Parmeggiani shining on both acoustic piano and his array of electric keys. And so Kinesis is quite impressive overall -- that is, if you can get past the opening “Lester,” which invites repeated listenings before you move on even as far as track two.
by Dave Lynch
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