La Blama Sparozzi


(LP - Schneeball #SCHNEEBALL 1028)

Review by Thom Jurek

This sprawling double album is the last Embryo title to feature the great guitarist Roman Bunka. Here, as on many of the band's other recordings, the basis sextet led by Christian Burchard is augmented by dozens of other musicians to varying effect. For starters, Embryo's live recordings are always their best. That is testified to here, as well, since the album was recorded in studios all over Europe, and features a live performance from Munich. It's the sprawl that testifies simultaneously to this album's greatest strength and weakness. While Embryo's musical restlessness counts for great improvised music, particularly in concert settings, the band's studio offerings sometimes lack focus, and that is certainly the case here. There are few long pieces on these two CDs, with 22 tracks in all. Taken as a whole, it would be unfair to say that these are Embryo's "pop" recordings; it is not inaccurate to say that they are consciously more accessible than on any of their other outings. This band has never aspired to relevance in terms of pop culture, before or after these sessions. The vocal tracks here fall flat and are uninspiring, while the music itself is brilliant and often visionary. This is a mixed bag to be sure, but a far from uninteresting one.