Elio e le Storie Tese are the undisputed musical kings of what the Italians call the demenziale style, a subversive combination of the absurd, the grotesque, and parody. Frank Zappa is the mandatory reference, not merely because of the band's irreverent and often explicit lyrics, but because of their astonishing musical facility that enables them to mimic, quote, cut, and paste any musical genre at will. Different from Zappa, of course, is the band's extremely Italian idiosyncrasy, found in their fondness for light Italian pop music of the San Remo festival variety -- at which they even participated a few times, to surprisingly massive acclaim -- as well as in their strong links with the media (especially all those working in comedy). This can easily be seen in the customarily long list of guests culled from the Italian TV, radio, film, and music world, including Claudio Bisio, Irene Grandi, Antonella Ruggiero, Giorgia, Carla Fraccia, and Claudio Baglioni, among others. Studentessi is a typically engaging, superbly accomplished, and occasionally hilarious collection of musical pastiches that run the gamut from symphonic rock to hip-hop, opera to techno, or bossa nova to heavy metal -- sometimes in the same track! Elio e le Storie Tese can speed through a five-movement jazzy suite about satanic messages in black metal music in little more than three minutes, and then move on to a seven-minute epic track about the Congress of Soft Human Organs electing their president (unsurprisingly for this band, genitalia come up winners). Length, however, is the true drawback of this record: irony or parody are usually better when pointed. The twenty-two track Studentessi, instead, offers a bafflingly meandering assortment of musical and lyrical puns that can get a little tiresome. Inevitably, some jokes are funnier than others. The execution, however, is always impeccable -as expected from the seriously talented Elio e le Storie Tese.
AllMusic Review by Mariano Prunes
feat: Luigi Piloni