Salvatore

Tempo

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Salvatore are an enigmatic Norwegian ensemble who, since 1998, have created a sinewy, pulsating, jazzy brand of arty instrumental rock derived from early Tortoise records and the electro-acoustic Motorik of Teutonic brethren Kreidler and To Rococo Rot. On their 2002 release, Tempo, they keep an air of mystery by not listing the instruments played by each bandmember nor including any obvious photos of them, being content with a few grayed-out black-and-white landscapes and interiors. This helps add to an aura of mutability to the package, leaving the music to speak for itself and take on whatever shape the listener envisions. Not surprising the originators of the Chicago school of post-rock are emulated here, since this session was recorded and mixed by Tortoise's John McEntire in his Soma Studios in Chicago, and the band even did a brief European tour with Tortoise. But Salvatore, despite wearing their influences on their sleeve, manage to forge their own identity with this collection of evocative soundscapes. The tracks here are relatively short for a genre that tends toward excess, which leaves them concise and to-the-point, almost disappointingly so, because they set up some exceedingly tight and memorable grooves which could enthrall a listener even if they went on forever. And though they sound like they may have evolved from loose improvisatory jam sessions, the evolved pieces are executed with precision and passion, as opposed to the cold, contrived playing of some of their contemporaries. The opener "Easy" immediately bursts from the speakers with a hypnotic keyboard swirl, pulsing bass, propulsive hi hats and panning backwards-looped guitars and feedback, neatly getting its formula across in under four minutes. "Not Chello!" is another succinct nugget of rhythmic invention, bouncing along with rollicking keyboard, undulating percussion and rimshot snare until the bass lays down the theme, again in just around four minutes. "Rainbo" speeds down the Autobahn with delayed guitars and driving vibes and drums reaching their destination in barely over three minutes. There are a couple more lengthy explorations on the album (at nine+minutes, "Rockefeller 3" spends the majority of its duration floating by on surf guitar and muffled percussion before slowly rising out of the murk to rocking the front and center of the mix), but even these feel compact in their composition, and when the album ends after a mere 42 minutes one wishes there were more. Luckily, for the devoted obscure record-seeker, Salvatore have four more albums to satisfy that craving.

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