CARLO NOGO - Patchwork

Carlo Nogo - Patchwork

10 songs
30:48 minutes
***** ***
(self-released)

Years ago I read Irwin Chusidís Songs In The Key Of Z, a book containing essays about true outsider musicians. Ever since, I have been hooked on the truly strange, because itís the least expected which always leaves you with the highest satisfaction. Calling Carlo Nogo an outsider artist might be a little far-fetched, and yet how often do you find artists that keep such a low profile. When I googled his name today, I only got two hits, both of them unrelated to him, and one of these two being a pizza place in China!

As a matter of fact, Carlo is no longer an unknown force in the Luxembourgish music scene, as he started as a guitarist simultaneously in two bands in 2006. The now defunct Yegussa were an instrumental psychedelic punk rock trio, and the still existing Nogo Stunts play experimental rock. I have to admit that both bands were never among my personal favourites, which is why I was not really looking that much forward to Patchwork. But as it turned out, Carlo seems to be at his best when he is all by himself.

Patchwork contains ten songs, played on electric guitar, with the bass and drums mostly being programmed. The latter may give cause of concern, but donít worry, the programming is very discreet and organic, allowing the guitar to shine at its brightest. The idea of the album is to highlights different genres, with influences ranging from the late Sixties to the current age. The opener Polarlicht, also my personal highlight on the album, is a perfect example of how to combine melancholic post rock with slighty trippy krautrock. The production is excellent on this track, and the guitarís dynamic range, from mellow undistorted to more aggressive parts, feels sublime. The song also comes with a great melodic setup so that you donít miss the vocals at all. The following Unstraight Edge is a somewhat punk rocking track that could probably be used as a soundtrack for skate videos. Africans feels slightly humorous, with the beginning consisting of a wobbly guitar track, as if a cassette tape had been lying on a heater, before the guitar turns quite Caribbean, giving the track a funny and sunny orientation. Nanuq is a short, angular rocker, before Le bon et le mauvais Hard Rock doesnít offer any hard rock at all, but rather a journey into Nineties indie rock.

The albumís second half begins with the creepy Remembering Orland, basically a one-minute short laugh track that leads us into more science fictional territory. Le nouvel ‚ge kobaÔen is a nod to the godfathers of zeuhl, and while the rhythmic complexity is somewhat mathy/proggy, thatís already where the parallels to Magma end. Watching Atomic Cyborg at 21h00 has certain jazzy tendencies, before Pragmatism/Transcendence has a definite kraut rock feeling, especially its latter half. Muad Dib Wants To Tame A Land is at five minutes the longest track on Patchwork and transports us into the universe of Frank Herbertís Dune.

The most surprising thing about Patchwork is how focused and song-oriented Carlo Nogo is working here. In his bands, the music always feels freer and more unpredictable, which is also good for some occasions, but in the end it is really satisfying to see that he can sit down, concentrate and come up with songs that please due to their excellent songwriting. If you want a copy of the album, youíll have to email carlo.phaser90 at gmail dot com for your copy. The production may be a little uneven during some tracks, but all in all this turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.

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