Out of Control (2021)
7D Media/Third Star Records
Not a novice. This is the first thought that arises when approaching Marco Mattei‘s debut album: Out of Control.
The Magritte-like cover, very deep and not at all banal, is welcome. Then, before listening, it is time to read the names of the musicians who collaborated on the album to confirm the initial thought. Dave Bond, Matthew Brown, Felix Brandt, Barak Seguin, Richard Farrell (vocals), Jerry Marotta, Pat Mastelotto, Chad Wackerman, Clive Deamer, Matt Crain, Gianni Pierannunzio, Salvatore Mennella, Matilde Mattei (drums and percussion), Tony Levin, Fabio Trentini, Gabriele Bibbi Ferrari (bass), Duilio Galioto (synths, Moog, Wurlitzer, piano, Mellotron), Paolo Gianfrate (keyboards), Dave Bond (mandolin), Marco Planells (sitar), Paul Johnson (flute and whistle), Diederik van den Brandt: (pedal steel), Rob Wakefield (violin), Max Rosati (lead electric guitar), Mauro Munzi (reverse piano) and, obviously Marco Mattei (electric and acoustic guitars, guitar loops, resonator, bouzouki, electric bass, bowed electric bass, vocals, shaker, electronic and acoustic percussion, samples and programming).
And finally, listening. Mattei unveils his most intimate, most sincere and personal ‘playlist’, a series of tracks that are conceptually linked (the lyrics focus on things we can’t control, such as the place and time we were born, the colour of our skin or the people we meet in our lives) but which range across genres, denoting an enviable knowledge of and passion for music. In Out of Control we find songs that move between folk and Steven Wilson sounds, between hard rock/metal and country, through oriental and Mediterranean melodies, acoustic and, of course, prog rock. A pleasant kaleidoscope of images and sensations made so by the superb team of musicians already mentioned. And the choice of entrusting the vocal parts to different performers is also a winning one. Different souls, different attitudes, but a very high and “centred” performance.
Very “polite” starts Would I Be Me, with its slow rhythm and delicate touches of mandolin (played by Dave Bond) and guitar, and that folkish side that gets more and more prominent with Bond’s warm singing. If I had dark skin – would I be me / If I was a king – would I be me / If I was born in ’43 – would I be me / If I was a girl – would I be me / If I could not stand – would I be me / If I was born far away – would I be me / When you judge, when you choose / When you win, when you lose / Think of what could have been / Think would I be me […]. And when Marco Planells’ sitar comes in, the atmosphere shifts a little to the Orient, while in the background Marotta’s drums and Levin’s bass start to take the lead. And then it all flows pleasantly with an enchanting mixture bordering on psychedelia.
[…] I don’t look the same / You don’t look the same / We cannot move on / I cannot step back / That’s what we became / A picture in a frame […]. Picture in a Frame is a very lively track, initially played on the rhythmic irregularities of Mastelotto and Levin, the guitar flicks and the filtered voice of Mattei. And then everything opens up, gliding towards Wilsonian territories. What follows is a no-holds-barred battle among the main sonic protagonists, before Brown returns to the scene. Mastelotto and Levin’s massive performance is worth highlighting. A guarantee.
More Intense. And after Pat Mastelotto’s outburst, the drums “rest” with Clive Deamer’s relaxed pace, giving time to a fiery, enveloping episode, that sounds a bit Phil Collins-like, to show all its naturalness and harmony.
Tender is I’ll Be Born in its entirety, a long caress of acoustic guitar (Mattei), voice (Felix Brandt) and flute (Paul Johnson). All magically enchanted. […] I’ll be born every time you’ll be with me […].
It is the voice of little Arianna Mattei that greets us in Lullaby for You. Then Brandt’s singing and the whole group of musicians accompanying her in this episode launch into something very exotic, Hawaiian, almost continuing the sweet melody of the previous track but giving it a different interpretation.
With completely different characteristics comes Anymore. After so much delicacy, here’s an unsettling track, Mattei shoots an electrifying, granitic song in our faces, on the edge of Deep Purple/Judas Priest style hard rock/metal. Barak Seguin’s voice is acrobatic and well suited to the context. Matt Crain’s great “speed” work on drums and Marco Mattei‘s furious sound on guitars must be underlined.
It is Mattei‘s country guitar that emits the first wails of Tomorrow, with Gianni Pierannunzio’s drums and Matilde Mattei’s shaker touch soon joining in, taking everything into the folds of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Then everything lights up and a slight Mediterranean patina adds to the picture. But that’s not enough, there’s also some good distorted rock to add layer upon layer (the scorching solo by the host).
Space the first notes of Void, before everything changes drastically thanks to the dense guitar and rhythm work and, at last, to Richard Farrell’s warm voice. Although the pace is not fast, there is a certain underlying dynamism, well supported by the keyboard undergrowth, with peaks like ifsound. The elegant, enveloping “openings” are interesting. And in the last minutes, Mattei and his “men” go crazy giving vent to all their vital charge, very seventies. […] The more the things change, the more they stay the same […].
The final outburst of Void flows into the caressing and romantic On Your Side. Dave Bond’s voice is pure velvet laid on a very soft carpet (despite the clearly perceptible touches of drums). And the poetry does not cease throughout the ninth episode of Out of Control, flowing away lightly, with a moment of tension at the end.
After Tomorrow is a brief, orientalising splinter entrusted to Mattei‘s enchanting bouzouki.
The sound crescendo driven by Jerry Marotta at the opening of Hidden Gems is intense. And when you’re sure you’re about to be swept away at any moment, the situation crystallises and you remain suspended in an ethereal world where the drum skins continue to beat tirelessly and the electronics and guitars remain floating above your head.
Gone. A little bit bluesy and a little bit Gilmourian, Marco Mattei‘s guitar welcomes us, while the rhythmic background holds back, leaving the scene completely to his long solo, to his long farewell. His heartfelt thanks.