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St Tropez: Icarus

Initially recorded in 1992, Icarus from St Tropez flies high again thanks to Mellow Records, a label who have in recent times shone quite the spotlight on the works of Ciro Perrino, who many will remember from Italian cult prog masters Celeste. Making up his then new outfit, Perrino brought in his Celeste-mates Giorgio Battaglia on bass and Bat DiMasi on drums, while adding guitarist Alex Magazzino and the enigmatic vocalist Lady Mantide, although many other musicians seemed to flit in and out of the line-up that made this one and only album.

If those who had followed Celeste’s time during 1972 to 1977 (although they did reform in the mid 2010s) had expected Perrino to continue down the path he had previously, they would have been sorely mistaken. Pretty much gone were the Genesis meets PFM of that previous outfit and in its place comes an approach that’s much more space oriented and much more ethereal in execution. Gong fans will probably feel right at home once the more Tropical themes of opening cut “Noccioline, Caramelle, Gelati” (which even my rudimentary Italian can translate to “Nuts, Sweets, Ice Cream”) subside into a place that’s much more sprawling and space-droning. The tracks themselves in the all Italian language booklet are credited as having been written by Ciro Perrino with the ‘help of his band members’ and while that may now be down more to lack of memory of who contributed what, where and when, if Alex Maggazino didn’t have a large say in the direction of the space roaming “Il Laghetto Del Cigno” - and much more besides - then I’d be hugely shocked. Often it’s his ability to bounce the guitars off the synth work from Perrino that takes busy, but focussed ideas and transports them into completely different places, and ones which I’d suggest, would be thoroughly enjoyed by fans of Ozric Tentacles - the two bands having near identical intentions, if individual slants on how to achieve them.

Vocally Lady Mantide may well be something of an acquired taste, her nasally, quite high pitched register distinctive and then some, but to me the manner in which she cuts through the maelstrom suits her surrounds surprisingly well. In this seemingly more free-flow format she and her bandmates sound remarkably natural, intuitively relaxed and enigmatically engaging, although I will admit that it took me a couple of listens to at least begin to break through into the likes of “Luna In Vergine” or “Icarus” itself. That said, the more readily accessible “Bollito Misto”, with its marimba underpinning and fat synth sounds, offers up more instant walkways between tracks, with a real understanding of how to reward the listener for their perseverance resulting in an album that can make you both smile in appreciation and frown in concentration.

A fleeting time in the history of Ciro Perrino, St Tropez seem to have disappeared as quickly as they arrived, with Icarus their only offering. Hence, the inclusion of the bonus cut, which features only the main man himself on all instruments and very capable vocals, is welcome indeed. However, the main event here doesn’t really need any more embellishment to be worth seeking out for not just Celeste/Perrino completists, but also anyone with a penchant for adding a bit of Gong ethos, or Ozric Tentacles outlook to their life.

Track Listing
1. Noccioline, caramelle, gelati

2. Segnale limpido 

3. Il Laghetto del Cigna

4. Nella cascata

5. Bollito misto

6. Icarus 

7. Re del deserto 

8. Verdure saltate 

9. Luna in vergine 

10. Il Lato sconosciuto

Added: April 2nd 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Mellow Productions on bandcamp
Hits: 528
Language: english

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