It’s so easy to have preconceptions about Italy. As I sit here in a decidedly damp and grey Britain I can turn my thoughts to a country full of beautiful scenery such as the Amalfi coast and Tuscany, impressive cities such as Rome and Venice, fantastic food and wine, stunning women…and sleazy arse pinching blokes. Sure they have the Mafia but even they’ve been glammed up by Hollywood. These five Romans show us that a darker psychosis does exist behind the veneer.
Lento are an instrumental group featuring no less than three guitarists. That’s pretty much where any similarities to party rocking rednecks Lynyrd Skynyrd ends however. “Earthen” is a schizophrenic record, the band very much operating on two separate levels. On the one hand they churn out a mightily impressive and heavy grind and on the other hand droning ambient pieces of electronica. “Hadrons”, “Need” and “Earth” all display the band’s more traditional guitar based approach. I’ve heard the word “prog” bandied around about these guys, that’s just a lazy term used to describe a band that don’t fit the norm and approach music from a left-field perspective. Lento don’t try to blind us with a million dizzying time changes, mind boggling rhythms or try to cram a million notes into each bar. The music here has far greater space and depth, each riff is allowed to evolve organically wringing every ounce of soul from so few notes. This is very much music from the heart as opposed to the brain and so often here it feels as though the band are zoning out on the vibes, feeling the rolling rhythms and walls of guitar noise as opposed to thinking about them too much. Traditional song structures are out of the window, a benefit of the instrumental format, as the band take each song on a journey.
Lento’s other face is shown on “Subterrestrial”, “Emersions of the Islands” and “Leave”, each one being an ambient soundscape built on an underlying drone and built up with freeform, almost imperceptible melodies. The effect is highly cinematic. Lay back and close your eyes and it’s possible to visualise this as the soundtrack to some kind of post apocalyptic landscape. Never having seen the band live I’m not sure how these tracks would work on stage without the benefit of some appropriate visual back-up but on record, with the lights down low the effect can be hypnotic and mesmerising.
For me the stand out track is “Currents”, the only song here that really ties together both strands of the band’s sound. Built on a simple, single note chugging riff which locks in with a heavy, flowing drum groove the abstract and formless melodies which float over the foundations, lift this song to another level. It’s hard to describe the effect of this track. Have you ever stood on a beach on a windy day? At face value it looks like a beach but closer inspections will show the sand dancing around in random patterns as it’s lifted by the wind yet the foundations of the beach remain firm. This really is the best way I can describe this track and despite its deceptively simple basis it never becomes tired or outstays its welcome.
Lento are another in a new breed of band, like Sheffield’s Rachmanite, experimenting with the traditional formats of heavy rock music to stretch out and create something new, this is as close as the comparisons with prog get. This isn’t the twee psychedelia of early Pink Floyd, this is psycho-delia for a generation weaned on Godflesh, Electric Wizard, Brian Eno and My Bloody Valentine. This won’t appeal to the beer chugging party metal crowd but for anyone who wants to open up and stretch their musical boundaries this is well worth some further investigation…not so much a pinch on the arse, more a feather coated boot up it!!!
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall