Review: Palmer Generator ‘Ventre’

The name Palmer Generator, according to guitarist Uncle Tommaso, originated as a joke. With the surname Palmieri in mind, the idea of naming the band ‘Palmieri’s Generator’ emerged humorously, without much contemplation. Over time, the name stuck and endured. In fact, this Italian instrumental experimental post-rock trio, formed in 2010 in the small town of Jesi within the Marche region’s Ancona province, is a genuine family endeavour.

Palmer Generator 'Ventre' Artwork
Palmer Generator ‘Ventre’ Artwork

The lineup consists of Uncle Tommaso, brother Michele on bass, and his son Mattia on drums, who joined the band at the tender age of 14. Uncle Tommaso reflects, ‘We don’t really know’ when asked about other bands with three family members, ‘and we are not aware of other bands who have three members of the same family unit in their lineup’.

While the exact family configuration might be rare, variations do exist. The remarkable aspect of this distinctive family unit is their ability to collaboratively craft music in perfect harmony, generating magical moments both within the studio and during the composition phase. Despite occasional disagreements, they manage to reconcile differences in a typical Italian fraternal manner.

The band’s debut album, Shapes, released in 2014, garnered positive reviews from music critics. Comprising five tracks, it delivers an experimental cosmic sound interwoven with heavy post-rock elements akin to the fusion of Explosions in the Sky and Russian Circles. Their second release, Discipline, in 2016, departs from the ‘ambient’ sound, delving headlong into pulsating art rock sonorities imbued with fuzzy textures. In 2018, their third album, Nature, unveils a darker and more sensitive experimental soundscape that offers an alternative lens through which to perceive nature via their music. Think of it as a gradual ‘tarantella’ presented in four movements.

In 2020, they collaborated with The Great Saunites, a three-piece experimental jazz post-rock band from Lodi, Milan, releasing a split album titled PGTGS. This release combines Palmer Generator‘s motorik art post-rock with the captivating Third Ear Band experimentalism released by The Great Saunites, creating a juxtaposition of heavenly and intense sonic experiences. Three years after their previous full-length release, Nature, the Palmieri family returns with their follow-up, the mature and well-defined Ventre (Belly), released through their independent Bloody Sound label.

Ventre resonates with the natural rumblings rendered into post-rock experimentalism…

Similar to its predecessor, the album features four movements: Ventre I – IV. The sonic landscape encapsulated within Ventre resonates with the natural rumblings rendered into post-rock experimentalism of the most visceral nature, sweeping away the restlessness of modern life. Failing to acknowledge Palmer Generator as one of the most introspective/extroverted experimental post-rock bands of the last decade would be an oversight. In the realm constructed by the Palmieri family, one engages in a game of catch-up, navigating a soundscape meticulously devised to escape the dissipation prevalent in contemporary society.

While their influences, including June of ’44, Slint with hypnotic cosmic psychedelia reminiscent of Can, Neu!, and Shellac’s robust art rock energy, play a role, their sound is sculpted in a distinct realm where noise intertwines with their internal restlessness, giving rise to a profound and intense sonic intimacy that brings Cream to mind on an acid trip. Traversing the various tribulations of the ‘belly’ throughout the listening experience, one is inevitably swept away by an ethereal sweetness of heavenly and effortless nature, only to be roused by the pulsating, cathartic weight of their jarring and unsettling sonic onslaught.

Their music crafts a world of cinematic soundscapes, akin to film score compositions – both weighty and delicately brittle, visionary yet undeniably raw. Palmer Generator‘s musical mechanism thrives on cerebral experimentalism, evident in their concept albums that share a common thread, not in lyrical terms as they are an instrumental ensemble, but rather on a conceptual level.

An important note is their utilisation of three different recording studios and sound engineers for their four albums due to studio and time constraints. While Palmer Generator may someday expand its family, for now, they remain a triumvirate of musicians united by kinship, emerging as the most harmonious musical family that divine creation has produced.

Label: Bloody Sound
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify

Scribed by: Domenico ‘Mimmo’ Caccamo