Review: San Leo ‘Aves Raras’

The Italian experimental and sonically multiform duo San Leo, whose name is inspired by a historical medieval fortress of the same name built on a rocky peak near Rimini, in the Italian region of Emilia Romagna, was formed by Marco Migani (aka inserirefloppino) and Marco Tabellini (aka m tabe), respectively on drums, guitar and electronics, to move mountains through their indomitable and shocking turbulent full-bodied layered sound since mid-2000. 

San Leo 'Aves Raras' Artwork
San Leo ‘Aves Raras’ Artwork

With five full-length studio albums and two live recordings under their belt, they weave a majestic, intertwined embroidery of various musical genres, strengthening it with a psych landscape that only a few musical duos have managed to create. Their albums are loaded and filled with a muscular, ethereal and never-ending dark experimental sound which contains a succession of musical contaminations ranging from post-rock to space rock and kraut up to exploring and channelling into an ultra-transcendental aura made to catch your inner sensitiveness through their sound and vision.

Their music is constructed as if they wanted to relive in their mind what happened inside and around the enclosure of San Leo’s fortress walls that marked the history of a town which still today vibrates with those past memories. An important fact to underline is that the titles of the songs contained in their first three albums are almost short stories. The plot is described through music in a historical and ‘fairytale’ way that transports you into an almost Dante-esque world, while in the last two albums, the titles are shorter as if they wanted to leave it up to the listener to interpret the tracks in their own way.

a sonic painting with a mixture of vibrant colours clashing with different beats of hypnotic and cathartic tribal grooves…

Their new album Aves Raras (Rare Birds) is a sonic painting with a mixture of vibrant colours clashing with different beats of hypnotic and cathartic tribal grooves as represented on the album cover. The opening track, ARIES, is marked by twenty minutes of a euphoric chilling succession of pressing sounds that seem to find you stuck in the trench of a powder keg exploding and fighting with each other. An incessant and frenetic galloping wall of sound turbulence penetrates deep into your bones and throws you into a state of insane madness. A real disturbing invasion of your mind.

J!OY is savage with a scary eerie voice that musically is filled with a magnetic force which emits small fragments of solar flares. Sonic hypnotism is conveyed through the powerful and tremendous industrial sound of FUTURA 2000. As if that wasn’t enough of what your mind, soul and body have experienced in the last thirty-four minutes, San Leo leave you more shaken than ever by a volcanic musical eruption that comes out of AL.AY. In the end, you don’t know if you will be able to break free from the prison of the evil and tortured-sounding San Leo fortress.

The duo don’t stray too far from their musical enclosure because they want every pinch of their sound to numb your senses until you reach the final cerebral madness.

Label: Bronson Recordings
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Domenico ‘Mimmo’ Caccamo