Piccola Bottega Baltazar
Il disco dei Miracoli (The Disc of Miracles)
Azzurra Music, Italy
Piccola Bottega Baltazar present their 2007 recording, a song cycle about miracles. Inspired by "I miracoli di Val Morel," a book and paintings by Dino Buzzati, this disc of miracles records the everyday fantastic, the banal bizarre and the craziness of the routine.
Musically, it's a bit different from their previous work. They have moved away from jazz, toward singer/songwriter sensibilities with a touch of lounge and Mediterranean café music. The instruments used by the band are guitar, mandolin, harmonica, piano, bandoneon and glockenspiel, bass and drums, augmented by guest violinists, a cellist and a flute player. Particular mention should be given to the well-thought arrangements of the songs, which create layers of meaning and music that create a fuller sound on much of the recording.
The lyrics continue to be an integral part of the magic of this band. In a real homage to the original work, they work as one with the artwork, such as the cover picturing St. Rita, the saint of the Impossible, who according to the legends of the Northeast of Italy, once forbidden to enter a monastery (for there was a tint of suspicion hovering over her head regarding the weird death of her husband) was miraculously flown over the walls during the night. That and other tall tales form the backbone of the record. It would be nice if they could find the time to upload the translations of their songs to their already impressive website.
Lyrically, every song is unique. Musically, "Il Colombre," "Stregato da un sorriso" and "Gli amanti di via morel" seem to work the best for me. It's quite funny because two out of three are instrumentals which seem to add to the sentimental depth of the work.
The song that closes the record is their crowning achievement, musically and lyrically. "Fantasmi a Nordeast" (Phantoms of the Northeast), a tale of everyday miracles that best encapsulates this work: "On the trench, the signs from the tires of the mountain bike/locusts and the whirr of the A4/in your eyes myths and at your feet/the dog doesn't even bark."
PBB have continued to move forward, not veering too much off their path, but certainly finding new pastures. This is another exciting release from a fine band that here offers warm music for winter nights. - Nondas Kitsos
Artists' web site and audio samples: www.piccolabottegabaltazar.it