April 24, 2024

Guano Padano – Americana

Released: IPECAC          3rd November 2014


An Italian collective recording an album interpreting American authors in a tribute to an underground Italian movement of the nineteen-thirties; this was always going to be unusual…..


Based on a collective of four core performers, multiple guest appearances (including Calexico) create an album of raw and changing textures. The tracks interpret American authors (or others influenced by America) without actually quoting them. It makes for a considered and filmic album. It opens with piano and echoey guitar, working over a piece by Willam Saroyan. You see, it’s not just feelings from writings by Hemingway, Faulkner and Steinbeck here, there are others much less well known. There is a lot of lovely twangy guitar on track like Pian Della Tortilla (Tortilla Flats) before the rather special My Banjo Dog – a blasting romper. Dago Red is a saggy old-time dance tune with a Dan Fante tale told in  William Burroughs-ish croaky voice. Tracks come and go; twangy or slow mood pieces, sometimes short and often very like a film soundtrack.


My Town has words from Joey Burns of Calexico – an atmospheric poem about anomie and isolation. Station 37 is scraping, rattling and dragging sounds, while Cacti has a high and lonesome sound. The Seed And The Soil is a gently shuffly country waltz song and Black Boy has vocals from Mark Orton that sound like they are drawn off an old 78. Fat Of The Land (based on Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men) rounds off the set with a slow, finger-picked, on-the-porch type gentle come down.


The set is an atmospheric journey through a set of textures and, while you’d never get the inspirations behind the pieces without sleeve notes (a good reason to by the CD, not the download), I enjoyed the trip, with its varied textures and images.

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