Insider, Event Horizon: Gravitational Pull

Posted in Reviews on January 14th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

The prevailing impression of Insider‘s Event Horizon is one of transition. In that way, the 59-minute offering from the Italian heavy psych/prog trio, released through Andruid Records, very much lives up to its title, which refers to the precipice at which one can no longer retreat from the gravitational pull from a black hole. It is the band’s fifth or sixth full-length, and follows last year’s Vibrations from the Tapes (review here), which collected nearly 80 minutes of jams recorded in 2007. Event Horizon isn’t quite so overwhelming, and the chief difference between the two outings — aside from the 20-minute shorter runtime of the latest; an hour is still more than enough time for Insider to get their point across — is that Event Horizon is much more structured than was its predecessor. The late 2013 release arrives some eight years after Insider‘s last studio album, 2005’s Simple Water Drops, so even with Vibrations from the Tapes as a stopgap or perhaps a signal of revitalized activity, there’s been plenty of opportunity for creative growth within the band. Interestingly, what we seem to find across these eight mostly-extended cuts is that exact growth in progress. Memorable riffs pervade songs like the opener “Escape Velocity,” “Gravitational Mass” and the six-movement “Expansion of the Universe,” but chiefly, Event Horizon presents an image of the trio in flux as they move toward a songwriting process from jammier past efforts — granted Vibrations from the Tapes was recorded earlier, but until Event Horizon it was still their latest material — thus further solidifying their instrumental approach.

Ultimately, it’s a very particular moment captured on Event Horizon, because while Insider have moved past (at least for the time being, one never knows what future albums will bring) presenting their output in its rawest form — i.e., the jams — neither have they completely moved from that ethic to a wholly structured approach. Event Horizon resides, then, at the borderline between the two mindsets, and presents Insider, comprised of guitarist/keyboardist Marco Ranalli, bassist Piero Ranalli and drummer Stefano Di Rito with the very choice that the title seems to self-consciously hint toward: Do they continue on this path toward verse/chorus songwriting, or do they pull back into the more spontaneous atmospheres of their prior work. Their earliest albums, 1996’s Insider and 1998’s Land of Crystals, were more straightforward stylistically, it’s worth noting (also reportedly more metal), so maybe a shift away from jamming would be bringing Insider full-circle. If they could do so in a manner that further pushed their sound creatively as Event Horizon seems to do, with Marco adding progressive and psychedelic depth to the songs via sundry analog and digital synth and also enhancing the emotional scope — also allowing listeners a moment to breathe/become further hypnotized in the three-minute title-track that precedes “Expansion of the Universe” — they might be all the better for it. One imagines, however, that doing so would remove some of the opportunity for proggy exploration upon which “Black Hole” and “Magnetic Field Lines” seem only too ready to capitalize, making the songs shorter by and large. Tradeoffs in everything, I suppose.

Read more »

Tags: , , , ,

Insider Post Video of New Song “Jet”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 11th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Working quickly to follow up on 2012’s Vibrations from the Tapes (review here), Italian instrumental outfit Insider have released a new album in the form of Event Horizon. Presumably they named it after the gravitational border of a black hole and not the crappy movie from 1997, which the band actually pre-date. Insider have been around in one form or another since 1991, and the song “Jet,” which has made its way online — I think at the behest of the band, but maybe not? — feels immediately more structured than a lot of what they were jamming out last time around. That could just be this one track, or it could be the whole record. You never really know with these guys.

But two guitars, an intricate groove and a healthy dose of keyboards give “Jet” a progressive feel, even if Insider are still well within the range of heavy rock for how they seem to lock in where they want to go with the progression and then stick to it for the duration, trading off here and there for instrumental verses and choruses but basically moving back and forth along a single linear flow.

Vibrations from the Tapes was a lot to take on at 79 minutes, but if you haven’t had a sample of Insider‘s wares, “Jet” is hardly going to tell the full story, but it might be enough to pique your interest and drive further investigation. You’ll find it in the YouTube clip below, which was brought to my attention through the graceful diligence of Christina Bishop. Cheers:

Insider, “Jet” from Event Horizon (2013)

Insider on Thee Facebooks

Insider’s website

Tags: , , , , ,

Insider, Vibrations from the Tapes: Till the Wheels Fall Off

Posted in Reviews on February 22nd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Within the first five of its total 79 minutes, Insider’s Vibrations from the Tapes has let you know what it’s all about. The Italian instrumental trio – founded by brothers Marco Ranalli (guitar) and Piero Ranalli (bass) in 1991, though in a much different musical form – are all about the jams. The Phonosphera limited-to-200 jewel case CD pressing is comprised of five tracks, and apart from the second, “Killing Boredom” (3:08), none of them are under 12 minutes long. The penultimate “First Steps” solos and echoes its way past the 27-minute mark, and before opener “Your Brainticket” (22:33) is over, Insider have made direct musical references to Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix – probably others as well – so really, it’s not like the band are shooting for subtlety in letting listeners know what they’re up to. It’s the jam, and Insider – rounded out by drummer Stefano Di Rito and mastered by Void Generator’s Gianmarco Iantaffi – hone in on it pretty well. Or at least they did, since Vibrations from the Tapes was put to its titular tape in 2007.

The band tracked these songs live in their rehearsal space and if you told me they were making a decent portion of the music up on the spot, I’d believe you, since even if some of the parts are plotted out beforehand, there’s a natural spontaneity that arises from Marco’s range of effects and Stefano’s drum changes that shines through each of these tracks. That leaves Piero as the anchoring element, and he proves more than capable in the role, sticking more or less in the vicinity of a single bassline for most of “Your Brainticket” and all of the aforementioned shortest jam “Killing Boredom” while Marco and Stefano enact and punctuate, respectively, a heavy psychedelic swirl around him. Since a portion of the European scene has been centered around this kind of jamming – if not as the actual substance of their releases (apart from Electric Moon and a handful of others), then at least as the foundation from which songs are then built – one might say Insider were ahead of the game six years ago when they dealt out these Vibrations, but rehearsal space jamming is ultimately nothing new and as hypnotic as these tracks are once the band really gets going, they never seems to be making any claim at groundbreaking originality, as the nods to “War Pigs” and “Voodoo Child” toward the end of “Your Brainticket” would seem to indicate.

Rather, what Insider seem intent on capturing with Vibrations from the Tapes is simply what the title tells you: The vibes, presented as organically as possible. If you want to put a grander sensibility to it, you might say they’re attempting to capture the natural spirit of creation in process, the very roots of where music, pop-structured or otherwise, comes from, but while on some level that’s true, it also seems a bit lofty for the presentation through which Insider hold forth this material. Even with the let’s-go-further-out centerpiece “Raga in the Sky,” on which Marco’s guitar takes to suitable Eastern scales for leads echoing atop consistent bass from Piero, Insider don’t seem to be wrapped up in themselves so much as they’re wrapped up in the music. Not that this kind of project isn’t inherently self-indulgent – because it is, and make no mistake – it’s just that with Piero running a simple thread under Marco’s lines while Stefano’s drums thud out far back on the two mics the band used to record themselves, it hardly seems like they’re trying to put on a clinic or be showy in any way. It is utterly structureless – though builds rise up and fall down periodically, as on “Raga in the Sky” – and its modus seems to wander as presented throughout even the shortest of these cuts, Insider did right in going raw with the recording, and ultimately, Vibrations from the Tapes has a much easier time living up to what the band decided to call it because they don’t spend any time pretending it’s something more than that. You get, like mom used to say, what you get.

Read more »

Tags: , , , ,