March 16, 2013

Review: Zerothehero-Nowhere

 Once again I found myself immersed in an album released by someone I had not heard of, and once again, I am “blown away” by what I discovered. Reviewing albums is certainly an eye-opener, or should that be, ear-opener? The album in question is Nowhere and the band name attached to the album is ZerotheHero, although a little background research shows that this is a one man extravaganza, and he is Italian progressive multi-instrumentalist Carlo Barreca. Digging deeper, I found that Carlo was a member of an Italian band called Fungus and he used the name Zero the Hero, now adorning this new release. He certainly is a multi-instrumentalist as the instrument list contains acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, keyboards, synthesizers, flute, trumpet, violin, drums, programmed percussion and, finally, vocals. Time to find out what Carlo serves up on this album.

Nowhere is a nine track album lasting around 44 minutes, with the longest track, ”March On Mars” opening the album and 7:47 minutes in length, and “Last Bus Home,” track 7 being the shortest track at under 3 minutes. (2:38)

This is not quite an instrumental album as there are a few vocal passages to be found, mainly on track 5, “Raindrops,” and track 8, “Shelter.” For those lovers of early 70’s Pink Floyd and mellotrons this will be a very enjoyable listen, with Carlo managing to serve up an excellent “tribute” to those styles, but has also succeeded in sidestepping a straightforward copy of them.

The long opening track, “March on Mars” is a great starting track which “grabs you by the throat” in a sort of gentle manner, with the powerful bass, magnificent organ and keyboards and if you add to that mix, a guitar style that “doffs its hat “ to a certain Mr. Gilmour, you have the beginnings of a superb set of tracks. At over 7 minutes it never outstays its welcome and is simply stunning.

As you progress through “Lotus,” which is very atmospheric, with mellotron, clipped percussion and a guitar melody that floats over the top, then on into “Flood” with its very different drumming, plaintive piano, laid back organ and a little quirkiness, you are very aware of the uniqueness of each track. At no point in these opening tracks do you get a feeling of “deja-vu.”

 “A Deep Breath,” is a superb acoustic piece with those amazing mellotron washes, and very gentle. There is a change to a slightly more jazzy feel to the next track, “Raindrops” with percussion which keeps the track moving while the bass and guitar “chip in” as the pace quickens. The vocals are very spaced out and dripping with echo effects, but seem just right for the track. “Electric Sheep” starts with sheep bleating, which seems an interesting touch, before settling into a stunningly simple piano track with flute and trumpet adding to the atmosphere. There is a magnificent guitar melody towards the end of what is a beautiful piece of music.

“Last Bus Home” heralds in another change of style, a more up-tempo synthesizer piece, which has other effects swirling in and out. The next track, “Shelter,” is another change of pace and is reminiscent of some of the material Camel are so famous for. There are great vocals again on this track, seamlessly dovetailing in, as they did on the other track. The main thrust of this track is the superb guitar work of Carlo (who else?) which is beautifully melodic creating a very romantic atmosphere to this penultimate track. The final track on Nowhere, “Peace” has a very gentle start with mellotron, piano and flute before the track builds in intensity with more guitar work and keyboards as the track moves towards the end.

This album has been played many times over the past week, and I will admit that on the first hearing, I was not as impressed as I am now. It seems to have taken one or two plays before I was aware of the majestic nature of this piece of work. I am now convinced that this is an album definitely not to be missed and gets one of my new double-sized, full color “One To Buy” stickers on the cover and the “No Home Should Be Without One” sticker down in the corner.
5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: March On Mars, A Deep Breath, Shelter

Jim “The Ancient One” Staff

March 16, 2013

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