[sic] Magazine

Banjo Or Freakout – Banjo Or Freakout

Performing as various fledging versions of Banjo Or Freakout , Italian-born, London-based bedroom song-smith Alessio Natalizia was flexing his wings, embracing both sides of his adopted moniker to see which fit best – sometimes tackling both at the same time. As a result, his fuzzy folk was sometimes straightforwardly acoustic, at other times coming dressed in oddball electronic experimentation, yet, curiously, it never really crossed the boundary marked freak-folk.

Nevertheless, this, his debut album proper, tones down the freak and partially the folk too in favour of hazy almost-pop. Opening with the warm embrace of the now-familiar single “105”, Natalizia sets his stall out early. Suggestively shoegaze, and with softly-softly vocals and indistinct edges aplenty, it’s the perfect partner to its follow-on. Cue “Go Ahead”, which purrs instead of prowling, hanging in aural suspension as Natalizia successfully steers his ship through the blur.

From here there are few surprises, few twists and turns, but that’s not to say the ride isn’t enjoyable. It’s fair to say the wet London streets were far from Natalizia’s mind when finalising his several tracks that dissolve into sunny, ambient instrumentals, and “Move Out” proves he hasn’t given up on the base power of the acoustic guitar totally, albeit a tune that ultimately is pleasingly given to 60s Girl Group concessions.

There’s a discernible whiff of mid-to-late 90s in the gently constructed “Idiot Rain”, which meanders on eels -like, simple chord progressions and a lightness of overall production – production that later shows its lo-fi credentials in the scuffed opening bars of “Fully Enjoy”. After that, it’s back to type and shimmering percussion dominates, placing Natalizia’s work back in a soporific, if not oneiric realm.

It’d be easy to let an album so intangible slip through the fingers unnoticed. It doesn’t vie for the attention. It isn’t the classroom show-off and can’t belch the alphabet, but spend some time with it and a meaningful friendship may well develop.

Advised downloads: “Go Ahead” and “Idiot Rain”.

~Banjo Or Freakout is released 7th March 2011 in the UK on Memphis Industries , 8th March in the US on Rare Book Room .~