The Italian Prog Rock band So Does Your Mother recently released an excellent first album.
In 2013 So Does Your Mother released a their first EP (Facing the Animals). Following that template this expanded project, entitled Neighbours, comprises of eight tracks of amazing vibrancy and energy.
Before leaping in to assess Neighbours in more detail, let’s take a moment to ponder those words: Italian Prog Rock.
Italy is, perhaps, not the immediate choice to link to the confusing and much maligned art of Prog Rock. When you think of Italian music many might immediately think of, perhaps, the ecclesiastical music of Giovanni Pergolesi or the ambitious and soaring dash of Verdi and Rossini’s William Tell Overture. Others may leap to imagining dusty showdowns to the balletic rendition of a score by Ennio Morricone. Or perhaps you might include in the list the lush and Baroque tones of a film score by the frequently sorely overlooked Giallo soundtracks of Bruno Nicolai or the anxiety-inducing synthesizer soaked electro-scores of Goblin accompanying Dario Argento’s visions.
But, in many ways, because of all the above, Prog Rock should feel very much at home in Italy.
As recently as 2015 His Holiness the Pope recently leant extracts from his speeches to a Prog Rock album.
From the technical brilliance (and often outright ostentation of the display of such virtuosity) demanded of jazz to the authentic drama of the blues, all these unify in the gaudy theatricality of opera. Prog Rock combines all these. It should come as no surprise to find the Prog Rock movement alive and well in Italy. Especially in the form of So Does Your Mother and Neighbours.
Formed in 2009, So Does Your Mother comprises: Lorenzo Sidoti – Guitar; Vladimiro Sbacco – Keyboards & Synth; Gian Maria Camponeschi – Bass; Alessio Zappa – Drums; Francesco Antonini – Flute; Letizia Lenzi – Clarinet; Carmine Di Lauro – Sax; with vocalists Francesca Faraglia, Domitilla Masi and Maria Onori. So Does Your Mother have developed an obvious and strong artistic cohesion thanks to their live performances and this enriches their performances now they have entered the recording studio to release Neighbours.
The album is crisply produced. Clean arrangements, thanks to the skilled work of Marco Molteni and the gang at the Mordecai Studio in Rome, allow nothing to interfere with the firm delivery of solid musical talent to the listener. In this, there are echoes of early Jean Michel Jarre and the clarity of Bruno Nicolai’s soundtrack recordings. Molteni’s studies led him to work those who’ve worked with Pete Gabriel. Doubtless this was a valuable experience in helping get the best sound for So Does Your Mother. Incidentally, perhaps it’s no coincidence that Goblin have also recorded at the same Trafalgar Studios as So Does Your Mother.
The album is not a trite or superficial emulation of Prog Rock attitudes. True to their adherence to Prog Rock essentials, So Does Your Mother embrace the elaborate polymetrics in the style of, say, King Crimson and Yes; there are flickers of a narrative flow required of any self-respecting Prog Rock album from the 1970s too. There’s an overall virtuoso display in the singing and playing too.
In brief, Neighbours features the following tracks: Mitile Milite, MD (feat. Ike Willis), Swallow, Modern Seducer, Under the Roof (featuring the impressive vocals of Italian jazz and blues singer, Ghita Casadei), Your Mother, Red Leaf and concludes with Modern Seducer (Reprise).
The album opens with a strong jazz cadence and noir atmosphere. Again, this conjures up images of those hi-energy Giallo soundtracks – matching the raw ferocity of their B-Movie origins. Neighbours tells the story of show business ambition. The love of the artists for their art and their desire to perform and the sordid exploitation of that ambition by greedy commercial self-interest.
So Does Your Mother deserve a wider audience.
The album features the talents of Ike Willis (a powerful vocalist and veteran of many of Frank Zappa’s various projects). Each track is distinctive. Each track is well crafted both lyrically and musically.
The band’s avowed funk and jazz influences are ever present. The whole album is infused with an unbounded dynamic drive and exquisite skill. This drive and energy is especially obvious in Mitile Milite and Modern Seducer.
In MD (with the excellent characterisation of Ike Willis as the sleazy counter-point to the artists’ purer ambitions) they sing plaintively: “We are not going to disappoint you.”
They don’t. Please take a chance to enjoy So Does Your Mother.