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Misty Morning : GA.GA.R.IN. - Galactic Gateways for Reborn Intellects

Ambitious and as genuinely eclectic as they come, Misty Morning's debut full-length reaches far and wide.

Misty Morning would like you to know that their debut full-length is not a concept album. It says so on their Bandcamp page: "This is not a concept album...". There is a "nevertheless" though, and from it we learn that 'GA.GA.R.IN.' is an acronym for 'Galactic Gateways for Reborn Intellects', that the lyrics cover the relation between Mankind, technology and the surrounding Universe, and that the music is a collection of full length tracks linked by individual interludes composed and performed by each band member. All of which is wrapped in a NASA-style mission logo cover laden with the symbology of enlightenment. Hmmm - I'd almost be tempted to roll out the old saying that starts "If it walks like a duck...", were it not for the fact that would be a little disrespectful. There are certainly bands who work around, shall we say, an incomplete command of English but with, for example, co-founder (and guitarist/vocalist/lyricist/composer) Luca 'Luke' Moretti having qualified in the intricacies of Japanese sufficiently to spend years acting in their classical theatre, linguistic comprehension is not something Misty Morning are lacking.

So, when they say that 'GA.GA.R.IN.' isn't truly a concept album, best believe them. You'll enjoy the stomping fusion of Stoner Doom with all sorts of other genres, from moody electronica to folk, far more that way - considering each track as loosely-linked but complete in its own right, rather than trying to fit them into a consistent bigger picture. Just as well, given that there's a strong possibility of madness in trying to rationalise what's on offer - whatever else they may do, or not do, this more than embodies that almost de rigueur Italian Stoner/Psych expect-the-unexpected, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink eclecticism.

Some tracks are more closely linked than others, with shorter pieces serving as overtures for the longer centrepieces: most of both kinds getting short explanatory notes alongside the lyrics, all provided in the very helpfully informative booklet that comes with the tidy digipack release, through their own Magik Science label. And so we learn that, for example, the exuberant fanfare and up-tempo hard rock gallop of 'Forward'/'GA.GA.R.IN.' are all about a human-spaceship merger searching for ways to re-awaken Mankind's communality. Or that 'Silicon Sea'/'Mourn O' Whales' - with its dark electronic intro, sonar echoes and whale song seamlessly leading into some heavy-riffing, anthemic Stoner - is actually considering how a whale cult could summon a giant squid-god from outer space to destroy all humans. Laid back, bluesy Southern-rock groover 'Doomzilla' even posits the attack of such a creature, and it's even revisited as a bonus track, translated into Japanese (the other bonus is an Italian version of the title track. Because they could).

If you're thinking, by this point, that this sounds a bit off the wall, even for Italian Stoners, you'd be right. Not that we haven't seen similarly weird and wonderful stories being told by the likes of I Compagni Di Baal, Witchfield and L'Ira Del Baccano - to pick just a few - but The Misties (as they often refer to themselves) not only mix up that side of things, they also reach for whatever musical style or influence seems appropriate for the moment. In the tracks not even mentioned so far, you can also find (neo-)Medieval rubbing shoulders with doomy Prog/Rock ('A New Cosmology'/'Black Monk Lives'), and a heavy Stoner homage to folk-singer Angelo Branduardi's 'Ballo in Fa # Min' sandwiched between some meditative piano and a genuinely Folky acoustic piece ('Baltimore, 1849' and 'Sonnet', respectively).

'Eclectic' is certainly an over-used word for music, often covering some quite trivial mix-and-match elements. In this case, it almost seems inadequate. Misty Morning are accomplished, no doubt of that - some of them have been playing together since the mid-'90s - and there's no faulting the quality of instrumental work (particularly rejetto's varied and sterling work on the prominently-used keyboards), or the way they can tackle so many different angles, individually or collectively. The downside of that is perhaps that cramming it all into an hour of music means that this ends up being something of a musical chameleon, not really committing to any particular characteristic or identity: the closest thing to a universally-recognisable factor is Luke's pleasingly emotive, very clearly enunciated and often-stentorian baritone delivery. Compared to the more consistent sounds of previous EPs and demos, though, it's almost as if the blank canvas of an album-length release provoked a bit of an over-reaction in filling it with variety.

Don't get me wrong - taken as separate works under a loose banner, you'd have a very hard time criticising any single track: they're all well-written, well-executed, and there are plenty of catchy hooks to get you nodding along. And if you have a liking for the surprises of random shuffle, YouTube playlists, or streaming radios, you may well be in your element with the different twists and turns 'GA.GA.R.IN.' takes. It's only if you prefer your albums to distil some complete sense of identity and direction of a band that things may end up a little confusing - that's the one thing you probably can't take away from it. Still, if that's a problem, I would merely direct you towards the more conventional Stoner Doom of the previous 'Saint Shroom' EP, as a more suitable starting point, rather than the ambitious reach shown here.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Forward
2. GA.GA.R.IN. - Galactic Gateways for Reborn Intellects
3. Silicon Sea
4. Mourn O' Whales
5. A New Cosmology
6. Black Monk Lives
7. Doomzilla
8. Baltimore, 1849
9. Ballo in Fa # Min
10. Sonnet
11. ドゥームジラ - Doomzilla.jp (Bonus track)
12. GA.GA.R.IN.it - Galeone Galattico per la Rinascita degli Intelletti (Bonus track)

Duration : Approx. 57 minutes

Visit the Misty Morning bandpage.

Reviewed on 2016-05-01 by Mike Liassides
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