Primordial Sonics David Vito Gregoli 2012 / Dharmapala Records 59 minutes
David Vito Gregoli’s "Primordial Sonics" is just about as far from a solo piano recording as we can go, but that’s mentioned purely as a point of reference. Variety is truly a spice of life, and this album provides very generous helpings of spice AND variety! The press release invites with: “Lose yourself in the chill grooves of eclectic instrumentation designed to carry you back to humanity’s primal roots. Innovative and surprisingly infectious, 'Primoridal Sonics' is Ambient Aboriginal Groove Fusion - Indian, Australian, and Middle Eastern sounds infused with modern rhythms.” That should give you an idea of why I was intrigued even before hearing the music! Destined for mainstream radio it isn’t, but it was never intended to be. Gregoli founded Dharmapala Records and Da Vigi music in 2000 as a way to give new sounds, songwriters, bands, etc. a voice in this age of musical homogenization as well as to provide a vehicle for his own very diverse music. With a degree in Classical Guitar and years of experience in many, many genres of music, Gregoli is clearly obsessed with musical experimentation. The seven tracks on Primordial Sonics were used or slated for use in other projects, but Gregoli added instrumentation and rhythmic elements as well as collaborating with didjeridu virtuoso Stephen Kent for this recording. Other contributing artists are Yoga chanteuse Donna De Lory, flautists Suzanne Teng and Manose, and, posthumously, percussionist Geoffrey Gordon and bassist Bob Birch.
"Primordial Sonics" begins with “Rag Klem,” a piece that I’m told was based on the folk song, “Oh My Darling, Clementine.” I have tried, and I don’t hear that melody at all, but what a fascinating concept! The original arrangement was a guitar/sitar piece and then Gregoli added drum groove, funky bass, Indian tambora, and Australian didjeridu for a truly world mix. “All Sentient Beings” began as a flute-dominated track for an abandoned film on Burma. Gregoli transposed one of the didj tracks down “an obscene amount,” giving the piece a very other-worldly feel. The infectious percussion and rhythmic groove send this one soaring, but the jaw-dropping didj solo that begins at about the 6 1/2 minute mark is not to be missed! I love “Prayer for Kuan Yin,” a slower, more graceful piece composed in 2009 during some of the worst fires in Los Angeles history. Gentle vocals and haunting flute backed with bass, didj, and drum grooves paint a peaceful picture in greens and blues. “Voodoo Vito” was composed as a cue for a voodoo vampire film. This track combines two versions that merge to become a hair-raising musical adventure - or misadventure - as well as a lot of fun. “Big Sky Mind” was named for a book on the 1950’s Buddhist-influenced Beat poets and clocks in at more than 13 1/2 minutes. While hanging out at Stephen Kent’s studio one day, Gregoli started a drum loop with a didj track, hit “record,” and began running around the room playing almost every instrument in the studio. While that sounds chaotic, the drone of the didj and rhythmic drum loop hold the piece together through the various instrumental changes. It’s quite a tour de force and clearly demonstrates Gregoli’s incredible musicianship and versatility.
If you’re in the mood for music that is very different and an artist who is a true original, check out "Primordial Sonics." It is available from www.dharmapalarecords.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby.
I have been a private piano teacher since 1981. I have been writing reviews for a long time, and have my own review and interview site, MainlyPiano.com. I teach piano in person and online, so now I can … more