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Salvatore - Fresh

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Artist: Salvatore

Album: Fresh

Label: Rocket Racer

Review date: Mar. 7, 2004

Salvatore's latest album brings even crisper, stripped-down instrumental post-rock, if you'll forgive using that pseudo-genre description. The band's instrumental music flows with the precision of Krautrock, with nearly every song based around steady drums and repetitive basslines. It all feels very clean perhaps even too well-mannered.

Fresh has a Moroccan motif going on, with a brief essay inside about a trip to Tangier, and its recording in Marrakech. The song titles also tie in with the theme, including "Medina Drive," "The Seven Colours of Gnaff," and "100 Camels in the Courtyard," the latter the title of a book by expatriate and infamous Tangier resident Paul Bowles.

"Get the Kids on the Street It's a Party" opens the album with pulsing drums, a loping, looping bassline, and pinging harmonic guitars that expand and contract with varying amounts of noise and distortion. "Medina Drive" likewise takes the foundation of a nice thick bassline and droning sounds, then layers on pretty crystalline guitars. The aforementioned "100 Camels in the Courtyard" is based on a motorik four-note bassline, as is "Vogel," which throws in ringing guitars that make it sound somewhere between Scenic and a mellow Savage Republic.

The songs on Fresh generally follow a formula, defined by straight-forward, crisp drums, basslines, and collections of pretty guitar sounds on top, with keyboards coming and going. The disadvantage to this approach is that the core of each song is the rhythm section, which results in the album blurring together memorable melodic hooks are not Salvatore's strong suit.

The songs that end up standing out are those that depart slightly from the formula, such as "Chant of the No-No's," with a cavernous, echoing feel like drums in a warehouse, and a cool melodic motif surrounded by echoing vocal sounds and chiming guitars. It's pretty and effervescent, while also deep and rather psychedelic. "Dune" is noisier and dronier than most of the songs here, hewing closer to Bardo Pond territory, perhaps, than Scenic or Circle.

Fresh is a consistent, pleasant album, but I wish it had a bit more grit and emotion to give its songs a sharper edge.

By Mason Jones

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