Ænima Recordings [Release date 19.03.14]
Recording as an instrumental power trio brings its own challenges, not least the need for quality material with which to make an impact. No such problem hinder Italy’s Marcos Power Trio who exude equal amounts of confidence and creativity on an album that the G3 school of guitarists would surely have liked to have produced.
Comprising guitarist Marcos Roagna, bassist Fabricio El Coenda and drummer Gianni Romagnolo, these 10 songs probably accurately reflect the band’s crossover style from rock, blues, funk to acoustic interludes.
‘Mp3’ is an album full of resonant melodies, inspired playing and a fine self production that places the emphasis on impacting dynamics.
From the razor sharp opening instrumental of ‘Chopper’, through to the laid back outro of ‘Car Lean Blues’, Marcus Power Trio announce themselves as a super confident, road tested and studio experienced power trio, who place the emphasis on feel.
Their single release ‘La Rue’ is the perfect example of the above, even if their melody and tone is inevitably coloured by the influence of Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Given the chops of guitarist Marcos Roagna’s that’s no bad thing. Unlike many contemporary guitarists Marcos is the king of nuance, subtlety and tone as he makes his guitar sing evocatively.
The funky ‘London Banana’ has echoes of mid-70’s Jeff Beck, but has an immediacy that grabs the listener from the opening notes, while the mid-number drop down serves to emphasize Marcos’s change to a fuller tone.
It’s often said that slow blues gives you clue as to a player’s real ability. On ‘Willy’s Blues’, Marcos’s slide playing superbly teases out the melody, as the rhythm guitar track accents fleetingly evoke The Beatles ‘Oh Darling’, before he switches to a conversational style solo over the drum tight rhythm section.
There’s a delicious acoustic outing on ‘Catfish’, on which Marcos’s touch, tone and harmonics are exemplary and ‘Canyon’ is no less impressive, from its opening cymbal splashes to the delightful Knopfler style dancing notes. Marcos shapes his solo delightfully and subtly changes his tone like an artist adds layers of paint to a canvas. His delicate use of wah wah and vibrato is a joy.
‘Mp3’ is an album full of creativity and tonal variety, played by a trio that refreshingly focuses on deep textures rather than blistering riffs. It’s doubtful there’s been an instrumental guitar-led album release as good as this in the last 12 months.
Only the pedestrian boogie opening of ‘Marsun Blues’ appears to run out of ideas, but even here Marcos’s concise solo gives the track presence, while his tone on ‘Saint Homme’ trembles with emotion..
Every solo is a direct means of communication with the listener. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, he never wastes a note. Having made his point, he moves on to explore other avenues with which to enchant us. And just when the band appears to be slipping into a laid back mode, they up the tempo on the stop-time, chiming guitars and country picking of ‘Boy.com’, before an acoustic -to-electric outro on ‘Car Lean Blues’ gives the album a delightful after hours finish.
‘Mp3’ is an excellent album which given the benefit of deserved air play will surely appeal to all rock, blues and guitar fans alike. Unreservedly recommended. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
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