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The Portland Playlist takes a trip to Italy with Mbrascatu

By | Teri Briggs

Wednesday’s, The Portland Playlist, show was unlike any other because it transported us to another country, the romantic country that is Italy.


Photo by Teri Briggs

Luke and Teri welcomed three of the five members of local band, Mbrascatu into the studio for a fun-filled evening of stories, Italian music, and live performance. Joining us were lead singer, guitarist, and Mbrascatu founder, Andrea Algieri; Dylan Dean, violin and backing vocals; and drummer, Mark Powers. John Sabestinas and Tim Anderson were there in spirit.

Mbrascatu is not just any band. Formed in 2010, they sing in Italian, Andrea’s native tongue. The band’s name happens to be the nickname of Andrea’s Grandfather given to him because of the dirty face he often had after a hard day’s work as a cobbler. The band’s music is a fusion of Indie Rock, and Old World charm, blending the banjo, ukulele, violin/viola, electric and acoustic guitars, with energetic drum and percussive beats. Andrea’s smoky, sensuous vocals will melt any heart even though his songs are less romantic and more political in nature.

Photo by Teri Briggs

We spent the first hour listening to the music influences of Andrea and Dylan’s. These ranged from The Cure, Jeff Buckley, and The Roots to Vinico Capossela, Bruno Martino, Goran Bregovic and Nuova Compagina Di Canto Popolare. Andrea talked about being starstuck upon meeting Vinico Capossela and Dylan’s wishing he could see Jeff Buckley in concert. Listening to the Italian songs, you can see how they’ve influenced Mbrascatu’s music with their energy, use of the violin, and theatrical presentation.

Moving into the second hour, we premiered many of the songs off their new album, “Elementi.” Elementi is an album that was recorded, produced, and released in a matter of months which is no small accomplishment! It is darker and moodier than its predecessor, “Tempo” but in no way less enjoyable. It “represents a shift forward in Mbrascatu as a group, a flourishing new creative and collaborative chemistry. According to Andrea, Elementi brings out the darker side of us. The tracks are entrenched with layers of shimmering guitars, growling violin solos, unpredictable rhythm sections and almost whispered melodies.”


Photo by Teri Briggs

The title track, Elementi, “is not about human juxtaposition, “but human qualities that exist simultaneously.” He continues, “We are often beautiful when repulsive. We destroy so that we then create (whether conscious of this or not). Our boldness does not exist without fear. This song is born of our own transitions – the molt from the last chapter of our creative process into the next, the embrace of aging from – nothing to lose.” “This is the theme of the album,” asserts Algieri, “and of all people—naked and tragic.”
Mark’s drums and percussion are brilliant on this album, and Tim’s bass guitar gives the whole album more of a rock sound. Dylan’s violin evokes every mood from happy, to plaintive, to downright growling. John’s guitar, banjo, and ukulele have never sounded better. Andrea’s recent crossover to playing more electric guitar has definitely influenced the direction the album took, and then there’s his vocals. As he says, the voice is also an instrument, and Andrea’s is one to be sure. In the much favored, “Il Prossimo Ritorno,” it is deep, husky, and melancholic. His Italian vocals transport you to another place, yetDSC_4211 the catchy choruses provide an opportunity for the audience to sing a long and stay grounded to the present.
The trio gave us a gift by performing three tracks off the album, “Tempo,” recorded in 2014, and released in January, 2015 at the popular, Mississippi Studios. We recorded most of the live portion of our show and views of that video have neared 1300 in two days to enthusiastic reviews of their music, many from people who had not heard Mbrascatu’s music before. This is what you see any time you attend one of their shows. Once they start the opening bars of a song, by the first chorus, they have the audience eating out of the palms of their hands, dancing, singing, and cheering along until the final beat of the last song. You may think the language would be a barrier, but instead, they bridge another world (Italy), with ours (Portland) in such an infectious way you don’t ever want it to stop. You will leave their show with a spring in your step, and a big smile on your face.

Photo by Teri Briggs

Elementi will be celebrated and released at a concert at The Old Church Concert Hall on Saturday, May 28th with Luz Elena Mendoza opening. You can find ticket information at, http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2534770.
Luke Neill
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