When I see the adjective avant-garde associated with certain musical genres I instinctively put myself on the defensive; for example funeral can be played in different ways, each acceptable, as long as you do not come to distort the essence that is largely inherent in its denomination of origin. The fear of running into someone who proposes something strange or original maybe only because he is not able to propose music pleasantly “normal”, is therefore always strong, and the same thoughts flashed in my head at the time of approaching this second album of the Czech Quercus. To understand what reserves the work in question, let’s start from the title of the album, for which it was chosen an Italian word: Sfumato has the double meaning of citing, on the one hand, the painting technique used by Leonardo and, on the other, connote the musical style of the band, which consistently does not show contours easily defined. The duo from Plzen, a Bohemian city known for its excellent beer, ventures so, as expected, in fifty minutes of not easy reading that, fortunately, largely disprove the gloomy omens I mentioned. Undoubtedly, the course of the songs is sometimes nerve-wracking, because as soon as a catchy melodic line takes shape its life turns out to be rather ephemeral; all this is compensated by the fact that the variations on the theme follow a certain logic and are also supported by an adequate executive technique. By its nature, a work built on similar coordinates can only show a swinging trend, although there are actually no particular songs to be pointed out in a negative sense, conversely, are undoubtedly to be reported …Which Is Lacking which, not by chance, is the track that has a more linear structure, with its painfully rarefied atmospheres, and The Flute In The Sink, in which instead the best cues do not end up being set aside in an instant but are properly structured, allowing Quercus to show the best side of their versatility, passing between dissonant moments, guitar chords painful as usual, until you reach a final with vaguely epic traits. Even Mother’s Wordfall moves on these changing but equally effective coordinates, while the opening and closing tracks of the album do not render in equal measure, in which the many valid cues end up being swallowed up in a tourbillon of time and atmosphere changes, everything, let’s be clear, related to the habits of a genre that of the static, after all, makes it a dowry and not a defect. That said, Sfumato is a work of undoubted interest as well as a successful attempt, albeit only in part, to model a material normally not very malleable; Quercus certainly earn the attention of fans from the most open-minded, but it is not certain that, over time, this modus operandi of theirs can not make a breach even against those who are entrenched in more conservative positions.

2014 – MFL Records