Since Mike Watt decided to recruit two relatively obscure musicians for Il Sogno del Marinaio, one of his most recent musical projects, all many listeners will have to go on when hearing about their new album is Watt’s name. I was one of these listeners, and I wasn’t disappointed with ‘Canto Secondo.’ Everything I’ve enjoyed about Watt’s songwriting and musicianship is on full and familiar display, and as with his now-legendary work, it’s brimming with creativity from every member of the ensemble. Watt’s virtuosic bass playing weaves an accompanying melody around guitarist Stefano Pilia’s hypnotic, dexterous riffs, while drummer/experimental musician Andrea Belfi keeps impressive time behind them.
Comprised mostly of instrumental songs, save some spoken word and a melody or two, this album is basically everything you could want out of three skilled, interesting musicians. Some more Beefheart-esque songs consist of several sections of repetitive riffs followed by abrupt changes, while others drip with math punk fury. It can be hard to tell what song you’re listening to, but it’s all the more incredible when you realize you’re listening to the same song you were just a minute ago. Though it retains that “three guys in a room” feel throughout, there’s an eclectic mix of noises and instruments scattered throughout this album. This is an album that really holds the attention span. It’s groovy, sincere, atmospheric, and totally all over the place, but the band is tight enough to focus the energy into a fascinating album.