All work and no play makes for an extremely dull life. Everyone has that certain something that they’re passionate about, that thing that they love doing above all else. For Gianni Bredice, the passion is spread out across several hobbies: photography, skydiving, and music. Half Time represents the continuing development of Bredice’s music study and songwriting in debut album form. This project bears his stamp in all aspects of its creation, from composition and performance to album mastering and production. The eight songs featured on this album walk the line between electronic dance and jazz-soaked downbeat instrumentals.
The punch and smack of the drum programming on “Dreaming” sets the album into motion, tethered by the subtle funk of a looping bass line. Gianni splits up the solo parts between the keyboards and the electric guitar, allowing the heavy fuzz and distortion of the guitar to add a much-needed contrast against the high-pitched synthesizer licks. Any cracks within the composition are stuffed by wafting and wavering ambient chords. “Revival” pushes the dance factor further with an electro/industrial assault on the senses. The heavy and dark synth riffs burst over polyrhythmic percussion that refuses to sit still, holding up a spacey keyboard melody.
The overall mood shifts radically during “The Beginning,” a song which opens with a beautiful symphonic overture featuring Bredice’s piano improvisations over sweeping chords. An after-hours jazz motif builds once the sonic haze clears, coaxing the ear with warm keys and seductive drum patterns. An accordion-like solo breathes a slight international flavor into the composition towards its conclusion. “Memory” continues the sexy down tempo vibe with a Fender Rhodes piano over floating ambience, making way for slinky snare pad taps and cymbals that crash in slow motion. The modulation on some of the synthesizer solos almost threatens to kill the mood with high notes that pierce the atmosphere, drawing attention away from the calming background instrumentation.
The ominous tones that open “Out Of The Game” feel as if they should accompany the final scene of an action-packed science fiction feature. As the percussion begins to percolate underneath those jagged tones, the song unfolds into an uneven combination of abrasive guitars, acidic electronics, and tribal percussion. By trying to do too much at once, Gianni ends up with a piece that sounds like it’s going through a harmonic identity crisis. Bredice will always win when he keeps the mood reflective and atmospheric, as is the case on “Save My Soul.” The song’s intro is a wonderful build up of bongos, shakers, and additional percussion. The romantic piano melody seems to hug the frenetic slap of the bass keys and the arresting frequencies of the synthesizer are toned down a bit. As a result, the keyboard solo simply stands out instead of acting as an overpowering presence.
“Obsession” and “Children Moon” are a pair of jazz/rock hybrids that bring some musical twists and turns to the album. The drum sequence on “Obsession” sounds surprisingly natural and makes for a solid foundation on this track combined with the steady bass line. Bredice’s expressive guitar solos take center stage, coloring the piece with angular phrasing. “Children Moon” attempts to bring funk into its jazz equation with staccato bass lines and loose drum structures, but often seems as if the song elements don’t fully align with each other. In a way, this song is symbolic of the album as a whole.
Gianni Bredice certainly isn’t afraid to take chances on Half Time. While he’s able to showcase a variety of styles on the same album, it doesn’t necessarily achieve an aural continuity. At the same time, the release is proof that he has the talent and songwriting capabilities to turn his passion into a full-time gig.
Reviewed by Jason Randall Smith
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)