Review: Ian Narcisi “Weight Of The Words”

Ian Narcisi “Weight Of The Words”

17 Aug, 2009 Rhonda Readence

ian-narcisi-weight-of-the-wordsAny progressive rock lover will be absolutely delighted by Ian Narcisi’s extremely well-crafted album Weight Of The Words. The album starts out with an otherworldly intro that brings to mind space odysseys and time travel. The intro slides smoothly into the opening track, “Twilight’s Last,” which begins with a melodic journey of keys and guitars and expert musicianship. We know from the get-go that Ian Narcisi is not your average artist and that this is most certainly not your every day music.

As “Twilight’s Last” continues, we are greeted by Ian’s vocals which further emphasize the fact that we are in for one hell of a ride with this album. Throughout the song the space odyssey theme persists and Ian treats us to a wide range of vocal talent that, at times, seems to emulate aliens speaking.

After the dramatic opening track, we might feel a sense of anticipation at what is next, along with a mild sense of anxiety when we consider the fact that the rest of that album can’t possibly measure up to “Twilight’s Last.” Ian proves us wrong, of course, with the beginning of “Veil” which starts off with only vocals and no instruments. Then crystal clear guitar work shines through the sound of falling rain. We might be reminded of Pink Floyd while listening to this song, specifically early Pink Floyd. “Veil” is a melodic piece of art that captures us completely.

“Burning” is also rather Floydian and Ian’s voice brings to mind the esteemed Mr. David Gilmour. This song is soft and flowing and the piano really gives it what it needs. The lyrics are rather thought provoking as well. Ian’s sings, “Rivers of cigarette butts fill the streets, plastic bags launched helpless through the trees…” It makes me think of a desolate inner city landscape in the dead of fall under steel grey skies. Between the lyrics and the music, this song can’t get much better, but it does. Cue harmonica. Nice touch.

The fourth track is a truly ingenious instrumental piece titled “Along For The Ride.” Indeed. Aptly titled. We are being taken along for a ride on this one; A ride that consists of extraordinary soundscapes that rival some of the best musicians I’ve ever heard. Each instrument rings out clearly without being obvious. The music sounds very nearly perfect in my headphones, and I find that if I close my eyes I can hear it better. I can almost SEE it. This song is entirely too short. It should continue indefinitely.

“Throw It Away” transports us from the dreamy soundscape of “Along For The Ride” and takes us directly into Italy or perhaps Spain. The guitar work on this song is phenomenal and “Throw It Away” will be sure to get people dancing some sort of Latin dance that is complicated and beautiful. The background vocals on this song are exceedingly well done and they compliment Ian’s voice beautifully. Salsa, anyone?

The next track, “Unified,” begins with a funky bass line that is soon accompanied by guitars and drums and instruments of every kind in this spacey creation. Another amazingly well-crafted instrumental, “Unified” has an almost holy feel to it, with an underlying current of sensuality. An odd combination, perhaps, but one that works exceedingly well. This song is a show of brilliance.

“Around To Face You” has a melody to it that vaguely resembles I Love The Night by Blue Oyster Cult. It’s not overly obvious, but since that is one of my favorite songs I was able to pick up on it. “Around To Face You” is a difficult song to describe because there is so much going on here. This song cannot be properly placed in a category, or a box, as it were. Not being able to categorize a song means that it is truly diverse with regards to musical influence and that it is a well rounded piece of music. There’s so much happening in this song, and it all comes together surprisingly well, that we could conceivably listen to it multiple times and probably hear new things each time.

Track eight, “Quevlar’s Journey,” is another instrumental that is beautifully engineered. This song, like much of the album (especially the other instrumentals), has a space-like essence to it that reverberates with unworldly images and sounds. Each transition is as smooth and seamless as glass as Ian takes us through the various stages of “Quevlar’s Journey.” Yet another nearly prefect show of musicianship and talent.

The next song, “Cold Rain,” is a melancholy piece of music with guitar work that could rival David Gilmour. This is a sad song that gives me chills and the lyrics are heartbreakingly beautiful. Ian shows off his vocal talent exceedingly well in this song, but there is something going on in the background. There are words being said, as if through a phone with a bad connection. Try as I might, I can’t quite hear what is being said in the background. I can pick out a word here and there, but I can’t get it all. “Cold Rain” is probably my favorite song so far, and I wish I could hear what that odd and alien voice is saying.

“Forever Today” starts off dramatically. The short intro reminds of an old black and white movie and I can’t even say exactly why. It sounds very ominous, but once the song gets going, that ominous feeling fades. It doesn’t leave completely, it just fades a little. Ian’s voice holds a touch of urgency and the piano seems to add to this feeling. The lyrics too give us a feeling that something either terrifically great or terribly tragic is about to happen.

Song eleven, “Trouble Free,” has some excellent piano work to take us into the soft, swaying beat and the calming vocals. This is a great song to listen to enclosed in someone’s arms, feeling fine and free. “Trouble Free” is one of those warm-n-fuzzy songs that just seem to make the day a little better and perhaps brighter than it was before. I especially enjoy the break at around the three minute mark when we think the song is over, but not yet. Ian takes us into some stellar instrumental work and then comes back strong with the closing of “Trouble Free.”

The song “Raid 5” is another instrumental that showcases the undeniable talent of Ian Narcisi and the other musicians. This song has a bit of a twist to it though, and we are taken into the future for a brief moment with the almost creepy sounding voices of what appear to be robots. It definitely has a sci-fi feel to it, while still managing to maintain the melodic mastery that the rest of the album radiates.

The closing song, “Violet And Blue,” sums up the album Weight Of The Words perfectly. It’s slightly melancholy, a bit space aged, and thoroughly and completely well done. Ian Narcisi is an artist of the highest regard and his album clearly shows this. I have rarely, if ever, heard an album in which the sound quality is as good as this. Weight Of The Words puts to shame some big name acts who can afford to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on top of the line recording equipment. And who knows? Maybe Ian did too, but I don’t think so. I think Ian simply knows what sounds good and has a talent that is nothing short of a gift. Weight Of The Words is an extremely well thought out album that sounds indescribably incredible.

Reviewed By Rhonda Readence