ENG Bird is the Worm, Dave Sumner (nov.2016)
There’s a constant tension that comes from thick melodies being torn in two directions. Piero Bittolo Bon’s Bread & Fox quintet has a heavy presence, and as sweet as their melodies are, the quintet brusquely shoves them around the song. Well, except when they don’t. There are times when the quintet treats those melodies like precious creatures, and devise a nurturing environment for them to grow to full bloom. It’s those two states of existence that are the reason for the wonderful tension of Big Hell On Air. Punchy cadences and harmonies that clear the room will suddenly blink out, replaced by gentle tempos and harmonies warm as morning sunlight.
And depending on which of those polar opposites reigns at any one particular time, the melody takes on the characteristics of its surroundings. With tracks like “Spice Girls From Arrakis” and “Gutkäfer Strut,” the melody comes out either like a sharp blade or capable of blunt force trauma. And with tracks like “Everything Works” and “Topinambur Topinamur,” the melody is a gentle lullaby, promising sweet dreams and restful sleep. But in each instance, those melodies are clear as day and, in some instances, border on catchy. And more often than not, the change of tone happens within the duration of an individual song, keeping the ear on its toes and constantly guessing what might come next.
There’s nothing conventional about this music. And based on past history, normalcy is not something one should expect from a Piero Bittolo Bon project. But an abiding characteristic of his challenging music is that Bon makes it easy connect to with it, and the only obstacle is in figuring out what the hell is going on. And that “obstacle” is also what makes this challenging music seriously fun.