Unalei – Galatea

Posted 180121

Review by Erik Neuteboom.

 

This is an Italian musical project by multi-instrumentalist Karim Federico Sanna (vocals, drums, piano, guitar, ocarina, flute, tambourin, djembe and bongo), he was born and raised in Rome with a Tunesian father and an Italian mother. At about 10 years old he started to study drums and singing, he loved Italian and foreign rock and pop (and even more the soundtracks of anime, video games and animated films), and at the age of 14 he became passionate about metal. In 2011 Karim began his study in musicology at the University of Rome (which Karim still carries on today). Between 2011 and 2013 he played in 3 different groups (the music ranges from doomjazz and experimental to Italian indie rock). In those days he also started the Unalei project, the first two Unalei albums A Sua Immagine (2014) and Taedium Vitae (2017) are inspired by sentimental stories, films and readings about the psychological relationship with the other sex. A Sua Immagine was recorded in 2013 but published in 2014 because Karim left for a year in Spain to study at Salamanca Conservatory and in the meantime he deepened the culture of flamenco. In Spain he wrote a large part of Taedium Vitae and in 2017 started studying orchestration and cinematic composition with maestro Dario Vero. Between 2018 and 2019 he played gamelan as a percussionist at the Indonesian embassy in Rome.

Karim is now presenting his new album entitled Galatea (2020), he has invited several guest musicians: Fabio Fraschini (bass), Dario Vero (orchestrations, slide guitar, Glockenspiel), Federica Catalano (vocals), Massimiliano Pagliuso (guitar solo on Gloria), Natalia Lapshina (story telling on Aurea mediocritas), Alessandro Sforza (vocals on Livida), and a choir. About the Galatea concept Karim explains. “This could be described as a searching for an existence and a lifestyle that is an end in itself through the rediscovery and deep knowledge of the blood roots: bucolic and rural. A search for inner serenity. At the same time, enjoying life at all times and turn it into a work of art by finding something special and magical at every moment of every day and giving it a deep, precisely  aesthetic meaning. The element which connects all people and ethnic groups, the truly unique “social network" of this world has always been the sea, the water. This represents the circularity, the unity that water creates on our Earth. Any place can be a departure and an arrival.”

What a wonderful music, to me it sounds intense, refined, elaborate, and, last but not least, the Italian vocals are outstanding! Most songs are between dreamy, mellow and slow rhythms, embellished with tasteful and varied work on a wide range of instruments. From sensitive to howling electric guitar, strong high pitched vocals and pleasant keyboard work in The Little Matchgirl.  A beautiful blend of twanging electric guitar, female vocals, fretless bass and the distinctive ocarina flute in the dreamy Azalea. Delicate interplay between keyboards and flute in the short and mellow Portagioie. And tender Grand piano runs in the opener La Bussola.

Some tracks deliver more dynamics. Like Gloria featuring a captivating musical encounter between acoustic – and electric instruments. As an ‘aficionado’ I love the sound of the flamenco rhythm guitar and the palmas (handclapping), wonderfully blended with exciting electric guitar, from sensitive to howling and heavy, wow!

My highlight is the longest track Lola (5:29). It starts with the voice of a child, then a mid-tempo with orchestral keyboards and female and male vocals, accompanied by a tight beat. Halfway an  eruption with heavy guitar and sumptuous keyboards, a choir and howling guitar runs. Next a serie of flowing and subtle shifting moods (from dreamy to bombastic), very tastefully arranged, with lots of fine musical ideas. The passionate female and male vocals add a strong element to the music, topped with again wonderful work on keyboards and guitar. What a captivating musical experience!

Unalei presents four different languages on this album, like story telling in Russian with beautiful classical orchestrations in the very short Aurea Mediocritas (close to 1 minute).

 My first musical encounter with Unalei has turned into a very pleasant musical experience.