Luca Zamberlin, who has lived in the UK for years and has just recently come back to Italy, is proud of cooperating with several notorious names on the music scene – you just need to think about his militant contribution to Driveshift alongside Cozy Powell, Neil Murray, John Sinclair. The list would be too long, so I invite you to have a look at the artistic career of the artist.
Mad for It is an entirely instrumental album, which hosts as special guest the great American (even though of English origin) drummer Atma Anur, known for his previous experiences with Jason Becker, Tony MacAlpine, Cacophony, Greg Howe, Richie Kotzen and many, many others. On bass it features the renown instrumentalist Piero Trevisan, whose background includes excellent collaborations, such as the one with Steve Saluto, who is also present on this album as a guest.
There is no doubt in my mind that they should be awarded for the very high level of production on this CD. Kudos to Carlo Zundo, another well known guitarist in the Venetian area who was involved in the production process. His contribution to the mastering of the CD is absolutely in line throughout the album, as his approach is fresh and free from the standardization of sounds that nowadays makes albums pretty much similar to one another. You can hear everything just fine: the guitars, track by track, the bass lines, and the drum sounds are absolutely natural! I don’t think one may expect anything less from excellent production.
Two songs have to be mentioned, “Cup of Tea or Cup of Coffee” and “Big country”, which have been written by Luca especially for the great Londoner guitarist of Welsh origin Shaun Baxter. Luca has attended his metal guitar masterclasses at the Guitar Institute of Acton (London) from 1989 to 1991, and has privately studied with him, a chance which is reserved to very few, between 1993 and 2000.
My general view on their work on this album is that it is an exquisitely technical record. I do not use the term “exquisitely” by chance, as here the listeners can find a particular music taste and a groove which are rarely found on instrumental albums. Zamberlin switches naturally from rock blues sounds – winking at the best Mr Big’s ones- to the more neo-classical, Malmsteen-style sound, and further still to acoustic ballads, exquisitely reminding one of a Led Zeppelin touch (particularly the “White Summer” cover that closes the record).
Atma Anur on drums is simply superb: a drummer who really has the groove in his veins. Right from the first listening, which is usually easy, he has a simple but not in the least trivial style, which makes us discover a kind of noble technicity that was somehow not entirely spotted at first, and that seems to deepen with every new listening. After analyzing the record you realize that the “simplicity” that was transmitted from the first listening was given exclusively by his incredible ability to perform highly technical things without making them invasive throughout the track. This is what people call “class” and this is not just any drummer’s mark.
The bass is precise and punctual in every song, going away from the usual contemporary anonymity of the last years’ productions. This hits the spot, as it is definitely the perfect glue for Zamberlin and Atma Anur’s project. It often happens that, while listening to a particularly pleasant passage in a song, you realize that it is precisely the bass that makes the difference.
And now a closer look at the songs. The record opens with “Hacipaci Boogie”, a song that immediately catches you, and carries you away with its groove that you just can’t resist. The sounds coming together in the melody are fresh and modern, and this makes the song an absolutely delightful listening. It is followed by the more rocky and bluesy Mad 4 It. You can’t help stamping your foot to the rhythm as you enjoy the waterfall shades of Luca’s exquisite solo bearing witness to his technical and compositional prowess.
When “Cup of Tea or Cup of Coffee” strikes, it sticks into your mind immediately, thanks to the main riff, very pleasant and catchy, spaced out by some killer licks perfectly intersecting within the track, giving it sometimes a harder line, without taking you away from the melody which captures you from the first listen. “Spaced Out” is the fourth song, which definitely stands out among the others. It has an
absolutely enthralling solo part on a very ethereal base, which allows the listener to enjoy the imaginative side of Luca’s creativity.
“C.T.P.” takes us back, placing our feet firm on the ground.
This is a rocky song, a tribute to Malmsteen’s neoclassicism, which will be appreciated by lovers of a more metal virtuosity, made even more precious by the optimal cellist JurJ Luisetto. Speed, technique and virtuosity are the key words here. With one song Luca Zamberlin wipes out any doubt on his skills. And this is only one “episode” in a whole series within the album, an episode which for sure hits the nail on the head.
With “Binge Blues” the listener is taken back to a groove similar to the ones opening the album, even if, this time, a few shades closer to metal as a genre. I can’t help thinking about some of the best songs by Mr Big, even though there is a characteristic mark throughout the entire Mad 4 It album: the skill in making different sounds combine together perfectly.
Some of the best songs on the album, with the amazing Atma Anur behind the drums, of course, are the three ballads closing the album. “Here and Now”, where, once again, Luca is accompanied by JurJ Luisetto’s cello, gives us a pleasant and moving song as a present. It is a reflective song that relaxes the listener’s mind and brings him or her into the right mood to go on with the listening of the last pieces. One notices a changing of gears towards the end of the album, which says goodbye to the more rocky side to take one to a little more reflective path paving the way to “Big Country”. Now is when one can lit a cigarette and sip a drink, thinking about all the songs previously listened to. “White Summer” is a short Led Zeppelin tribute: only 1 minute and 30 seconds long, but with a closing theme that rounds off the album.
So far, thinking back to the sequence of songs in the album the listener realizes that nothing has been left to chance. Mad 4 It is an album of great depth, melodic and complete. Neither too long for the listeners to get bored (the serious risk of exclusively instrumental works) nor too short for them to feel disappointed. With Mad for it, Luca Zamberlin re-introduces himself on the stage in great style. I recommend this album to all good music lovers, great aspiring guitarists still in school, as well as to any other interested listeners.