Habitat - Puente
Puentes (Bridge) (3:51), Sacando Punta (Sharping a Pencil) (4:30), Requiem (2:23), Juguetes Durante El Dia (Daytime Toys) (6:26), Labradora Espacial (Space Farmer) (5:29), La Enamorada Del Juglar (The Troubadour's Love) (2:22), Tema Para "Universo Limbo" (Theme for "Universo Limbo") (2:51), La Ultima De Las Aranas Buenas (The Last Good Spiders) (8:08), Guardianes Del Jardin (Guards of Garden) (4:47)
Habitat - Tratando De Respirar En La Furia
La Luna Roja Y La Montaña Negra (Red Moon and Black Mountain) (6:52), El Humo Delator (The Denouncer Smoke) (4:43), Periplo (Periplus) (3:27), Lenguaje Y Ámbar (Language and Amber) (3:50), Torres (Towers) (6:27), Detenido Por El Viento (Held By The Wind) (5:42), Las Musgosas Rocas Del Muelle (The Mossy Rocks of the Pier) (3:50) , Desde Una Ventana Del Castillo (Out Looking from A Castle's Window) (3:10), Pastores De Renos (Reindeer's Shepherds) (9:12), Juego De Niña (Gioco Di Bimba) (5:17)
Habitat - Utensilios Y Artilugios
Las Gárgolas (The Gargoyles) (5:31), La Persecución de la Nave Errante (The Persecution of the Wandering Ship) (4:47), Mujer-Medusa (Medusa-Woman) (3:34), Las Hadas Negras (The Dark Fairies) (7:00), Las Runas (The Runes) (7:22), Tema para los Campos Exhaustos (Theme for the Exhausted Fields) (6:38), Las Masas de Agua (Water Bodies) (5:28), El hombre con Navidad en Sus Labios (The Man with Christmas in His Lips) (4:01), Ajr (3:58), Pasaje a la Ciudad Oculta con Runas -Alpina- (Passage to the Hidden City with Runes) (6:56), Utensilios y Artilugios (Utensils and Craftiness) (4:14)
When the band began life in the early 1980s they were pretty much a democratic unit but following the release of their debut CD Historias Olvidadas in 1998, Pinelli has increasingly exerted his control over the band's output. At the time of writing I've was unable to find any trace of Habitat's website therefore I've included a link to Pinelli's homepage although curiously he makes no reference to the band, only his solo work. (Edit: in an email, Aldo Pinelli gave us the URL for the official Habitat website, which is now the destination for the Info links above.)
Released in 2006, Puente ('Bridge' in English) is the band's third album and is performed for the most part by the trio of Pinelli (bass, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, percussion, keyboards), Ricardo Henestronoza (keyboards) and Mario Pugliese (drums). The band's guitarist from the first two albums Enrique Hittos plays lute on one track, a solo piece recorded live in September 2000. The rest of the album was recorded between March 2003 and August 2006. Roberto Sambrizzi who also played on the earlier albums provides the drums on two tracks and Juani Guzzo additional keyboards on three tracks.
Sound wise, Peter Gabriel era Genesis are clearly an influence as are Italian bands like Banco and Le Orme. Pinelli sings in a high register but he's no Jon Anderson. His singing is flat and unengaging and his imitation of Gabriel's distinctive vibrato during the patchy Sacando Punta was a bad idea. Instrumentally however the band is strong although I was impressed more by the individual parts (e.g. the symphonic keyboards of Requiem and the acoustic ambiance of La Ultima De Las Aranas Buenas) than I was the sum of those parts. The live piece I mentioned La Enamorada Del Juglar is nicely played by Hittos but it's a poor recording so its inclusion here is baffling. The concluding Guardianes Del Jardin owes a conspicuous debt to at least two Genesis tunes, Watcher Of The Skies (the staccato rhythm pattern) and The Fountain Of Salmacis (the guitar theme).
When the fourth album Tratando De Respirar En La Furia ('Trying to breathe amidst fury') followed in 2010, Habitat had shrunk to a duo, namely Aldo Pinelli (electric, classical & acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion, vocals) and Roberto Sambrizzi (drums, percussion). It's more cohesive than its predecessor due in part to Pinelli's command of the instrumentation and the fact that it was composed and recorded in a shorter time frame. It also benefits from Sambrizzi's superb drumming. Pinelli seems to have got Genesis out of his system although traditional Italian and South American prog is still very much in evidence.
Pinelli's singing is more refined this time around (or it could just be I'm getting used to his voice) although for my tastes several tracks are too vocally dependent. The album features some fine instrumentals however, especially the opening La Luna Roja Y La Montaña Negra which showcases Pinelli's strengths to the full with a memorable melody to boot. The near 10 minute Pastores De Renos is really two separate songs (and a short classical guitar solo) masquerading as one but it works nonetheless. The 'bonus track' Juego De Niña is an adaptation of Le Orme's 1972 song Gioco Di Bimba and apart from the obvious difference (it's sung in Spanish rather than Italian) the bombastic guitar section is a major departure from the blissful charm of the original. Incidentally, Italian band Pooh released an excellent version of this song in 2008.
That brings us to Habitat's most recent album Utensilios Y Artilugios (which curiously translates into English as 'Utensils and Craftiness') released in 2014. Once again it features the duo of Aldo Pinelli and Roberto Sambrizzi joined this time by guest musicians Elizabeth Minervini (keyboards) and Gonzalo Albarracín (guitar).
Las Gárgolas opens promisingly with the majestic sound of a cathedral organ but the song itself is nothing special. Once again it's the indifferent vocals that often let the side down although the uplifting Mujer-Medusa is a near perfect balance of (Steve Hackett style) guitar, synth and singing. The mysterious Las Hadas Negras features some interesting percussive keyboard effects although at 7 minutes it outstays its welcome as does the low-key Las Runas. As with previous albums there are plenty of interesting parts throughout such as a majestic keyboard flourish here and a memorable guitar break there (not to mention Sambrizzi's 4 minute drum solo) but the overall impression is a succession of random bits where the joints are clearly visible. To end on a positive note, the lively title track with its sublime guitar and organ work is one of Habitat's best ever efforts and an excellent instrumental. Given that their website is not currently available it's difficult to say what the current state of affairs are in the Habitat camp but as far Aldo Pinelli is concerned, his solo endeavours are very much work in progress as revealed in the following review.
Conclusions Geoff Feakes:
Puente: 5.5 out of 10
Tratando De Respirar En La Furia: 6.5 out of 10
Utensilios Y Artilugios: 6 out of 10
Aldo Pinelli - Tremporada de Lluvias
Temporada de Lluvias / Rainy Season (4:59), Observando por sobre los charcos / Watching Over the Puddles (3:17), Pasaje Siete / Passage Seven (2:21), Mujer Con Paraguas (con la cara mojada) / Woman with Umbrella (with the Wet Face) (2:25), Avenidas Invernales / Winter Avenues (4:46), Estudio 4 / Etude 4 (3:09), Los que Nadan / Whose Swimming (5:04), La Primavera que ilego despues (Danza) / Spring Came Afterwards (Dance) (3:15), Baltico / Baltic (3:44), Sporesa de Agua / Water Surprise (2:01), Si la Iluvia Pudiese / If the Rain Could (4:37), Arroyos Desboradodos: Los Technos de las Casas de los Pobres / Overflooded Streams: Poor House's Roofs (2:37), Llueve Sobre el Mar / Is Raining Over the Sea) (4:54), Una Casa de te en Gaiman / A Tea House in Gaiman (3:23), La Iluvia Habla / Rain Talks (3:15), La Cumbre, un Pueblo Entre Sierras / La Cumbre, a Village Between Hills (4:41)
Pinelli provides his usual array of instrumentation (electric, classical & acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion and vocals) supported by Paula Dolcera (flutes, cello), Silvia Pratolongo (percussion) plus Roberto Sambrizzi (drums) and Elizabeth Minervini (piano) who both worked with Pinelli in Habitat.
Given the track titles there is clearly a watery theme (or perhaps I should say watery stream!) running through the album. The English translations above are not mine by the way; they are as they appear on the CD sleeve so I make no apology for accuracy. The lyrics are as you would expect in Spanish although the majority of the tracks are instrumental which is perhaps not a bad thing given the limitations of Pinelli's voice.
The title track is a surprisingly tranquil opener based around a simple but effective piano theme accompanied by keys, classical guitar, flute and cello. In fact the whole album is very low key with bass and drums appearing only fleetingly. Several tracks including Pasaje Siete and Estudio 4 are little more than acoustic guitar pieces with sparse accompaniment bringing Anthony Phillips' Private Parts & Pieces collection to mind although to my ears they lack the compositional flair of the ex. Genesis guitarist. The atmospheric Baltico on the other hand is memorable conjuring up images of snow and ice whilst the haunting Llueve Sobre el Mar benefits from sampled choral effects. Pinelli saves the best till last with La Cumbre, un Pueblo Entre Sierras with its electric guitar theme proving to be a satisfying closer.
This album is certainly a departure from Pinelli's work with Habitat being less proggy in style and although not quite ambient the mood is mellow and at times very sombre. In 2013 he released his most recent album Suite Italiana (Italian Suite) which by all accounts is closer to the style of Habitat.
Geoff Feakes: 6 out of 10