An Italian, a Mexican, and an Austrian walk into a bar…well, okay, not a bar, but a music school, in London. And so this is not the beginning of a joke but the beginning of the band Vadoinmessico, a multi-national quintet that remains based in the UK. And you can really hear the non-English-speaking sensibility here, even as front man Giorgio Poti (the aforementioned Italian) sings in English. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something in either the vibe, at once relaxed and kinetic, or the instrumental mix (note the lack of a rock-style drum kit), or both, that feels like nothing a purely American or British band would create or deliver.
And wow I’ve been bumping into these songs with banjos and/or pedal steel guitars in them lately and here’s another one, this time with both, and if some blogger somewhere calls this a country song I shall emit an electronic scream. Vadoinmessico offers up the self-description of “mediterranean alternative folk,” and sure, why not? I love the easy-going assurance of the melody, which is at once amorphous and ear-grabbing. There’s not a clear hook, there’s no immediately obvious verse/chorus division, and what does in the end amount to the chorus (heard just twice, the first time from 1:00 to 1:15) slips by without fuss and without resolution. What’s more, the verses themselves are hard to differentiate, and seem to center upon a repeated melody that is launched off the second beat of the measure with a string of repeated notes. The wonderful allure of the piece has first of all to do with the slight variations this melody undergoes after the consistency of the opening two measures, and then to do with the cumulative, almost hypnotic effect of this not-quite-repetition.
Note in particular the new melodic upturn we hear first at around 1:17, with a match at 1:25. We take it in as pleasant enough at that point, but when this particular variation returns as Poti sings (2:38) “Everybody please wait for me here by the river,” with the half-step ascent on the words “here by the,” we seem somehow to have arrived at the muted epicenter of the song. It feels like a payoff as long as you don’t concentrate too much, like something you can see only with peripheral vision.
“Teeo” is the third single released by the band, which has yet to put out an official album or EP.