CD REVIEW: Patrizia - Defiance
By Ashley Petkovski - 01/26/2003 - 01:52 AM EST
The first opera I ever witnessed was Madame Butterfly, a typical first for any young woman raised on disco and in love with Bronski Beat. What I knew of opera I never really enjoyed. It was beautiful music showcasing vocalists with stunning capabilities, romantic and dramatic in a thoroughly orchestrated, technical, cold-fish kind of way. There was nothing, absolutely nothing to pull me in and keep my attention. Too much of it sounded calculated, and there was no passion to come and sweep me off of my Doc Marten clad feet. The same went for Patrizia – well, most of it – until she discovered Maria Callas, the legendary soprano renowned for her talents and delivery. From that point on, Patrizia discovered a passion for her own kind of opera. Fusing her four-octave voice with bottom heavy-hard rock and harnessing the passion of her operatic idols, along with the seductive drive of John Bonham and John Paul Jones, “Defiance” is an aptly titled album of redefinition and renewal.
Transcending the boundaries of language and genre, Patrizia utilizes the soaring, delicate beauty of classic arias by the likes of Bellini and Bicet and zips them up in a ratty leather jacket. The light and dark come together on “Defiance,” breathing and beating new life into the classics. Patrizia sings with passion and unhindered power, the raw emotions of the songs coming through. The simple song titles– “Temptation,” “Fury,” “Ecstasy,” and “Desperation” to name a few - mirror the emotions and psychological states that Patrizia’s voice is capable of reflecting and sharing with her listenership. Even on the slower numbers, she never loses the tough, sexy edge in her voice, allowing the standards to fit her vision.
Musically, the thundering darkness of full-throttle rock & roll is the perfect counterpart to the pitch and tonality of the vocals. Sludgy guitar work provides the necessary jagged ferociousness, and, along with the keyboard work, particularly on “Devotion” and “Desperation,” provides the lilting contrast to the down tempo vocal part. The real edge in Patrizia’s ‘Alternative Rock Opera’ comes from the rhythm section. Akin to the unfaltering sensuality of the aforementioned Led Zeppelin duo, they provide the apt amount of trippy atmosphere or the fiery onslaught of rhythmic brutality. Regardless of the song, regardless of the moment, the rhythm is sensual and dramatic, moving minute-by-minute, providing the perfect consistency and splendor. Likely due to production, there is a slight unintentional buzz on the drum tracks during “Forgiveness” and “Desperation,” but they’re only prevalent if the music is turned up reasonably loud.
Although I have little to no grasp on the lyrics, my Italian being limited to two words, I can pick up most of “Defiance,” one of two songs that Patrizia wrote the lyrics to. The higher she sings, the more unintelligible the words are. In this case, however, the music is absolutely all that matters. And matter, it does. Crossing boundaries not crossed often enough, Patrizia makes her musical concept of ‘Alternative Rock Opera’ work with incredible majesty. Hard, dark and beautiful (to steal lovingly from Dark Harmonies, a favourite radio show of mine), “Defiance” is a precious and rare album; it’s pure power capable of making an impact on anyone who happens to cross it’s path. Maria Callas was Patrizia’s gateway to opera, and Patrizia may just be mine.
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