A ritual is described as a religious ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. A ritual contains highly stylized events, and so it seems highly appropriate that Sedona based guitarist Anthony Mazzella entitles his new release, "Ritual".
Mr. Mazzella was born and raised just 30 miles outside of New York City, however, one would never know it listening to his new work, as it takes the listener on an expedition around the world. The guitarist weaves together a journey of 11 colorful tracks, taking the traveler to many different places, meeting many different people; indeed the music has a lot to say - its so full of life, that at times one could feel a desire to write a story about the scenes that unfold throughout the listen.
'Venus', the opening track, is a fiery, emotional start. Mr. Mazzella immediately places us perfectly in the middle of Spain. It is a passionate, hand clapping, foot stomping piece that immediately perks up the listeners ears. It is a dance song for sure, and you will hear Spanish folksong while imagining animated footwork reflecting the rhythm of the guitar and percussion.
There seems to be an ode to the great cultural influence of Jamaica in 'As She Sleeps' . Close your eyes and you can hear those steel drums, those reggae rhythms, while relaxing on the warm beach.
The 3rd track is entitled 'Southbound' but Mr. Mazzella could have just as well named it 'South of the Border'. We are instantly plunged into Mexico. This song has such a rich flavor that we could associate with the culture of Mexico. The zest of the language, the warmth of the people, the tastes of the cuisine. Its all right here. There are shades of riding horseback, through those dusty plains, and realizing that for many, Mexico is home.
Mr. Mazzella doesn't stop at Mexico. How about a trip to Egypt? 'Infinite Hunger' definitely stirs up something deep, something massive. I thought to myself, 'Are we at the great pyramid of Giza, staring up into the sky, wondering?' You will hear Egypt, imagine a Sphinx, and see the snakes be charmed.
'The Bridge To The East' seems to point right towards the Middle East. Mr. Mazzella throws us in the middle of a crowded bazaar, perhaps somewhere in Persia. You can almost smell the incense in the air, hear the sounds of the crowds, taste the flavor of the foods in the marketplace. What is for sale? Only Mr. Mazzella knows for sure, but I would suggest whatever it is, its tempting.
Perhaps 'Sun Ritual' is Mr. Mazzella's way of pointing out that if the sun doesn't rise, we do not rise. This song is clearly his homage to the fireball in the sky that allows us to live. We really worship the sun.
The listener can not help hearing Albeniz in the opening of the track, 'Lifting the Veil' but it doesn't really stop there. Mr. Mazzella demonstrates a virtuosic flair in the track. Its a driving piece that really has a push to it, and Mr. Mazzella shows how comfortable he can be playing an electric guitar as well as his acoustic instruments. There is some technical prowess in the track that was quite impressive.
The half Celtic - half Moroccan influenced 'The Way Home' is quite an interesting track. I wondered what Mr. Mazzella was realizing when he wrote the track. We clearly start off near the Cliffs of Moher, but yet there Arabic shades of the Moors of Northern Africa. By the time the track has finished, the listener arrives in a frenzy of Mizwid. You listen close and you'll hear Uilleann bagpipes in Marrakesh.
'Remember The Dream' is a gorgeous, but haunting piece, and it really does sound like a dream forgotten. Perhaps that is the point that Mr. Mazzella was trying to make. So many times we awake from a wonderful dream and then quickly forget it. For all one knows, Mr. Mazzella could be instructing the listener to try to remember the dream, because soon it may be gone forever.
The album appropriately finishes with a towering piece. It is curious that Mr. Mazzella entitled it 'Ritual Moon'. In this case, Mr. Mazzella does not pay homage to the moon, but uses the moon as a prop in a ritual for something else. I can only gather that this piece is related to "Sun Ritual'. Perhaps the ritual of the sun has passed and has given way to the risen moon, all the while preparing for break of dawn, when that first ray will return. On a personal note, as I was driving the other night to a full moon near the winter equinox, this track seemed to fit so perfectly, almost as a soundtrack to what I was observing as that full moon lie just above the horizon. Mr. Mazzella wisely chooses an appropriate finale to his magnificent work.
'Ritual' is a highly recommended work. Its unquestionably, what a great work of art is supposed to do. It will bring you to many fascinating places, and introduce you to many colorful people. For those of you who can not afford the airfare to take a trip around the world, perhaps Mr. Mazzella's album is the next best thing...
By Frank Ruggiero of GenuineDynamite.com