First of all, it must be noted that “Symmetria” has some truly stunning artwork and packaging, something that can seldom be said of most CD releases. Featuring intricate ink drawings and letterpress design, not to mention lengthy excerpts of spiritual texts, there is plenty to ponder while taking in the sounds of this album.
As a listening experience, “Symmetria” is also quite dense. Steve Uccello, the gentleman behind this project, is clearly a gifted bass player and multi-instrumentalist, and his talents span numerous styles and genres. Aside from the requisite grandiosity, quite typical of album blurbs, it is worth printing the statement provided on the fold-out poster that comes in this album as it does lend some clarity to Uccello’s intent:
Fourteen songs, weaving golden darkness with otherworldly joy, unfold. Seamlessly, canopies of free form Jazz give way to mystical Folk , and passages of languid Prog become swarming Baroque lines. We sojourn over oceans of horse hair on gut drone, through labyrinths, to islands dreaming of pirillated flora and fauna. This is music of an imaginal America: where the erotic lounge of the fifties is forged with the Psych of the sixties, and Chinese masters of the ancient Guqin strum in bayous alongside the first practitioners of the Blues. Uccello Project travels deep into the earth, where roots of distant musical lineages converge.
Apart from sounding like a Dungeons & Dragons adventure, this statement does highlight the multitude of styles that course through “Symmetria”, sometimes within individual songs. The more rock-leaning, groove-based moments, like in “Garnet Film” and “Place of Seven Turns”, have a whiff of early Tortoise in them, but Uccello is more prone to detouring into non-Western tones.
While I can appreciate the high-level of musicianship on display here, I have a difficult time fully getting behind “Symmetria”. Much of this sounds a bit overly studied and a bit too polished for my tastes, bearing a sort of New Age/Bass Player Magazine sensibility that is lost on me. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a bass player or Dungeon Master though. 6/10 -- David Perron (10 February, 2010)