I have to admit that EELST (or, Elio e le Storie Tese') are a new name to me but they've, apparently "been a cult band within the Italian underground music scene for many years." What else does the press blurb tell us? Well, that they're pioneers of 'musica demenziale' - "a humorous, satirical style Rock/Pop music", and the band are "more than just a comedy act." Aligned with Frank Zappa "for their blend of styles, sounds and their dislike of stereotypes", along with an ever so slightly deranged album cover, my intrigue was stirred good and proper. I adore crazy, offbeat music. On paper, EELST are definitely my kind of thing. So, with a 28 track double album "best of" compilation, it seems like the perfect opportunity to experience the cream of the crop for just what these Italians have to offer. Or would it prove to be the cream of the flop?
Further press blurb states: "This two hours collection of their best moments will be a revelation for everybody who wants music to surprise and escape the obvious." The 28 tracks on the wonderfully titled 'Yes We Can't' certainly live up to such a statement. Nothing could have prepared me for the actual listening experience. This bunch of nutters offer up a musically deranged tour de force of humongously crazy proportions. Is it any good? Yes... no... I don't actually know. I've listened to this a few times through and, I have to say, depending on the mood this has caught me in has very much seemed to dictate my enjoyment levels. I've been left bewildered (in good and bad ways), frustrated, annoyed, overjoyed, amused, and in awe. If music's purpose is to provoke a variety of emotional responses in the listener - negative, positive and just plain ambivalence - then EELST have achieved this to perfection.
So many styles and so much craziness. This is a lot to digest, both in terms of quantity, breadth and musical insanity. And skill level. Nothing could also have prepared me for the high level of virtuosity that colours many passages of the music. These guys have some serious talent. As much as it's crazy, it's equal parts virtuosic and musically intriguing. At times, songs sound like the soundtrack to Channel 4's cult TV show, 'Eurotrash', but with a serious injection of prog rock prowess. Can you imagine that? Fucked up, yes? Of course. And you'd only be part way there to understanding just what to expect on listening to EELST.
With the band set to tour peripheral to their home country for the very first time during their lengthy career, it looks like these nutters will be able to spread their sonic madness further afield. I adore uncategorisable music. This is the epitome of that. There only ever should be two genres to consider - music you like and music you don't. I happen to like EELST very much.
YES WE CAN'T
Review by Mark Holmes
63:25 + 64:43
3rd March 2017
CD1: 1) Milza; 2) Ritmo Sbilenco; 3) Cartoni Animati Giapponesi; 4) Parco Sempione; 5) Pipppero; 6) Gargaroz; 7) Come Gli Area; 8) Bomba Intelligente; 9) Lo Stato A, Lo Stato B; 10) First Me Second Me; 11) Mio Cuggino; 12) John Holmes (una vita per il cinema); 13) Pagāno; 14) La Chanson
CD2: 1) Plafone; 2) Supermassiccio; 3) Psichedelia; 4) La Canzone Mononota; 5) Cani E Padroni Di Cani; 6) L'eterna Lotta Tra Il Bene E Il Male; 7) Heavy Samba; 8) Ocio Ocio; 9) Il Rock And Roll; 10) Caro 2000; 11) Christmas With The Yours; 12) La Vendetta Del Fantasma Formaggino; 13) La Terra Dei Cachi; 14) ...
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"This bunch of nutters offer up a musically deranged tour de force of humongously crazy proportions."