New Music

Breaking down the Avant-Garde: SAN LEO’s ‘Aves Raras’

2 mins read

Whisked away on a sonorous journey by San Leo, listeners are invited to traverse the intricacies of ‘Aves Raras,’ a narrative woven in sound, hailing from the vibrant heart of Italy. Released on November 17th, 2023, by Bronson Recordings, this is not just an album; it’s an odyssey spanning genres of heavy psych, drone, and krautrock.

San Leo, an Italian experimental rock duo formed in 2013 in Rimini, crafts a soundscape that is both mesmerizing and jarring. The members, inserirefloppino (drums) and m tabe (guitar, etc.), delve into the realms of hypnotic grooves and visions, blending incendiary intensity with understated minimalism.

Their latest album, ‘Aves Raras,’ is a testament to their journey through diverse musical landscapes, from psychedelic folk to metal, krautrock, ambient, and noise.

Recorded with the finesse of Andrea Scardovi at Duna Studio and mixed by the Grammy and Emmy-winning producer Francesco Donadello, ‘Aves Raras‘ is a masterpiece of sound engineering. The album, mastered by Giovanni Versari at La Maestà (famed for his work with Muse), is a sonic expedition that defies conventional categorization.

SAN LEO by James W. Catrozzi
SAN LEO by James W. Catrozzi

Delving deeper into the labyrinthine sounds of ‘Aves Raras‘, we present an exclusive track-by-track commentary, illuminating the intricate layers and artistic vision behind each piece of this epic album.

ARIES’ is the main track from ‘Aves Raras’. Clocking in at almost 20 minutes, the piece features the duo diving into a maelstrom of pure sound, conjuring up a feverish trance. Here’s San Leo turning radical, minimal elements (incessant bass drum and bass synth pulse, one-note cascades of guitars) into flourishing variations, exploring high pitch percussive patterns and glimmers of melodies and alien vocals. A staple of the band’s live set, ‘ARIES’ flows through echoes of genres and influences without ever settling in a fixed category, giving the feeling of being both surrounded by quicksand and soaring through interstellar transcendence.

J!OY’ is a burst of kinetic energy, a scream from the soul filled with urgency and elation. Based on a frantic drum groove and incessant crossfire of guitar lines, the sonic assault adds up some phantasmal vocals. The melodic guitar line is strangely cheerful as a call to break away from habits, embrace one’s own weirdness.


FUTURA 2000’ hits like an interstellar trip, showcasing an unheard side of San Leo’s experimental attitude, even more mysterious yet playful at the same time. Relying more on samples than heavy-hitting guitars, the band pushes deeper into the radical rhythmical concept of the album, shifting the focus towards geometrical abstraction. Enriched by the mixing touch of sonic mastermind Francesco Donadello, the piece (titled after pioneer graffiti artist Futura 2000) flows between psychedelic layers of Carpenter-esque synthesizers and tape manipulation, drilling tribal grooves and tension-filled build-ups.

San Leo by Circolo letterario Beatnik
San Leo by Circolo letterario Beatnik

AL.AY’ pays homage to free jazz legend Albert Ayler. It’s the equivalent of a solar flare, a radical statement from San Leo, marking their territory where any song structure melts and turns back into pure sonic energy. Lashing cymbals, walls of guitars and shimmering synthesizers, an aural assault in perpetual search of catharsis in the eye of the storm. An underlying calm and soothing tonal soundscape, in contrast with the more impactful sonic elements.

Karol Kamiński

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
Contact via [email protected]

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