STEPS, 15 songs only one musical instrument.
You can find it at minute 1:40 of “Just Kidding”, the first track. A piano plays just a few seconds, a soft, tip-toe accompaniment. And that’s it.
No guitars, no drums, no keyboards, nothing but voices. But unquestionably you will not miss any traditional instrument, as those five voices are everything but traditional: Cluster’s sound is something fresh, original, astonishing, and yet enjoyable by everyone. We can say it is a melting pot in many different ways.
Steps is their first album published with E8 Records. It is probably their best LP ever: Cement’s first track was the beautiful Giant Steps, and “giant steps” is definitely what they did both in their amazing vocal techniques than in the refinement of the arrangements.
The first song is Just Kidding, by Michel Camilo, Dominican pianist and composer who worked with Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Tito Puente and George Benson. As we said at the beginning, after this first track you can forget instruments and everything you know about accompaniments, and let yourself discover a whole new grammar – a whole new vocabulary – in the music language.
Just Kidding is followed by Steps, first of the six unpublished songs written by the group: Could it be, the delicate Simple Words, Fake, Unthought and 224 (the lyric of this last one are the beautiful verses of the homonymous poem by Emily Dickinson).
The other covers are all quality choices: Mi sono innamorato di te was written by the late lamented Italian songwriter Luigi Tenco. Cluster’s version is tight and emotional, and made precious by a breath-taking vocal sax. One Note Samba (Antonio Carlos Jobim) is surprising and innovative. I Wish (Stevie Wonder) is bright and powerful, and it is one of the songs which granted Cluster’s success as X Factor competitors. Spain (Chick Corea) sounds fresh, brilliant and syncopated. Love of my Life (Queen) and Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley) are probably the most touching songs of the LP, while Comencar de novo (The Island) previously performed by Barbra Streisand, sung in Portuguese, surprises us with a smooth, romantic atmosphere. The sweet Time after Time (Cindy Lauper) and a ghost track we won’t reveal are the last songs of the album.
15 songs. Only one imperfection: too brief.