Italian bassist Alberto Rigoni has become prominent in the progressive metal genre in the last several years, and he especially has garnered attention in the bass world as well. Having worked earlier with his band Twinspirits and the ensemble Lady and THE BASS, Alberto ventured nowadays into creating solo works, and Overloaded is his 4th solo album. Again with this album, Mr. Rigoni recruited top-notch musicians to play with him on the album, including fellow Italians Denis Novello on drums, Federico Solazzo (Alexia, Jamal Thomas) on keyboards, and Simone Mularoni (DGM, Empyrios), Fabrizio “Bicio” Leo (solo), and Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie, Creation’s End, Jordan Rudess) on guitars. The follow-up to his last album, Three Wise Monkeys, goes in a different direction as he musically tackles representing the ever-increasing role of technology in our world, and how, despite its advantages, it can also be detrimental to individuals as well as to society. His theme can be recognized as soon as the first track on the album.
What’s On Your Mind? introduces the album, and is entitled after the prompt on Facebook for users to write their status updates. The song starts out with a voice (Bill Lee) that says “What’s on your mind?” with the sound effects of a computer typing in the background, and then Rigoni’s bass comes in using harmonics with pedal effects with repetitive loops and layered notes and rhythms that set the foundation for the song before the main solo bass riff begins. This song is short, at only 1:38, and segues into the next song, the album’s namesake, Overloaded. Guitarist Marco Sfogli and keyboardist Federico Solazzo join Rigoni on this song to bring a nearly 8 minute track that takes you for a ride, that is appropriate for the titular track. It starts off with a catchy solo bass riff that is later paralleled by the guitar, and layered in different octaves and voices throughout the song. The song later builds with more melodic phrasings that included the keyboards as well, including organ, ambient synth, and pseudo-guitar voices. This song goes down several established paths with each instrument taking a lead with the other instruments complementing them in a good balance throughout the end of the song.
Chron is the third song on the album, and is probably the most complicated and “progressive” as far as the multiple time signature changes and complex rhythms that occur throughout the track. As its name infers time, this moderately timed song deals with multiple time changes that keep the song interesting, along with ebbs and flows in the music that give it texture. Rigoni starts the song with a distorted bass sound that he keeps throughout the track to give it a different timbre than most listeners might expect from a bassist. His experimental and innovative nature really shows through on this song in its avant garde fashion that is refreshing to hear in the world of music, and keeps his playing on par with any other instrumental progressive musician. Some organ is introduced about halfway into the song to give some chord accents to what the bass is already laying down. The beginning of the song sounds discordant and clashing but the phrasing eventually resolves into something more congruent as the riffs continue to segue in and out from each other.
The fourth song on the album, Floating Capsule notches the tempo and tone down a bit, and starts off with a pleasant but plaintive chord-led introduction to the song, while he plays a solo line over this with a effected bass tone that makes it stand out from his rhythm bass background. The bulk of the song is bass only, with no drums or other instrumentation until some introduction of synth toward the end, but it shines in its simplicity. There is a melancholic underpinning to the song, especially as there are news soundbytes heard subtly underneath the music. It is a shorter song at three and a half minutes, but it doesn’t feel like it leaves the listener shortchanged and is a nice lull in the middle of the album.
The next two songs on the album both feature guitarist Simone Mularoni. Corruption starts off with a chunky riff that after about a minute turns into a funky, syncopated section, and they trade off those segments back and forth for a while with the keyboards before the song changes into an easy, melodic guitar line that later gets filled in with a lot of well-executed shredding. The song then slows down to feature a bass solo with the guitar on effected arpeggiated chords to support it. The riff from the former bridge portion reprised later in the song and then it ends again with the same chunky riff that it started with, coming full circle. Ubick, however is a totally different song, with a funky, distorted bass to start it off with a techno feel. However, it digs into a much more metalized style after the introduction with some syncopated 8th note lines in both the bass and guitar that segue into a fun tradeoff with the guitar and keyboards. Rigoni’s bass solo shines in the center, giving it a fulcrum point to even more parts of the song that keep the listener guessing as to what might be coming next. The main line for this song is very catchy and the whole song has a kind of “fun” vibe to it. Some might find it too busy, but the many varied parts linked together seem to flow very well and keep the track interesting and unpredictable.
Multitasking is another short track at only 1:49, and again is experimental as per Rigoni’s style. It has a dissonant and somewhat Asian flavor to it, akin to some of the music from his last album. Like its title, he combines 3-4 different countermelodies/parts together alone on his bass that are completely independent from each other, but also still work together in their own quirky way. This is again a very unconventional song that shows Rigoni’s willingness to push the limits with his instrument and composition. It segues directly into the next song, Liberation, which features Fabrizio Bicio Leo on guitar. This track starts off slowly, with a single bass line, but it eventually picks up the pace as more instruments are introduced. This song is a little more straightforward and traditional, and seems to have a lot of influential flavors infused into it, such as a bit of an AC/DC vibe. There is a little bit of progressiveness that appears occasionally throughout the song, but this song maintains its more traditional metal approach for the bulk of the track.
The last track on the album, Glory of Life (Bonus Track), is a re-recording of a song from Rigoni’s first solo album, Something Different. This reinvention of the track shows a much punchier bass that cuts through much clearer than in the original recording. The arrangement is different than the original and is done entirely on the bass with many layers, effect voices, and harmonics that work very well together. This song has a lot of time signature changes that also add to the auditory interest. Even though this is an old track that Rigoni re-recorded, his changes make it feel like a different song altogether and is a nice end to the album.
Rigoni’s style remains uniquely his, but Overloaded also shows his continued evolution and progression as a bassist and songwriter. As always, he is not afraid to experiment and show innovative techniques and approaches with his bass. And although in Rigoni’s songwriting there can be a lot of repetition in phrasing throughout his songs that could border on being laborious, but he makes it work compositionally with slight changes or complementary parts. On the other hand, Rigoni can also introduce a number of different riffs that he tailors seamlessly into each other so that they appear that they were meant to fit each other. I feel that he continued his experimentation with this album, and I actually like it even more than Three Wise Monkeys in its overall sound and melodic direction. The ebb and flow seemed balanced, and was a very pleasurable listen overall. The instrumental only quality of this album also helped it seem to flow well, and highlighted the versatility of what a bass can do, more than just playing “in the pocket.” This album could very well appeal to a wide range of music lovers’ preferences. Rigoni is a strong advocate for his instrument, and his love of it shows on this album. All of Rigoni’s discography has been strong, but this album I would particularly recommend be a part of one’s music collection.