The fact this Brazilian instrumental power trio, led by guitarist Nelson Coelho, signed for NYC label MoonJune Records to release this year’s “The Last Tribe” speaks enough. Being in a superleague with other great players such Allan Holdsworth, Chad Wackerman, The Wrong Object and other MoonJune artists, Dialeto had a tough task to accomplish and they did it in a heartbeat with “The Last Tribe”.
Your new, third album „The Last Tribe“ is also your first on MoonJune Records. How are you satisfied with the release?
Very satisfied, if it wasn’t for Leonardo Pavkovic there will be no album at all, because there is very little interest in this kind of music here in Brazil and Moonjune is making a terrific work promoting us worldwide, we’re getting great reviews in the Prog niche in places we couldn’t imagine otherwise, like Poland, Greece, Croatia, Holland, Korea…
You play instrumental progressive rock with guitar leading the way. How much of your work is based on improvisation, and how much space you set aside for planning the song structures?
Everything is created from some sort of improvisation even the Themes and the Riffs. I start playing and when I find something that I like I separate it and become to elaborate more and more. In terms of song structure I like the simple Jazz approach of “Theme-Improvisation-Theme” and I use it a lot, but there are some songs that asks for something else , Chromaterius and Vintitreis , for instance, then some other parts emerge naturally .
With „The Last Tribe“ you go completely instrumental comparing with your previous work „Chromatic Freedom“. Did you come into a stage where you think that your instruments can tell the story rather than singing about something?
Well, to be honest, I’m much more attracted to the guitar playing than to singing and I think that this is clear in our previous works, the voice plays a small role in the compositions. It just happens that in this new album I didn’t feel the need of this 4th instrument even because I’m using a loop pedal or because Pescara’s touchguitar is filling the space pretty nicely.
That’s right. I’m not a very technical guitarist, I do have some skills but just enough to express myself and sometimes I may do some very dirty licks that I think it’s much more expressive than if it was perfect and clear. And yes, my main focus when improvising is to create a nice melody with strong emotion attached, so I pay a lot of attention in the articulation of the notes, bends up and down, vibratos, pickings, legatos, slide and pick, pick and slide, whamy bar, all mixed up to work as if the guitar was a character speaking in a language that you may not understand but you can feel the intention and the emotion very well.
There is King Crimson in traces in the sound of „The Last Tribe“, referencing „The Power to Believe“ album. Which artists influenced your work on this album? What are some of your all-time favorite albums?
King Crimson was always a great influence for us, but there are lots of other influences as well and I couldn’t tell if there are some specific influences on this album. The influences are always unconscious and mixed up in these so many years of music listening. As my personal influences I’ll say: Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, KC, Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, Mahavishnu, Santana, Jeff Beck, Allan Holdsworth, UK, Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, Mike Oldfield, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Bela Bártok, Stravinsky, Bach, Ligetti and many others.
Some of my all-time favorite albums would be: King Crimson – Red, Larks Tongues in Aspic and Starless and Bible Black; Frank Zappa – Shut up and Play Your Guitar, Zoot Allures, Grand Wazoo, Joe’s Garage; Jimi Hendrix – Are you Experienced, Band of Gypsys, Electric Ladyland; Fripp & Eno – No Pussyfooting (this is a masterpiece); Brian Eno – Another Green World, Before and After Science, Music for Films; Pink Floyd – Ummagumma, Wish You Were Here; Mahavishnu – Birds of Fire; Santana and John Mclaughlin – Love Devotion and Surrender; Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells, Ommadawn, Hergest Ridge; Jeff Beck & Jan Hammer Group Live; Led Zeppelin – everything except “In Through the Out Door”; Deep Purple – Machine Head, Deep Purple in Rock, and this is really important, Captain Beyond’s 1st album.
Well… There is a lot of albums, hehehe, sorry.
Prog rock and progressive music in general are the subject of many debates. How do you see the evolution of the genre? Does it need to change? Do you think that a lot of today’s progressive music is about musical virtousity and not about actual bringing something new?
Well, frankly, I don’t care that much about the genre discussion, it’s not that I wanted to do. Prog music or fusion or whatever, it just happens that the music that I like to play is usually catalogued under this genre and sometimes, in Dialeto’s case is Heavy Prog or Fusion or Art-rock or Hard Prog. But, thinking about the original meaning of progressive music I think it should really bring something new, something that you have never listened before, something that you probably will not understand at first listening and will be very curious about what’s happening. That’s what I felt when I first listened to Larks Tongues in Aspic back in the 70’s and more intensively with Fripp & Eno’s “No Pussyfooting”, this one took me many listening to fully understand and appreciate but then it really opened a new door of perception for me. In that vision it’ll be very hard to find some real progressive music these days. There are bands that try to emulate Yes, Genesis, Floyd, ELP, KC , which I think is a really bad idea, there are bands that focus on virtuosity as you said, which is legitimate and sometimes cool but often boring and soulless as well, and there are bands like Dialeto that just deal with musical concepts traditionally associated with Prog, such as odd time signature, dissonances, exotic scales, moods and textures, which is not usual in the mainstream but not necessarily innovative by itself. In “The Last Tribe” the only song that I think may be considered progressive in these terms is “Chromaterius” , you’ll need to listen to it many times to fix the chromatic melodies in your memory. Another Dialeto’s song in that same page would be “Divided by Zero” from “ Chromatic Freedom” it takes some time to understand the main riff and its form. I love that feeling of strangeness.
„Windmaster“ opens your new album and also this is a song you chose for the Progstravaganza sampler. It kicks off with a very nice melody and keeps the pace steady all the time during its almost six and half minutes. What does this song mean to you as a composer/performer? Does it give you any special feeling when you are playing/listening to it?
As a composer I’m very happy with the main theme which constitutes a long melody that has many well articulated parts that brings a nice sense of movement and seems to tell a little story. Then, as a performer, there is the improvised solo that evolves in different parts and then grows and grows..and then grows a little more. I like that adventurous intensity very much.
What does the art cover for „The Last Tribe“ mean?
I’m also a 3D artist so, this image (which some critics hated so much) was created as part of an animated short movie for the song “The Last Tribe”. The characters are members of a hypothetical tribe that are facing its own extinction. In this very dark ambient that they are living they find this very curious and luminous bird that came from the moon. The bird will lead them to a place where they will see their future. The movie is in production but…well…it will take some time to finish.
Last five albums you listened to:
Espectro – Violeta de Outono
Copo D’Água – Rainer Tankred Pappon
Conjure – Herd of Instinct
Burden of Proof – Soft Machine Legacy
Heritage – Opeth
and, of course, all Moonjune Sampler and Moonjune Recommends digital albuns.
What the future holds for Dialeto?
Maybe we should also follow the luminous bird to see our future. But the plan for now is to play live everywhere, some Prog Festivals would be really nice.
Thank you very much Nick and Prog Sphere team for the questions.