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Luca Nieri Luca Nieri
Album: Luca Nieri
Label: Wonderfulsound
Tracks: 11

Never ones to rush anything London trio The Monks Kitchen could well be on an extended hiatus or they might just be steeling themselves to get it together once more. Either way, founding member and drummer Luca Nieri has slipped out his second solo set and a jolly fine thing it is too.

Like an unexpectedly warm breath of autumn air from the depths of the squinty dim, this beguiling set of wistful sunset songs slips an arm around your shoulders and gently hugs you closer to its bosom. No ill can befall you while lost in these woods, no sickness, no hunger, no doubt, no depression, as guitars pick their patterns behind Luca's likably serene voice all good things gradually sound not only possible but probable. His cover of Jackson C Frank's enigmatic classic Milk & Honey is particularly affecting with the original's dour directness slowed down and given a Morricone undertone complete with plodding spaghetti bassline.

Just as apposite is his treatment of The Pentangle's two-minute fantasy travelogue Mirage - smoothed out and blissful rather than angular and anxious. It leads neatly into the album's third instalment of instrumental Thoughts, each one sounding like a song too delicate for words. Speak of the Devil, on the other hand, is a set of lyrics scarcely brushed by their guitar setting with Nieri's voice mic-ed up close and still barely registering above a whisper. By the time the final instrumental Endsong completes its circular loop of the senses calmness pervades the universe and all's well once more.

Nick Churchill