Restored 01 July 2017, originally published 05 November 2014
What we have here today is a simple, five-track EP plus two bonus tracks. The opening sounds are unmistakably reggae; but even with something that seems straightforward on the surface, I Neurologici keeps you guessing.
Five Unorthodox Strategies appears on Strato Dischi Notlabel out of Rome, Italy. Opener “Dubotik” is a groovy, reggae instrumental. With its lead guitar line, this song could have been on the soundtrack of a spaghetti western. “Trenz” is up next and is electronic reggae with a few dub effects. This is followed by the slower groove of “Cycling”. This song is more varied in its composition than the first two. “Yin Yang” changes the script a bit. It’s still dub but with extra percussion and a sampled voice down in the mix that is tweaked with pitch variations throughout.
Just when I had settled in to enjoy what I assumed would be the remaining reggae tracks, up comes the final song (before the bonus cuts) called “Shot”. And, surprise, it is not dub or reggae at all. Instead, you get a darker electronic track with a repeating synth riff and harsh noises occasionally dropping in. The credits say there is a theremin on this track, but you could almost miss it as it’s very processed; it creates eerie sounds during the second half of the track. Then, in yet another unexpected turn, the first bonus song (“Plug-City”) arrives as a minimalist, high BPM techno track.
Rounding out the proceedings, we are back to dub with a remix by Lata (out of Santiago, Chile) of the second song “Trenz”. Lata gives this track a really nice workout – stretching it out but keeping it interesting by highlighting many different elements of the original track, with a little of his own seasoning thrown into the mix.
I Neurologici describe themselves as a dub collective out of Rome, Italy; they list over 20 members on their Facebook page. While the credits name a number of people who were involved is this particular production, it seems to be driven primarily by Matteo Minetti who wrote or co-wrote all of the songs.
The title of this release brings to mind the book One Hundred Unorthodox Strategies: Battle And Tactics Of Chinese Warfare and the download page also quotes the beginning of Chapter 57 of the Tao Te Ching. This sent me on a quest for the deeper meaning in this music, looking for clues to some sort of theme or hidden message. Frankly, while it may have some personal meaning to the artist, from a listener standpoint I concluded the references to Chinese literature are a red herring. But, who knows?
As always, it’s ultimately about the music. While a couple stylistic curveballs keep this from flowing completely smoothly as one unified work, they are individually all good songs. Just take them on their own terms and enjoy.
I Neurologici – “Dubotik”
Five Unorthodox Strategies Download site