Stefano Bianchi Review in Blow-Up (Italy) #156, May 1, 2011

The Vertical Squirrels’ first album, Hold True (Accroche-toi!), was recently reviewed by Stefano Bianchi in Blow Up #156 (Italy, May 1, 2011). Here’s the review in both the original Italian and the English translation.
Stefano I Bianchi in Blow Up #156 (Italy), May 1, 2011

"… i Vertical Squirrels sono tra le cose più piacevoli ascoltate di recente in ambiti (avant?) rock-jazz.”

Un sincopato ritmo jazz e una chitarra che fa pensare al Ribot waitsiano; è (Put Some) Spunk in Your Funk, pezzo d’apertura dell’album dei canadesi Vertical Squirrels, Ajay Heble (piano, melodica, percussioni), Daniel Fischlin (chitarra, flauto provenzale), Lewis Melville (basso, banjo, radio frequenze) e Rob Wallace (batteria e vocalizzi). Ma è solo una delle mille indicazioni fornite da un disco che poi si dimena alla ricerca di onomatopee da veri scoiattoli verticali (Nomads, Sparrows & Machines) e veri ragni meccanici (Danse des araignées mécaniques), si sbilancia recuperando il Davis elettrico in versione notturna e flessuosa (l’ottima ¡Ah/Ha!), snocciola un talkin’ free (L’impatience des poissons), sfiora la psichedelia etnofolkie (Leaps Of Faith), si abbandona a romanticismi classicheggianti (La mnémologie / Amnesiaville) e dolcezze da rock ballad d’altri tempi (Resurrectiong The Good). Il gusto del puro suono che scorre coi freni mai troppo tirati è la via di un’interazione perfetta tra strumenti evidentemente guidati dal piano ma mai comprimari: appena un po’ barocchi, ironici, curiosi, affabili, intelligenti, abili, disincantati, rilassati ma non svagati, i Vertical Squirrels sono tra le cose più piacevoli ascoltate di recente in ambiti (avant) rock-jazz.

And in English:

"… The Vertical Squirrels are among the most pleasant things we have recently heard in the context of (avant?)- rock jazz.”

A syncopated jazz rhythm and a guitar that makes one think of the Waitsian [Marc] Ribot: that’s, in summary, the opening piece (Put Some Spunk In Your Funk ) of the album by the Canadian group The Vertical Squirrels: Daniel Fischlin (guitar and flute provençale), Ajay Heble (piano, melodica, percussion), Lewis Melville (bass, banjo, radio frequencies), and Rob Wallace (drums and vocals). But this is only one of the many musical directions in an album that vibrates and shakes in its quest for onomatopoeic sounds that make one think of real vertical squirrels (Nomads, Sparrows & Machines) and actual mechanical spiders (Danse des araignées mécaniques). The project establishes a dynamic, new balance by recalling the electric [Miles] Davis, in a nocturnal and supple piece––the beautiful ¡Ah/Ha!––then reels off a free-talkin’ track (L’impatience des poissons), gently touches on ethno-folk psychedelia (Leaps Of Faith), before abandoning itself to a romanticism that echoes the classical canon (La mnémologie / Amnesiaville) tinged with a sweetness of those rock ballads belonging to glorious past eras (Resurrecting The Good). The taste for pure sounds flows freely [in the music] without the slightest evidence of excess and represents a perfect interplay of instruments that follow the piano’s lead but are not just there to support the piano. With just a hint of the baroque, ironic, curious, affable, intelligent, capable, disenchanted––relaxed, but never distracted––The Vertical Squirrels are among the most pleasant things we have recently listened to in the (avant?) rock-jazz context. (Stefano Bianchi)

• Thanks to Sara Vila, Marta Nandorfy, and Rod Fortheringham for help with the translation.

• And thanks to Italy for listening!