A wicked singer (Elliot), an overly-disciplined pianist (Vincenzo Parisi) and a god-like guitarist (Fred); that’s how Kafka on the Shore describe their components. A melting pot of origins (America, Switzerland, Austria, Sicily), a combination which has more than once proved to inspire riveting music, for instance the quarter-Italian vadoinmessico. Kafka on the Shore borrows its name from Murakami’s book, where reality and dream collide. In its own way, beautiful but empty explores this fading prisms, telling stories of men who feel they are constantly out of place. Some of them are seeking their homeland, either in the American dream (bob Dylan) and the States nowadays (Moon Palace, from Paul Austers’ book). Overall, the lyrics are a collection of different stories, in a carousel of characters on display, from the solitary traveller to the drunkard who is convinced to be a pirate – it’s no surprise then that the band describes itself as “Pirate Mexican porn rock”.
However, these stories are crafted blending in Jerry Lee Lewis’ damned piano tunes, Gogol Bordello-esque gypsie rock and baroque ballads that you would hear in the greasiest Wetherspoons (Bacco). The Kaiser Chiefs-like cabaret aura, encouraged by the piano lines, is mostly corrupted by Nick Cave-y sensual storytelling (Venus). As in the origin of its members, Kafka on the Shore represents a melting pot of genres and sub-genres, and, as Kafka the writer shifted styles, seems to mutate and swing between playful Wombats-y attitude (Walt Disney pt.I) and a more mature groovy lounge jazz, hinting a subtly fuzzy yet sharp background – this thanks to the instrumental skeleton, which either follows or clashes with the flow of the lyrics.
Slightly rotten, deliciously electric and slippery in its definition, Beautiful but Empty is the sum of an explosive mix of classical piano lines, sharp guitar lines and dangerously-unstable vocals. In its Picasso-esque portrait, Kafka on the Shore moves towards a more cosmopolitan sound; I still don’t know how to label it, let’s go with “Pirate Mexican porn rock” for now.