Monday, 7 May 2018

SILENT COLOURS


Illusioni (Illusions) is the second album by Quarto Vuoto, a talented band from Mogliano Veneto, in the province of Treviso. It follows the excellent eponymous debut work from 2014 and was released in 2017 on the independent label Lizard Records with a renewed line up featuring Edoardo Ceron (bass), Nicola D'Amico (drums), Mattia Scomparin (keyboards, piano) and Luca Volonnino (guitar) plus some guests. In fact, in 2015 Federico Lorenzon (vocals, violin) left the band and wasn’t replaced but during the recording sessions Giulio Dalla Mora (sax) and Mauro Spinazzé (violin) gave their contribute to enrich the sound on some tracks.



The new album is completely instrumental and the images provided by Lorenzo Giolin’s wonderful art work in some way take the place of the lyrics in describing the concept behind the music. According to the band, all the pieces have a meaning, a story to tell, but the listener is free to interpret them with the help of his own imagination and sensitivity… Through our music we want to tell and describe the perception that men have of the reality that surrounds them... The six tracks represent different phases of human perception...

The dreamy opener “Nei colori del silenzio” (In the colours of silence) is calm and nocturnal. The music tries to evoke the innocence of childhood and the power of imagination typical of that age. An animated cartoon video directed by Lorenzo Giolin himself was shot to comment this piece and to represent its magic...



The following “Coscienza sopita” (Asleep consciousness) is nervous and tense. It tries to depict the spirit of rebellion of youth and the awareness of maturity, when the daily grind begins to produce its effects and starts to wear you out. The picture in the booklet portrays the lights and shadows of a big city at night. Behind the window of a lighted office there’s a bent man, he seems tired. That office might be his cage...

The long, melancholic “Impasse” tries to evoke the difficulties that you have to tackle in your life, the obstacles that you have to overcome. In the booklet, in the picture chosen to comment this piece you can see a bizarre world of flying rocks connected by ropes and crumbling bridges...


Quarto Vuoto 2017

The title of the following “Apofis” (Apophis) refers to the ancient Egyptian deity who embodied chaos and was thus the opponent of light and Ma'at (order/truth). This piece starts with sudden bursts of energy, the mood is dark and seems to mark the explosion of a deep crises. Then a calm jazzy passage follows with a sax solo evoking nostalgia and regret. As the music flows, there are many other changes in rhythm and atmosphere where you can perceive growing tension, rage but also positive memories. Here the picture in the booklet with its explosion of colours on a spectral background evokes a world falling apart in an infinite space...


The reflective “Due io” (Two I) seems to evoke the wisdom and calm of the old age. The atmosphere here is almost mystical while the picture in the booklet marks the contradictions of the life in a big city where lighted skyscrapers contrast with the hidden underground net. This piece comes like the calm after the storm...

The closer “Tornerò” (I’ll come back) begins by a beautiful soaring violin passage and a nice melodic pattern. It’s a wonderful track that marks the come back to the origins, a reflection about the sense of a life that is coming to an end. What will remain of us in the afterlife? Of course, there’s no answer. It’s just a starting point for a reflection while the world is turning upside down… Set your imagination free!

On the whole, I think that this is a really good album!


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Sunday, 15 April 2018

A SOLAR RIDE

Agorà 2 is the second album by Agorà and their first studio work. It was released in 1976 with a renewed line up featuring Roberto Bacchiocchi (keyboards), Ovidio Urbani (sax), Renato Gasparini (guitar), Mauro Mencaroni (drums), Nino Russo (sax, percussion) and Lucio Cesari (bass, percussion) and marks a step forward for the band that here is clearly focused on refining their jazz-rock sound showcasing a strong leaning for experimentalism and great musicianship. The wonderful artwork by Mario Convertino in some way captures this attitude with a nice black and white drawing...


The dreamy opener “Punto Rosso” (Red Point) is a nice, accessible track with a great interaction between all the instruments that every now and again could recall The Mahavishnu Orchestra. The following “Piramide di domani” (Pyramid of Tomorrow) starts calmly by hypnotic bass lines and a good acoustic guitar work, then the other instruments come in building a mysterious atmosphere sprinkled with exotic flavours. 

The long, melancholic “Tall El Zaatar” ends the first side of the original vinyl. Here the title refers to the tragic siege of Tel al-Zaatar, a fortified, UNRWA-administered refugee camp housing Palestinian refugees in north-eastern Beirut that was carried out by Phalangist forces in August 1976. It’s a kind of committed jazz elegy in memory of the victims...


The second side of the album opens with “La bottega di Duilio” (Duilio’s workshop) that, according to an interview with Ovidio Urbani, was inspired by a man who owned a workshop near the rehearsal room of the band in Serra San Quirico, a very special character in the life of that little town. The piece starts by a percussive pattern that introduces you in his strange laboratory and ironmonger’s shop... 

“Simbiosi (Vasi comunicanti)” (Symbiosis – Communicating vessels) was built up starting from a piano improvisations in the studio by Roberto Bacchiocchi and then elaborated with contribute of the other members of the band in a perfect symbiosis. In fact, the subtitle of this track refers to the name given to a set of containers containing a homogeneous fluid: when the liquid settles, it balances out to the same level in all of the containers regardless of the shape and volume of the containers. If additional liquid is added to one vessel, the liquid will again find a new equal level in all the connected vessels. Here this principle is applied to the music...


The long closer “Cavalcata solare” (Solar ride) is a kind of psychedelic jazz ride through the space. It starts slowly, then the rhythm rises for a long journey into unknown territories and forgotten dreamlands. This track was also released as a single and ends an album that is really worth listening to.

Unfortunately, despite the good quality of their music, Agorà disbanded in 1978 on account of the difficulties to make a living in the troubled, asphyxial Italian music business of the years of lead… 

You can listen to the complete album HERE

Agorà: Agorà 2 (1976). Other opinions:
Conor Fynes: Agorà never seems to stray needlessly, but the music often feels driven more by exploration than composition. The saxophone and Rhodes piano are given the most range here, with the thoughtfully melodic leads of the former generally paving the way on most of the songs… Even during the album's most laid-back passages, Agorà offer plenty to keep the attentive listener occupied. The approach to composition has clearly been designed with the intent of giving the instrumentation room to breathe and explore, but the way the music will always fall back on thick, band-oriented harmonies keeps the album feeling focused… It's not often a 'new' jazz band impresses me like this; if you're any bit into the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the jazzier end of Van der Graaf Generator or the classic sound of prog-fusion in general, check out this album and see what you think of it… (You can read the complete review HERE)

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Thursday, 12 April 2018

ON A NEW LEVEL

Born in Siena in 1970 from the ashes of two other bands called respectively Arf Arf and I Diamanti, Livello 7 had been active until 1976, initially as a cover band and then playing original music inspired by bands such as Weather Report and Perigeo. Although they were very popular in their home town, in those years the band never had the chance to release an album. After the band split up, one of the former members of Livello 7, Franco Caroni, turned to jazz and in 1983 formed another band called Juice Group to play fusion but the project had an ephemeral life. It wasn’t until 2013 that Franco Caroni met with some other musicians to work on the material of his previous bands and on some new composition forming a new band, Acqua Libera. After a hard, painstaking work in the studio, in 2016 Acqua Libera self-released an eponymous debut album with a line up featuring, along with Franco Caroni (bass), Jonathan Caradonna (keyboards – from Profusion), Fabio Bizzarri (guitar – from Vicolo Margana) and Marco Tosi (drums, percussion – also from Vicolo Margana). It’s a real good work where jazz rock and progressive rock influences are perfectly blended with great musicianship and maturity...


The opener “Tempi moderni” (Modern Times) is a wonderful track where melody and rhythm give life to the shadows and lights of a modern, busy world. The title seems to refer to a 1936 silent comedy film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin in which his iconic Little Tramp character struggles to survive in the modern, industrialized world while on a short video posted by the band on YT they chose a drawing of Battersea Station (without flying pigs) to symbolize the good and bad consequences of modernity and progress...

The following “Nautilus” is another excellent piece that could be a perfect score for an exotic maritime adventure. The title refers to the fictional submarine captained by Nemo featured in Jules Verne's novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea (1870) and The Mysterious Island (1874)...


The nocturnal “Alla luce della luna” (Under the moonlight) comes from the old repertoire of Livello 7 and was originally entitled “Undiciottavi” (Eleven-eight time) after its time signature. It’s a long, complex piece that evokes dreamy atmospheres and far echoes coming from the dark side of the moon...

The lively, light-hearted “Mr. Lou” was composed in the eighties by keyboardist Luigi Campoccia and comes from the legacy of the Juice Group. It was re-arranged by Acqua Libera that gave to it a new life. It leads to the more recent “Marcina” where strange, haunting waltzes merge into cheerful jazzy passages and vice versa...

Acqua Libera 2016

The title of the following “Sans tambour ni musique” (With no drums, no music) was taken from the verse of a poem by Charles Baudelaire… — And long hearses, with no drums, no music, file slowly through my soul: Hope, conquered, cries, and despotic atrocious agony plants on my bent skull its flag of black… (translation by Geoffrey Wagner from Selected Poems of Charles Baudelaire, Grove Press, 1974). Here the music blossoms like a flower of evil in a rainy spring day...

Then comes the tense, frenzied “Quo vadis”. Quo Vadis (Latin for "Where are you going?") is also the title of a 1951 American epic film directed by Mervyn LeRoy and set in ancient Rome during the final years of Emperor Nero's reign. Although in the liner notes you can’t find any link between this track and the film, I think that it could be a really good soundtrack for a thriller...

The last track, “Prog Mood”, is another piece taken from the repertoire of Livello 7 and was originally entitled “Seiottavi” (Six-eight time). It’s a piece full of energy and sudden changes in atmosphere that closes and album that absolutely worth listening to...

You can listen to the complete album HERE

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