Sunday, 28 October 2012

ON THE ROCKS

Gran Torino come from Verona and their roots date back to 2000 when Cristiano Pallaoro (guitars), Alessio Pieri (keyboards, piano), Gian Maria Roveda (drums) and Fabrizio Visentini Visas (bass) started to play for fun as a cover band. In 2009 they began to work on a more ambitious project featuring only original compositions blending influences of bands such as PFM, Genesis, Spock's Beard or Kansas with a personal touch. In 2011 they finally released an interesting debut album on the Swiss independent label Galileo Records, “grantorinoProg”, featuring ten instrumental tracks and a nice art work by Mark Wilkinson. The band showcase here an excellent musicianship and the music flows away like a river on the rocks with a great interplay between keyboards and guitar and a pulsing rhythm section in the background.


Although all the tracks are completely instrumental the band provided some short liner notes for every track, just to give you an idea of what the music is about. The opener “Sinapsi” is full of obscure energy and invites you to dream and vibrate to the rhythm of music... “You sleep but you can hear it. You don't know what is it, but you know it is real...”. Some passages recall Goblin and are painted in disquieting deep red colours. The following “Jack Montorio” tries to evoke a search for tranquillity that drives you far away from home and an emotional storm due to a broken relationship. On the powerful “Rock Waters” the electric guitar comes alive while the music is in some way related to the images of the art cover. Next comes “Joy” where the band mix Eastern flavoured harmonies with neoclassical influences inviting you to seize the day.


“Miridiana” is another excellent track full of colours. A mysterious woman paints her face with red eastern dust and looks towards the horizon while ancient maps resurface in her mind... “Fox Box” is frenzied, claustrophobic. You can run and jump like a fox in a box but you can't break through because the only freedom is in your mind. For this track the band shot a video set in the Roman theatre of Verona.


“Five” is a nice short acoustic track that leads to the aggressive “Radio Vox” where the electric guitar is the protagonist. The following “Eco” recalls Goblin once again with its suggestive atmosphere and its dark organ rides backed by the rhythm section. The long final track, “Zorro”, starts calmly, the mood is dreamy, nocturnal... “A mask hides your face, a sword defends your feelings. Harmony takes away the mask, melody defeats the sword, and you fly on the wings of your instrument...”.


Well, all in all I think that this is a very good album where the musicians managed to express all their great passion for the music they love without sounding too retro.

Gran Torino: grantorinoProg (2011). Other opinions:
Jon Neudorf: All four musicians are very good and the band has plenty of chops but they don't go overboard with excessive noodling and can slow it down when the need arises. That said, there are lots of tempo changes and stop/starts that demand your attention. Heavy guitar riffs abound and the band's hard rock beginnings shine through often although the music never gets too heavy. You will hear lots of interplay between guitar and keys and both instruments shine throughout... grantorinoProg is a fine debut release from a band that should have a bright future as long as they continue to move forward and carve their own niche. Nice stuff indeed... (read the complete review HERE).
Vitaly Menshikov: What may initially seem as a certain sameness in the band’s music (due to the fixed instrumentation and the aforementioned similarity in the development of tracks as well), will fade on subsequent listens, as the subtle complexities of the arrangements reveal themselves... This disc is an auspicious debut for the quartet to appear on Top-20 lists of many art-rock and related publications this year. I think only those who are exclusively into the most complicated forms of the genre (e.g. King Crimson, early ‘70s Van Der Graaf Generator, Yes circa 1973-’74) might omit it in this respect... (read the complete review HERE).


More info:

Sunday, 21 October 2012

TWELVE SHORT STORIES

“Dodecahedron” is the fourth album by Daal and was released in 2012 on the independent label Agla Records. The project is always led by drummer David Guidoni and keyboardist Alfio Costa and this time the guest musicians who joined the party are Ettore Salati (guitars), Luca Scherani (bouzouki), Roberto “Bobo” Aiolfi (bass), Alessandro Papotto (sax, flute, clarinet), Vincenzo Zitello (Celtic harp, flute), Marcella Arganese (classical guitar), Chiara Alberti (cello) and Sylvia Trabucco (violin).

Davide Guidoni and Alfio Costa
The album features twelve instrumental tracks that were built upon words and the sound is more compact, richer than in the past. The tracks have no title but every one is linked to a short story that you can read in the enclosed poster. In fact, this is a kind of conceptual work: Davide Guidoni and Alfio Costa wrote some short stories, then asked their fans to send them other short stories, chose the better ones and composed the music trying to capture the spirit of the words and their emotional content. In my opinion the result is surprisingly good, the musicians reached their goal and delivered twelve charming, evocative pieces drenched in emotion.
 
art cover

The opener was inspired by a disquieting story of madness and solitude, “Bianco” (White), by an unknown author. The interaction between the piano and the other instruments marks the contrast between an external, apparent calm and inner the feelings of inquietude and fear of the protagonist while threatening shadows are approaching... “My words have no voice any more, my soul has no light and my thoughts melt into the oblivion of this room with padded white walls...”. Next comes the track inspired by “Sclerotics Days”, by Davide Masciavé. Here malady is compared to an uninvited guest that haunts you, invisible and ever present. Sadness is all over the place, your enemy hides in the dark while your senses frequently confound night and day, dreams and nightmares. A sick, obscure moon lights your way...

The third track was inspired by “La suora nera” (The black nun) by Alfio Costa. The dreams of a little child turn into a nightmare and the Devil comes in disguised, hidden by religious symbols. There are autumnal colours and sinister shadows, a hard rock incipit, a classical inspired passage with piano and violin, another tense, dark section followed by a pastoral one, then the rhythm rises again with a Martial bolero pace. Well, a wonderful track full of nuances and surprises! The following track was inspired by “La bambola di lana” (The doll of wool) a sad, evocative story by another anonymous author where you can see the trauma of the loss of the parents through the innocent eyes of a little children. Here Death appears as a dreadful swarm of moths devastating the house.

The fifth track was inspired by “L'ultimo incontro” (The last randez-vous), a short story by Mauro Marino describing the agony of a man who is not ready to die, not yet! He asks for a last breath of life, a last ray of sun while sax notes soar like desperate prayers in the wind. The sixth track was inspired by “Dodecahedron”, a Gothic story by Davide Guidoni about a haunted country house. The music is excellent, it flows away like the soundtrack of a horror film and features a guitar solo that could recall David Gilmour.

The seventh track was inspired by “La Torre” (The tower) by Daniela Cologgi and features Celtic influences and an atmosphere full of mystery. It describes the tower of a medieval castle and the tragic flight of some women haunted by its ghosts. The following track was inspired by “Il bambino e il sogno” (The child and the dream) by Marco D'Andrea, a short story dealing with the fears and the dreams of a child. The music underlines the contrast between dark and light, dream and reality. The child opens the window, the dream is frightened by a scarecrow and melts at dawn...


The ninth track was inspired by “I Can Not Let Go...”, a story by Galina Azarenkova about the “thick but echoing emptiness” that the slow agony of a dying man provokes in his wife. The music begins with a sudden surge of rage, then many changes in mood and rhythm follow. Next comes the track inspired by “The Moon Is Pale Tonight” by Miroslav Gasko that depicts a wooden house on a hill where crazy musicians play, then poets who write their poems with their tears and a lonely child unable to live outside his dreams...

The eleventh track is taken from “I Left For Home” by Drew May that describes a cathartic listening experience. The mood is dreamy, almost hypnotic... After a hard day we meet a man on his way home, he looks forward to listen to his beloved music losing the concept of reality, at least for a short time... The last track was inspired by “Il padre che vedevo distante” (The father I used to feel far) by Daniele Cutali. A man sees in a dream his late father. Father and son never got along with each other but now the dead father comes just to say “Thank you” and appears to his son nearer than ever before. The music here features strong classical influences and a very suggestive mood.

After more than seventy minutes of music and emotions the album comes to an end. There are no weak moments nor fillers, everything works. Bravi!

Daal: Dodecahedron (2012). Other opinions:
Conor Fynes: The music is full of potential, but the album seems content to wander, and 'window shop' through a variety of sounds, without picking one and developing it long enough to create something truly magical... (read the complete review HERE).

More info:



Saturday, 20 October 2012

DANGEROUS DOVES


From Rock Progressivo Italiano: an introduction to Italian Progressive Rock

Alphataurus were one of the many Italian “one shot bands” of the early seventies. The line-up featured Michele Bavaro (vocals), Pietro Pellegrini (keyboards), Guido Wasserman (guitar), Alfonso Oliva (bass) and Giorgio Santandrea (drums). They released only one eponymous album in 1973 for Magma Records, an independent label founded by I New Trolls member Vittorio De Scalzi and by his brother Aldo (founder of Picchio dal Pozzo). In 1973 this work passed by almost completely unnoticed and Alphataurus disbanded after awhile during the sessions of a second album that was released, incomplete, only in 1993 by Mellow Records as “Dietro l’uragano”. Nonetheless this eponymous excellent debut work became later a “cult album” among Italianprog fans... It was remastered and re-released by Btf in 1995 and it should be considered a must-have in every Italian prog collection, especially for the papersleeve package...

Alphataurus 1973

The art cover is wonderful and perfectly depicts the content of the album. It’s a painting by Adriano Marangoni spread on a three fold jacket featuring white doves with olive branches in their beaks dropping bombs on a dreamy landscape... “You’re going towards the void without a goal now / Don’t be afraid, come back among us / You have experienced everything, a whole life / In a phoney light you used to build up your reality... It was a sin of pride / Remember you’re a man / You can still live on...”. On the long, complex opener “Peccato d’orgoglio” (Sin of pride) the mood hangs between dream and nightmare, in the lyrics you can perceive the fear of nuclear war and the hope for a better world, while the music swings from soft acoustic passages to hard rock, from beautiful harmony vocals to instrumental “electric tarantella” passages that every now and again recall PFM’s “E’ festa / Celebration”.


The second track “Dopo l’uragano” (After the storm) describes in music and lyrics a bleak landscape, solitude and fear then give way to hope... “The echo of a song tells about a flower and a stone / And on that stone another life will come into the world...”. Then the tension melts into the beautiful, dreamy short instrumental “Chroma”, symphonic and “classically inspired”.


“La mente vola” (The mind flies) is another long, complex track that begins with a hypnotic marching beat leading to a sudden awakening featuring dramatic vocals and “moog waves”... “Suddenly you see the sun / You breathe air, you pick up a flower / You don’t know anymore / What you were yesterday... Now you know / What’s the wish to prey / Now you know / What’s the strength to hope...”.
 
 
The last track “Ombra muta” (Silent shadow) is another great one. Before the dream comes to an end there’s still time for almost ten minutes full of beautiful music featuring shifting tempos and inspired vocals... “Then suddenly I woke up / With your voice hanging in my mind / I’m just at one step between the shore and the sea / Looking at the way to start again...”.

More info about the band:

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

FROM A JAPANESE SHRINE

Alberto Rigoni was born in 1981 and comes from Montebelluna, a little town in the province of Treviso. Since 2003 he as been the bass player of a prog-metal band called Twinspirits but he is a sensitive composer as well and in 2008 he released a debut solo album, “Something Different”, on the Finnish label Lion Music.


In 2011 Alberto Rigoni released a second album, “Rebirth”, with the help of many friends and some prestigious guests by the likes of Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson), John Macaluso (Ark, TNT) and Michael Manring, just to name a few. This album gained him some attention and in 2012 he self-released what can be considered his best work so far, “Three Wise Monkeys”, a concept album freely inspired by a Japanese myth evoked in an original way by the beautiful art cover by Davide Guidoni. Among the musicians that helped Alberto Rigoni this time you can find, among others, former Dream Theater's keyboardist Kevin Moore, Göran Edman and Jonas Erikson. On this album you can find prog-metal influences, of course, but also many fine melodies and a touch of jazz. The great musicianship of all the musicians involved in this work is not ostentatious in any way and the final result is a well crafted, balanced mix of passion and competence.


The short opener “Toshogu Shrine” sets a mystic atmosphere and takes you far away, to the far east, into a shrine in Nikko, in Japan. In fact, the Toshogu Shrine is one of the main attractions of this city and here, in the Sacred Stable, you can find a famous carving of the three wise monkeys, a traditional symbol in Japanese culture. Together they embody a principle: “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. The instrumental “Mizaru” describes the meeting with the first monkey. Mizaru is the monkey who covers his eyes, the one who sees no evil. The music starts softly, then a more aggressive section follows, the atmosphere becomes tense, dark clouds are gathering all around you...




Next comes the title track, featuring Göran Edman on vocals. The music is aggressive, it begins with a thundering drum roll and flows like a raging river. A day dreamer is breaking all the rules, fighting for his dreams and living day by day searching for the truth, but someone warns him... “You should trust me, my friend / I know it's hard to live that way / I can tell you what's the plan for you... Three wise monkey’s golden rule / Looking the other way / Pretending that you are a fool / Cause you don’t wanna play / Wilfully turning a blind eye to all immorality...”. Then the instrumental “Kikazaru” describes the meeting with the second wise monkey. Kikazaru is the one who covers his eyes, the one who hears no evil. The atmosphere is softer, the music features some jazzy influences and a mystic mood but the pulsing bass lines suggest that something is moving undercover, a black iron man looking for his Sabbath, ready to strike like a tornado...




“Blackened Tornado” soars like a Zeppelin in the sky with its biting electric guitar riffs. The heartfelt Jonas Erikson's vocals describe the inner conflict that is storming inside the young day dreamer. Reality seems going out of his reach while he's fighting against dark winds... “I'm a victim of my own thoughts / My mind is sick and I can't go on / I can't see what's reality / It's like a nightmare living in a dream...”. Then the instrumental “Iwazaru” describes the meeting with the third wise monkey. Iwazaru is the one who covers his mouth, the one who speaks no evil. The atmosphere is dark and tension rises, no need of words for that!




“Free Falling” is about the sense of impotence that comes from the awareness that mother nature is crying and you can't help her, your are not strong enough to change the way things are going on and speaking up is pointless. Fear is growing inside you, there's no time for prayers and you have the feeling that the ground is crumbling under your feet, you're falling into the void... “Have you seen the news today? / Poisoned air is everywhere / I've seen the words before / It’s hard to see the earth bleeding / Tragic times, what can we do? / In the end there's nothing new...”.




The delicate, dreamy “Between Space And Time” comes like the calm after the storm and leads to the melancholic, reflective “Coming Home”. The day dreamer is on the way back, homeward bound, and carries on his shoulders the heavy burden of his broken dreams... “I'm coming home love, this is my home town / I've tried my wings, I lived my dream... A few more miles and then I'm done...”. The melodic final track, “Believe”, brings back a bit of optimism encouraging you to hang on your dreams and to fight for what you think is right... “I believe in you / I believe what we can do...”.

Well, all in all I think that this a really good work. Anyway, you can listen to the complete album in streaming on bandcamp.com, so have a try and judge by yourselves! Click HERE!

Alberto Rigoni: Three Wise Monkeys (2012). Other opinions:
Joe Mis: Bass players everywhere could learn a lesson from Alberto Rigoni. His eclectic mix of influences and styles proves him to be a complete musician who fully explores the limits of his instrument of choice. He is an outstanding performer whether delivering simple rhythms or pounding out complex riffs. He never neglects the melodic elements of songwriting and plays with his heart, not just his fingers. Three Wise Monkeys should be seen as a solid progressive rock-fusion “journey,” and NOT a bass player’s ego trip. Very highly recommended! (Read the complete review HERE)

More info:

Sunday, 14 October 2012

ORIGINAL ORIGAMIS

In 2008 two experienced musicians, Roman drummer Davide Guidoni and Alfio Costa, keyboardist from Bergamo, shared a vision and came up with a new project called DAAL (the name is an acronym inspired by the first letters of their first names). They spent together a week in a country house in the province of Viterbo, in the Cimini Hills area, putting together and recording their musical ideas, then they refined and chiselled them in studio with the help of some guest musicians. The result is “Disorganicorigami”, a debut album that was released in 2009 on the independent label Mellow Records. It's a work full of enthusiasm and passion where the musicians blend vintage sounds with modern influences and up to date technology looking for “an absolute freedom of expression”. Although the album is completely instrumental the art work by Davide Guidoni and some liner notes in some way explain what the music is about...

Davide Guidoni and Alfio Costa

The short opener “Holocaustica” is about the never ending human tendency to self-destruction. You can hear screaming hooters and synthetic sounds then a threatening, distorted marching beat. There's an overall disquieting mood... “Tell me... Man... Aren't you tired of breathing death yet?”. Next comes the dark “Chimaira” that, according to the liner notes, was inspired by a Valerio Massimo Manfredi's novel of the same name dealing with Etruscan rites and a mysterious statue called “L'ombra della sera”. The guests Flavio Costa (guitar) and Cristiano Roversi (Chapman stick) add deep red colours to this excellent track... “I was only a child, but when I become a warrior I saw its eyes and lost my sense, forever...”.




“Mo(o)nso(o)n” leads you far away towards East with its frenzied percussion work and its nocturnal, exotic flavour. A strange presence is following you keeping to himself, following a path on his own... The electric violin provided by the guest Riccardo Paltanin add a touch of mystery. “Brain Melody” is another dark, hypnotic track enriched by Alessandro Papotto's Turkish sax obscure melodies... “I am the way to the night, the wanderer following the tracks of time... Dancing to the rhythm of madness...”.




The long “The Dance of the Drastic Navels Part 1” is divided into four parts and was inspired by a sci-fi story about sex between humans and machines that you can read in the booklet. The piece begins with an experimental, suggestive section, “Chapter One: Touch my oscillators”, then comes a part close to free jazz, “Chapter Two: Inside The Electronic Witch”. After eight minutes the atmosphere becomes more relaxed with the beautiful “Chapter Three: Ibrida-Ex”. The dreamy “Chapter Four: Sleeping Away” concludes the story... “And sleep caught up with him dead tired... A sleep he didn't wane to ever wake up from...”.




The short title track is dedicated to the memory of Richard Wright along with the following Pink Floyd's cover “A Saucerful Of Secrets”. Then comes “Children Of Our Dreams”, a short, delicate acoustic track featuring the guest Vincenzo Zitello on flute, viola, cello and clarinet. It's a kind of lullaby for all the suffering children all around the world... Ragnarök's cover “Var Glad Var Dag”, credited as special bonus track, concludes the album drawing other dreamy atmospheres. Well, this is a challenging album and it could be difficult to appreciate it on the very first listening but if you try again I think it can be rewarding.

Daal: Disorganicorigami (2009). Other opinions:
Raffaella Benvenuto-Berry: To be fair, “Disorganicorigami” does have its moments, and some parts of it are really good, though perhaps not extremely original. Davide Guidoni uses both Mandala drums and a conventional drum kit, which lends the album a remarkably organic sound; while Alfio Costa plays an impressive array of synthesisers, whose ‘whistling’ effects may occasionally come across as jarring... Even if not easy to pinpoint musically, “Disorganicorigami” is a formally impeccable, though somewhat one-dimensional example of instrumental prog based mainly on electronic keyboards and percussion. While it occasionally sounds a tad sterile and detached, fans of electronic and spacey prog in particular may find it a worthwhile listening experience... (read the complete review HERE)



Daal's sophomore album, “Destruktive Actions Affect Livings”, was released in 2011 on the independent label Agla Records. Davide Guidoni and Alfio Costa went on with their musical project with the help of some prestigious guests such as Alessandro Papotto (sax), Guglielmo Mariotti (bass, vocals), Riccardo Pantanin (violin), Salvo Lazzara (guitar, oud), Bobo Aiolfi (fretless bass) and Ettore Salati (sitar). In my opinion this work marks a step forward for the duo. The result of their efforts is a well crafted and balanced mix of vintage sounds and sonic experiments but the experimentalism is never unfocused or invading.

The short, disquieting opener Redroom introduces the claustrophobic, tense “AnarChrist”, a piece dedicated to Giovanni Passannante, an Italian anarchist sentenced to death for a failed attack to the king of Italy Umberto I in 1878. The death penalty was commuted into life imprisonment and Passannante served his time in very hard conditions in a dark, wet cell until his death. On the following track “Noises from an Interlude” you can hear a sound of paces and a door opening. It's just a short introduction for the esoteric, almost mystic “Level 6666”, one of my favourite track on this album. Daal shot a video for this track providing evocative images for the music...




The long “The Dance of the Drastic Navels Part II” is divided into six parts. It's the sequel of “The Dance of the Drastic Navels Part I” on the previous album and begins softly with “Awake”. The second section, “Artificial Desire”, features a dreamy vocal part sung in English... “I'd like to be the wind / Caressing your face / Lost in your hair / I'd like to be fire... I'd like to be the blood inside you...”. Well, this story of sexual attraction between a man and a beautiful cybernetic-woman is rather strange. The music stirs your imagination and features many changes in mood and rhythm going on with “Inside The Electronic Labyrinth”, “Ibridance”, “Flying To You” and “The Oblivion”.




Next comes “Cry-Hologenic” that begins with a delicate, dreamy piano pattern, then the dream turns into an ethereal mystic experience with ethnic instruments and synthesizers. The following “Aglatarium” begins with a calm, jazzy mood then the rhythm rises for an unexpected finale. The long title track features an ethnic flavour and a good percussion work while the last track, the melancholic “Memories of Old Pictures”, is dedicated to the memory of a friend, Giuseppe Ottoni and features an intriguing spacey finale. The band shot a video for this piece as well...




All in all a very good album! By the way, Daal released in addition to the official edition, a limited edition featuring a box with a bonus CD that later became their third “official” album, “Echoes of the Falling Stars”.

Daal: Destruktive Actions Affect Livings (2011). Other opinions:
Assaf Vestin: This album is one of those experience albums. An album I listen to for the ambiance, the peculiar sounds and moods it conjures and not so much for the melodies. In that aspect, I find it a successful release. Its wide range of styles and sound and its exploratory nature make it an experience I enjoy and want to come back to... (read the complete review HERE).
Lee Henderson: Daal present things in a very artistic way, as each song stands like a portrait. The music here does not terrify you, but it seems to just be sad that things are the way they are, and wonders how they got like this. So while you do not have lyrics and vocals on the recording, it is still a social commentary with just the music speaking. I really liked this release and look forward to many more from Daal... (read the complete review HERE)

More info:
http://www.daal.it/
http://www.myspace.com/daalband
http://www.reverbnation.com/daalband
http://www.facebook.com/DAALMUSIC

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

THE LADY OF THE LAKE

Dama del Lago began life in Capua in 2008 on the initiative of Valerio Casanova, Armando Lo Savio and Ettore Mariano. After many problems and a hard work in studio, in July 2010 the band self-released a debut album, “Echi d'acqua” (Water echoes), with a line up featuring Valerio Casanova (guitar, vocals), Antonio Di Lullo (keyboards), Martino Impemba (drums). Armando Lo Savio (bass) and Giulio Verazzo (guitar, vocals). Dama del Lago's main influences range from 70s Italian progressive rock to post rock and but the musicians manage to blend them with a fresh, personal touch. The name of the band means “Lady of the Lake” and all the five tracks of this work are in some way characterized by the common thread of the water element. The art work by Enrico Campanino tries to capture the spirit of this element...

Dama del Lago 2009

The instrumental title track opens the album drawing evocative soft post-rock atmospheres. The sound of rain conjures up a cloudy sky, then some electric guitar notes begin shining through the clouds like crazy diamonds in the eye of a hurricane. Next comes the dreamy “Onirica (Oneiric) that starts softly, evoking silent visions under the moonlight. The vocals seem a bit uncertain, almost shy, then the rhythm rises and a more aggressive section follows to describe a burning soul struggling on the border between reality and illusion.


The long, complex “Venezia, 1736” (Venice, 1736) is my favourite track on this work. It tries to take you back in time... In 1736, in Venice, while people is celebrating the Carnival you can see the mysterious shadow of a man who walks along narrow alleys, ready to set off on a long journey for new adventures, trying to escape from the ghosts of his obscure past...


The following “Gli abissi del ricordo” (The abysses of remembrance) is a slow, disquieting instrumental with psychedelic echoes that leads to the conclusive “La torre del tempo” (The tower of Time), a good allegoric track about the impossibility to stop the eternal flowing of time where lyrics describe an improbable army of day-dreamers and desperate people trying to take by assault the tower of Time... “The columns of clay collapsed / The hourglass welded the sand / And maybe someone shouted / When Time ended its time...”.


Well, on the whole this is not a flawless album. The vocal parts could be improved and there are some ingenuities, but I think that there are many good ideas as well. Anyway, judge by yourselves: you can listen to the complete album and legally download it for free. Click HERE

Soon after “Echi d'acqua” was released Antonio Di Lullo and Armando Lo Savio left the band and were replaced by Domenico Cimino (guitar) and Maria D'Errico (keyboards) while Giulio Verazzo passed from guitar to bass. Unfortunately, in 2013 the band called it a day: it's a real pity, they were working on a new album and I was really curious to listen to it.

More info:

Sunday, 7 October 2012

SURFING A VISIONARY WAVE

Breznev Fun Club hails from the province of Matera, in Basilicata and began life in the mid eighties on the initiative of guitarist Rocco Lomonaco, drummer Mario Ventrelli and keyboardist Francesco Gallipoli. Their sources of inspiration range from classical music to avant-garde, from Rock In Opposition to Canterbury and more. During their live performances they've always showcased a strong theatrical attitude introducing cabaret elements and recitative parts thanks to their front-man Franco Sciscio who joined the band in 1990.

Breznev Fun Club 1995

During the years the band went through many troubles and line up changes and it wasn't until 2010 that they managed to release a real debut album on the independent label Btf/AMS, “L'onda vertebrata: Lost + Found Vol. 1”, with pieces composed from 1990 to 1997 re-arranged and properly re-recorded in studio in 2009 by a line up featuring Rocco Lomonaco (guitars, banjo, mandolin, quatro, harmonica), Franco Sciscio (vocals), Giuliana Di Mitrio (vocals), Maria Mianulli (flute), Francesco Manfredi (clarinet), Michele Motola (sax), Gianfranco Menzella (sax), Francesco Panico (trumpet), Francesco Tritto (trombone), Tommaso De Vito Francesco (bass, oboe), Michele Fracchiolla (drums, percussion, vibraphone, marimba), Pino Manfredi (piano, keyboards), Duilio Maci (violin) and Angela Schiralli (cello). In my opinion, the final result of their efforts is excellent! The sonic experiments of the band are never too extreme or self-indulgent and the well balanced arrangements avoid the wild territories of “musique concrète”. The music flows away without weak moments and I'm sure that even those who are not in love with avant-garde will find this challenging work rewarding.


The opener “Ludiche ecchimosi (5 danze immaginarie)” (Playful ecchymosis – 5 imaginary dances) sets the atmosphere. It's a perfectly crafted instrumental piece in five parts where strong classical influences are blended with a touch of jazz. The mood is dreamy, the beautiful operatic voice of Giuliana Di Mitrio here is used as an instrument and soars drawing a charming melody, then the music goes on crossing enchanted places where you can set you mind free and merrily dance under the moon with your sweetest, aching memories. The following “Il Folletto di Cera” (The bogey of wax) is another dreamy track in two parts where you can listen for the first time to the particular voice of Franco Sciscio. The beginning is joyful, then the atmosphere becomes dark. The lyrics conjure up a spiteful bogey of wax wondering in the night and eventually burning in the air. Well, this is an allegorical character that symbolizes a carefree man on his way for an unexpected meeting with the grim reaper...


“Inseguito dai creditori” (Chased by the creditors) is more aggressive. It's a tense instrumental track featuring sudden changes in rhythm and mood. Finally the tension melts and a surreal calm falls down. The following “Tre pezzi brevi” (Three short pieces) is another dreamy track in three parts full of musical colours. It leads to the title track, a long, complex suite divided into ten sections that represents the “main course” of this work. It starts with a short drum solo, then the other instruments begin to embroider a brilliant musical texture, an ideal background for the visionary poetry of Franco Sciscio who reminds me here of Paolo Carelli and of his Pholas Dactylus' Concerto delle menti. The lyrics describe a surreal, psychedelic dream, a wild ride surfing a vertebrate wave directed towards the North Star, among water-drops looking upwards. A big Sagittarius, a perfect utopia, a peculiar choir of angels and the frustrations of an ape, the tentacles of an octopus pervading a non-existent body, striking impulses leading you towards a threatening horizon... You can try to tame your dream and words finally would get trapped in a quicksand while blue tears begin to fall on your face... The dream comes to an end on the bright marching beat of a sumptuous fanfare...

Breznev Fun Club 1998

The last two pieces are credited as bonus tracks. “La follia del mimo Azoto” (The madness of Azoto the mime) features funky influences and recalls Area. Here Franco Sciscio vocals evoke the spirit of the “Master Of The Voice” Demetrio Stratos while reciting another psychedelic poem and describing a strange character, a shiny wayfarer who caresses the moon with his fiery hands while you look for a way out from the dark, in a gloomy vegetation made of eyes... An instrumental version of “Il folletto di cera” concludes this excellent album.

Breznev Fun Club: L'onda vertebrata: Lost + Found Vol. 1 (2010). Other opinions:
Raffaella Benvenuto-Berry: For an album that can be quite comfortably placed under the capacious RIO/Avant umbrella, L’Onda Vertebrata is a surprisingly melodic and accessible effort, sophisticated yet not needlessly daunting. Indeed, despite the undeniably complex and “highbrow” nature of the music, the album as a whole never tries to hit the listener over the head with its cleverness and supposed superiority to “mainstream” prog... (read the complete review HERE)
Assaf Vestin: I am very impressed with this album. And I find the music on it to be as lovely as it is captivating. But know this, it takes time and concentration to fully absorb all of it. There, a direct and simple way to praise an album, bypassing all the verbose and loquacious long-winded and pompous reviewing I usually aim for... (read the complete review HERE)

More info:

Thursday, 4 October 2012

FROM LIGURIA...











Rokh is a project that began life in 2011 in Genoa. Here you can listen to their first demo. The sound quality is not very good but I think that this band is very promising. Have a try!


More info:
http://www.myspace.com/rokh.project
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rokh
http://www.reverbnation.com/rokh