Wednesday, 26 March 2014

LOST IN SPACE

Outside Nowhere is the second album by Roman band Taproban and was released in 2003 on the independent label Mellow Records. The line up is the same as on its predecessor, Ogni pensiero vola, and features Gianluca De Rossi (keyboards, organ, Minimoog, vocals), Guglielmo Mariotti (bass, 12-string acoustic guitar, Moog, vocals) and Davide Guidoni (drums, percussion) but here the overall sound is enhanced by the special guest Alessandro Papotto (sax - from Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and Periferia del Mondo) who took part to the recording sessions. If you like bands such as Le Orme, Emerson Lake & Palmer or Quatermass I'm sure you will not be disappointed by this interesting work where the music flows steadily taking you across the space. In fact, this is a concept album dedicated to the memory of Russian cosmonaut Komarov and to all the other space-flights pioneers...

Taproban 2004

The short instrumental opener “At the Fifteenth Orbit” sets the atmosphere. As you can read in the beautiful booklet, Komarov, aboard of the Soyuz 1, returned to Earth after fifteen orbits around the planet and this track tries to capture the feelings of the cosmonaut before his return trip...

The following “Outside Nowhere” is a long instrumental suite divided into six parts. The first part, “The Mission”, features a dark atmosphere and a haunting marching beat that develops in a kind of strange bolero. It takes you back in time as a flashback, when everything started and the space mission was planned. The following section, “The Last Goodbye”, is warmer and lightened by the sound of Alessandro Papotto's sax that evokes the strong emotions of the departure. On the third section, “The launch”, you can hear the countdown while the rhythm takes off like a glider: here the music reminds me of some counterpoints by Le Orme... Next comes “Outside Nowhere”, the fourth section which describes in some way the feelings that an astronaut can experience during his long flight... Komarov: oh, what a Lucky Man he was! The last two sections, “Return To...” and “...A New World”, take us on the way back with new perspectives and a strong sense of hope.

Broken Shell” is a short acoustic ballad sung in English that tells about the sense of solitude and restless inquietude that seizes the astronaut when he thinks of his ex-sweetheart... “Now my life is a broken shell / I need a place to go far away... But there’s no place that is safe from you / And in spite of my strong will / You will be anywhere, forever with me...”.


Il difficile equilibrio tra sorgenti d’energia” (The difficult balance between sources of energy) is a beautiful track featuring Italian vocals that evokes infinite spheres clashing one against each other, ruled by mysterious laws that, sooner or later, will make them melt in a black void... “Long is the fighting between sources of energy / One against each other / One against each other...”.

veS ml’ tagHach” (Klingon War Dance) is track full of obscure energy. It features some martial passages, some exotic touches and fiery keyboards rides. The title refers to a fictional extraterrestrial warrior species in the 1960s television series Star trek...

The following “Pieces Left Behind” reminds me of some Pink Floyd's atmospheres and features some vocal parts in English drenched with nostalgia. Feeling alone and lost in the space, our astronaut is looking forward to the return trip because he has realized that the world leaves a mark on you and you can't really escape from it... “In this place is it always day-time? / Is it always night-time? / I really don’t know / World, I’m coming back...”.

In The Deep” is a short track full of tension that describes the dive of the space ship towards the Earth. The mood is dark and in some way you can feel an impending sense of tragedy in the air. It leads to the final track, “Nexus” that recalls the early works of Franco Battiato. It features some beautiful sax lines and filtered vocals in Italian... “I sent signals as I was moving between sound waves / Visualizing my dream among dark interferences...”. According to the booklet the voice that you can hear in the background is really the voice of Komanov, but you can't hear the final explosion. As you probably know, the Soyuz 1 crushed on the ground...

On the whole, an interesting work with a nice art-work by Davide Guidoni that maybe describes its atmospheres and content better than all my words.

You can listen in streaming to the complete album HERE

Taproban: Outside Nowhere (2004). Other opinions:
Dave Sissons: While this is unlikely to top anyone’s “best of year” lists, it is a pleasing work with much to offer the old school prog fan. It manages to steer clear of the bombastic overkill employed by Japanese proponents of similar music (Ars Nova, Gerard) and also avoids the overt metal influences that are currently in vogue with many Neo-Prog groups (Star One, Aryeon). All in all, this is an agreeable album for all fans of keyboard prog... (read the complete review HERE)

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Sunday, 23 March 2014

THE HELL OF MUSICIANS

L'inferno dei musici (The hell of musicians) is the fourth studio album by Oloferne, an Italian band from Chiaravalle, a little town in the province of Ancona. This interesting album was self-released in 2014 with a beautiful packaging featuring an art cover taken from the triptych called The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch, that in some way depicts its content. In fact, according to an interview with the band, this album represents an existential choice: - on the album everything - music, lyrics and artwork - symbolizes a full immersion into the world of art, a true descent into hell, both for the musicians who play and for the listener. The album is a poetical manifesto of the musician's path, we portray an imaginary world through the eyes of a musician who, by describing it, disappears...


Oloferne's roots date back to 1999 and the current line up features Alessandro Piccioni (vocals, flute, bass, guitar), Giacomo Medici (vocals, guitar, percussion), Gianluca Agostinelli (electric and acoustic guitars), Giuseppe Cardamone (violin) and Marco Medici (drums, percussion). There are no keyboardists involved in this project but the overall sound is rich and all the instruments perfectly interact weaving an original music fabric that draws from sources of inspiration ranging from Celtic folk to classical music, from progressive rock to Italian canzone d'autore. Well, an album that I think is really worth listening to...

Oloferne 2014

The lively opener, “Invictus”, is an excellent instrumental track that blends elements of Celtic folk, Vivaldi and Jethro Tull. It begins softly by violin and percussion, then the other instruments join adding new colours and musical flavours. The following “Danza macabra”, depicts a strange dance under the moon where you can see skeletons and headless bodies frantically move while sinners and saints play the dice of a broken Fate... “Have you already heard the darkest note of such a kind of music? / The moon will be queen of the skull that is whistling... Stop your march, the danse macabre is playing for you...”. Then comes the short “We Have No Heads”, in the same mood, where the band interpret in a personal way Traditional Irish Folk Song by Denis Leary.

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The title track, “L'inferno dei musici” (The hell of musicians), is the main course of the album. It's a beautiful suite divided into three parts that starts with a calm section based on an acoustic guitar arpeggio... “Here with us you'll drink the music of the spheres / On the back the sounds are shivers / It's the garden of earthly delight that is waiting for you / Here your damnation is your strength / Take my hands, forget your limits...”. The seducing lyrics invite you to relax and follow the enchanted sounds coming from a hurdy gurdy... “Cut off your ears / And wait for the raven that will fetch them...”. In the second section the rhythm rises while the dream becomes a nightmare and you risk to get lost in a ring-around-the-rosey, you're surrounded by satyrs and feeling like a smiling crucifix on the verge of madness, sentenced to the gallows with your harp as a scaffold. An excellent instrumental part concludes the suite.

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Soldati di memoria” (Soldiers of memory) is a folk ballad veined of electricity that conjures up the ghosts of unknown soldiers, victims of useless battles, slaves of blood and glory. They're the forgotten children of a dream that the music brings back to life... “Fragments of mud, fragments of history / Drops of dew wake the memory up... Now they're dreaming dancing stars / They are drops of air tightened in a single note...”.

Then comes “Impressioni di settembre” (Impressions of September) a PFM's cover interpreted with good personality where violin and electric guitar play in turn the role of Moog. The last track, “Profezie del tempo” (Prophecies of Time), is a sweet acoustic ballad, a kind of timeless prayer celebrating music and harmony... “Don't ask me why / My God is the wind / Do not heed Time's prophecies... Caress the string of that fiddle / An ancient sound will show us the way / Time and space are trunks and chains / That a flute can lift up and transform into snow...”. Well, a splendid finale for a very nice piece of art!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

GOOD VIBRATIONS

Vibrazioni liquide” (Liquid vibrations), Malaavia’s second album, is mainly the brainchild of Pas Scarpato, bassist, guitarist, vocalist, composer, lyricist and only founder member in the present line-up of the band that now features also Joe La Viola (flute, sax, oboe, cymbals), Helèna Biagioni (vocals), Jacov Leone (drums), Sebastiano Mazzoleni (keyboards) and Donato Zoppo (narrative vocals). With the help of some guest musicians, in 2008 they recorded this concept album full of spirituality, inviting you to search for higher levels of knowledge and wisdom. “Vibrations shake and make the walls inside you crumble... You have to be liquid... You can find the truth only inside you!”. The result, in my opinion, is definitely better than Malaavia’s debut album. The music has a strong Mediterranean flavour and it could recall bands as Abash or Radiodervish but you can also feel the love of the band for classic prog masters as Le Orme, BMS and PFM...


The opener “Deus dementat?” is a beautiful instrumental where acoustic “ethnic” elements blend with a powerful electric guitar and it could recall some works of Al Di Meola... It’s a perfect introduction for the excellent second track “Lakmidi” that begins with a Middle Eastern melody. The interaction of Pas Scarpato, Sophya Baccini and Helèna Biagioni vocals is perfect and the “musical fabric” extremely rich (there’s even a didgeridoo!). The lyrics are about the mysterious people of Lakhmidis, their cruel rites and prayers... “They pass by like killing wolves shadows, silently / What a traffic of camels, Bedouins, women, slaves / And they don’t talk / And they don’t laugh... Every now and again they stop and pray when the night is falling...”.

The next track, “Listen To The Voices”, is like a delicate, bittersweet, multiethnic and melodic prayer... “Voices spreading in the air of the evening / Voices that you can hear from here / They sing the sad litany of a prayer... Shemà shemà Israel / Listen to the voices today...”. The vocals in the dialect of Naples by Gianni Lamagna (Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare) give additional value to this invocation for freedom.


The long “Vagando” (Wandering) features a darker atmosphere with vintage keyboards and melancholic vocals that come out as if “wandering in the shadows” and lead to the next track “La rosa” (The rose) on the notes of a solitary sax... After a short instrumental intro the dreamy vocals of Helèna Biagioni soar bringing hope and light... “New eyes for the invisible / New ears for the inaudible / New senses for what you can’t gather... The rose of the desert leads you to the laws of light...”.

Malaavia 2008

Il cedro” (The Cedar) is a beautiful acoustic ballad featuring lyrics taken from the Bible (Ezekiel 17: 22,24). “I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the field will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish...”.


Elevazione (recitativo)” (Elevation) is another acoustic track featuring a beautiful melodic part of oboe and spoken words full of hope... “One day you will slowly see what the sky is and you will touch it with your hands... Open your arms to the infinite...”. On the sound of a bell then comes “Salmo di Lode Universale”, a hymn in Latin taken from the Christian tradition and musically inspired by Monteverdi.

The last track is an excellent long suite in five parts, “Stati superiori (suite in 5 movimenti)”, where the music tries to describe a kind of spiritual path leading from “Crisis” to “Sleep”, from the “Spirit Awakening” to “Beatitude” through a new beginning... “The time is coming / Open the doors of your night / Show the light to your shadows...”.



Friday, 21 March 2014

THROUGH BALMS OF INCENSE

Malaavia began life in Naples in 1998 on the initiative of Pas Scarpato. After some line up changes and a good live activity, in 2004 the band released a début album on the independent label Ma.Ra.Cash., Danze d'incenso, with a line up featuring Pas Scarpato (bass, guitars, vocals), Oderigi Lusi (organ, piano, keyboards, synthesizers, accordion, backing vocals), Lucio Fontana (drums), Solimena Casoria (flute, vocals) and Egidio Napolitano (percussion) plus numerous prestigious guests such as Michele Mutti (synthesizer, from La Torre dell'Alchimista), Lino Vairetti (vocals, from Osanna) or Giovanni Mauriello (vocals, from Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare) just to name but a few. The result is an interesting album, very rich in ideas but where, in my opinion, is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. You can recognize many different influences ranging from Le Orme to Osanna, from classical music to ragtime, from disco music to rap, but the blending is not always convincing. The album is divided into three long suites where you can find some brilliant passages but also some weak points that risk to spoil the pleasure of listening to it.

Malaavia 2000

The opener “Sequenza prima: delle danze” (First sequence: of the dances) begins with a very promising instrumental part, “Preludio di luna piena” (Prelude of full moon), featuring classical influences and a dreamy mood, then comes “Abraham, where is the land?”, with lyrics swinging from Italian to English to Neapolitan dialect evoking the contradictions of the tormented countries of Middle-East, a promised land ravaged by war and culture clashes. There are some beautiful melodic lines with male and female vocals and a raging rap break... “Panic and terror in the streets and markets of Damascus / Blooding children who pay the horror of a war / Land, land that will never come...”. Then, suddenly, the music and lyrics take you across the Sahara desert to the streets of Marrakesh, a melting pot of cultures, colours and sounds... Hints of ragtime and ethnic sounds lead to the weak final part, “Kyrie Eleyson”, and its disconcerting, horrible disco-beat.

album cover

The second suite, “Sequenza seconda: della conoscenza” (Second sequence: of the knowledge), begins by piano and vocals, then ethnic instruments joins contributing to evoke some mysterious shadows creeping on: the ancient shadows of life, harmony and love. The first part, “Ombre” (Shadows) fades into the ethereal second section, “Gnòti sautòn (conosci te stesso)” (Know yourself), where reality becomes uncertain and beautiful melodies soar in a living dream... “Gnoti sautòn, the truth is just inside you / If the music will resist / Your soul will listen to new notes... An orchestra will play a symphonic music...”. Unfortunately what comes after is not a symphony but a disco-pop section, “Vie interne” (Internal ways), that abruptly breaks the dreamy mood... “We are the travellers of the internal ways / We are looking for eternal truths / Wandering souls of the internal ways / We are looking for ancient truths...”. Then a delicate piano interlude, “Softmoon”, leads to “Cuori d'elettricità” (Hearts of electricity), a section that in some way reminds me of Franco Battiato's works from the eighties... “Animality, mechanicality / We are bodies / We are hearts of electricity...”. A distorted electric guitar solo, “Hominem quaero”, follows and a final explosion concludes the sequence.


The third suite, “Sequenza terza: tra balsami d'incenso” (Third sequence: through balms of incense), starts with an instrumental section, “Interludio sospeso” (Suspended interlude), featuring a dark mood and a strong classical influence with strings in the forefront. It leads to “Vivi nascosto” (Live hidden), another nice section that recalls Franco Battiato with lyrics telling you that you've better hide from false priests and easy goals, from false paradises and sophisms... A beautiful, dreamy instrumental section follows, “Danza d'incenso” (Dance of incense), bringing a touch of exoticism and Middle Eastern flavours. It fades into “Mezzaluna fertile” (Fertile crescent moon), a bitter-sweet part with lyrics in Italian and Neapolitan dialect about the absurdity of the never ending war that Christians, Hebrews and Muslims are fighting in Palestine. Rap, Italian melody and Bach are mixed together with a very peculiar effect. Then comes the sound of a gong that introduces an acoustic guitar passage evoking a peaceful landscape, “Locus amoenus”. The following section, “Canzone di Giuseppe” (Joseph's song) is dedicated to the character of Saint Joseph and reminds me slightly of the atmospheres of Fabrizio De André's album La buona novella, recently reinterpreted by Premiata Forneria Marconi. The conclusive section, “Coda di luna calante” (Tail of waning moon), is a magnificent instrumental featuring murmured vocals in the background reciting some verses by Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio... “Oppressed in love, in pleasure, the people of the world of the living are asleep... O waning scythe, what a harvest of dreams ripples in your mild and diffuse light down here!”.

On the whole, I think that despite the many ups and downs this is an album that is worth listening to. A mention also for the beautiful album cover painted by Domizia Parri that maybe describes the content better than all my words.

Malaavia: Danze d'incenso (2004). Other opinions:
Thomas Szirmay: This is another fine example of Italian proficiency in progressive rock field, combining local and foreign influences to create memorable music and exemplary playing. RPI is akin to Italian cuisine, there are a lot of combinations, flavors and aromas that can go into the pan, while still keeping to long held traditions... (read the complete review HERE)

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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A FINE MUSICAL BREWERY

Le Distillerie di Malto come from Ortona, in the province of Chieti, and began life in the late eighties playing covers of prog rock bands such as Jethro Tull, Genesis or King Crimson. In 2001 they self released an interesting début album featuring original compositions, Il manuale dei piccoli discorsi. In 2014, after a long hiatus, le Distillerie di Malto came finally back with a brand new album released on the French label Musea Records and titled Suono! (Sound!). The current line up features Marco Angelone (guitar), Fabiano Cudazzo (keyboards), Alessio Palizzi (drums), Fabrizio Pellicciaro (vocals, guitar) and Giuliano Torelli (bass) but two former members, Maurizio Di Tollo (drums) and Luca Latini (flute) contributed to the recording sessions and are credited as special guests. The final result of their work is absolutely worth listening to and I'm sure that Italianprog lovers will appreciate it.


The opener “Prefazione” is just a short instrumental intro with a mystical atmosphere that leads to the following “Il guardiano” (The keeper), a beautiful track that deals with environmental issues. The music and lyrics depict men ravaging the banks of lakes and rivers while Mother Nature, as for magic, starts to cry. There are new dreams, new hands at work and new faces, then pains and tears as the seasons change and rage rises. The soul of the keeper of this injured Earth is in fire, the air is polluted, the trees are dying... There's nothing to do, men are prisoners of their greediness and they will never be free without any respect for their environment.

Album cover

The long, complex “Il suono seducente del sogno” (The seducing sound of dream) is an excellent track that deals, as you can guess, with music and dreams... “Every dream comes to life in a magic castle / When the day will come, go in and don't close the door / You will find spears and shields, cold blood and mercy, the boldness of the heroes and a soaring music...”. The magic castle of music and dreams is a nice metaphor for the need of a shelter from the daily grind, but beware! The charm of those magic sounds is dangerous and you could risk to become nothing but a slave of your dreams while reality looms outside.

Then comes “Nemesi” (Nemesis), a track full of dark energy that was inspired by Greek mythology. Nemesis was a goddess representing the idea of divine retribution and this track tries to capture in music and words the spirit of the righteous vengeance by depicting a loveless sense of justice without light inside, cold and cynical... “It is useless to anneal your strength / A body is nothing but a heap of snow / It melts in the first sunshine / To jump higher, to run faster / What does really matter is the soul...”.

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Rovescia l'immaginazione e scopri la realtà” (Reverse your imagination and discover the reality) is a beautiful instrumental where the members of the band can showcase all their musicianship and where frenzied passages alternates with calm, dreamy sections, heavy guitar riffs with surging organ rides. It leads to the second part of “Il suono seducente del sogno (parte II)” where the light, gauzy mist of a never ending dream lays on everything... “This music plays inside me / I will never run away from this dream...”.

Lorca e Dalì” is a long, complex track inspired by poetry and painting. It features ethereal atmospheres and narrative vocals where words are just touches of colour on the evocative musical texture. Golden angels drink your soul while your eyes are burnt by dreams, you look for a meaning but you can't find a clue, you can't find the key to gates of dream and you get lost... The following “The Sun” is a short acoustic track sung in English that closes the album with a mystical mood and in some way takes you back to the starting point.

On the whole, a very good album. Welcome back Distillerie di Malto!

Distillerie di Malto: Suono! (2014). Other opinions:
Raffella Benvenuto-Berry: Though Suono! (whose rather minimalist cover runs counter to the widespread trend for elaborate, often fantasy-tinged artwork) lays no claims to being a wildly innovative effort, the sheer quality of the musicianship and songwriting set it apart from other similar releases, and reveals the care and effort that the band have put into its production. The music's complexity is never overdone, and melody co-exists with intense, dramatic pssages, with a warm, natural flow that makes listening a pleasure. Needless to say, this is a must-listen for fans of classic Italian prog, and a rewarding proposition for everyone else... (Read the complete review HERE)

Michael "Aussie-Byrd-Brother": Not only does `Suono' offer incredibly strong song-writing and thrilling instrumental arrangements, there's a refreshing leave-it-alone quality to the production that retains many welcome rough edges. While it contains all the theatrical dra ma and swooning sophistication expected of Italian progressive releases, there are so many moments of dark impossible beauty, a creeping sense of unease lurking throughout the work, giving it some grit and edge. It just may be one of the best modern Italian released of the last few years... (read the complete review HERE


Thursday, 13 March 2014

THE GOLDEN SHIELD

Egida Aurea is a project that began life in Genoa in 2006 on the initiative of Diego Banchero and Carolina Cecchinato, both coming out from the experience with another band called Recondita Stirpe. After a first Ep released in 2007 and titled Storia di una rondine, in 2010 they released an excellent full length début album on the independent label HR!SPQR, La mia piccola guerra (My little war), with a line up featuring, along with Diego Banchero (bass, backing vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitars) and Carolina Cecchinato (lead and backing vocals) also Fernando Cherchi (accordion), Marco Garegnani (acoustic guitars), Claudio Dondo (keyboards), Davide Bruzzi (electric guitars), Roberto Lucanato (acoustic guitars), Max Mantovani (drums) and Antonio Losenno (percussion) plus some backing vocalists. Despite the numerous musicians involved in the recording sessions and the tight links with bands such as Il Segno del Comando or Il Ballo delle Castagne, on this work the acoustic atmospheres prevail and there's always a perfect balance between music and lyrics. The main sources of inspiration range from neo folk to Italian canzone d'autore, but the musical recipe is sprinkled with a nice progressive taste and Mediterranean flavours.

Egida Aurea 2010

The first two tracks evoke some dark ghosts from the seventies, the Years of Lead. The title track is a beautiful ballad dealing with the issue of terrorism. There's a warm empathy in the vocal parts sung by Carolina Cecchinato while the lyrics try to explore the feelings of a young woman who chooses the clandestine ways of armed fight to express her contempt against what she perceives as a tyrannical society... “I will carry with me your words, a few rags and these guns / Maybe I wasn't made for love / Everyone who was born wolf will never fly... The way of spiritual life is not disconnected from action...”. There's no celebration of terrorism here but an effort to understand why so many young people, both of the right and of the left wing, in the seventies chose the deathly ways of extreme political fight after fighting a tearing inner combat with their conscience.

album cover

Memorie di gesta” (Memories of deeds) is a lively track that in some way celebrates an episode of urban guerrilla. A mob charge the police who have to retreat, a young woman observes the scene and after an inner struggle decides to join the rioters. There's empathy in the vocals but here violence is kept in the background as the memories of that day emerge from the past like a flash of light that cuts the darkness. According to their website, Egida Aurea's project is not politically committed but simply deals with the artistic side of an extinct past and an oppressed present, and intends to stay away from the way modern world is run. So, it doesn't matter if these memories come out from the seventies or refer to the riots in Genoa during the G8 in 2001, the lyrics just invite you to reflect about the reasons of such a kind of behaviour... “In these leaden forest / Memories of deeds echo right now / In this anomalous day / Where delay gives room to action...”.


Il passo dell'esule” (The pace of the exile) is reflective and melancholic. There's a feeling of nostalgia, the lyrics are partially sung in English and depict a man drenched in a deep sorrow who has to leave his land on account of his ideals. Time flies... “No East no West no lands to reign / No time to stay with you again / No seas to sail no walls to scrape / But only salt lakes of pain...”. The instrumental coda is excellent, but maybe too short!

Gli sguardi nel sole” (The glances in the sun) is a nice ballad about time passing by. The youth is gone but broken hopes and dreams are still blowing in the wind... “Can you stop Time? / When it flows running after the wind / Into my memories I escape from reality / I look at the sun, as it once was... / The wind is still singing / With words that I can't forget...”.


Lo zar non è morto” (The tsar is not dead) features atmospheres and rhythms that recall Don Cossacks. According to an interview with the band, the lyrics represent not only a criticism against the era of the Soviet Union but an effort to explore the poignant sense of identity and nationality of Russian people that is so difficult to understand in the Western World.

Epifania di una chimera” (Epiphany of a Chimaera) is calm and reflective. It deals with social changes and new ideas. The birth of an idea is never the result of one mind, that thought appears simultaneously in a thousand other souls... “Already new acolytes are joining the new vision of the world / Light of a new dawn, plague the curtain of darkness!”.

Egida aurea” (Golden aegis) is an ethereal ballad featuring strummed acoustic guitar and a martial rhythm. In Greek mythology the aegis was a shield carried by gods as Zeus or Athena. Here the word is used in a metaphorical sense, as a way of life to survive in a world that is crumbling, where order and ideals melt and every resistance is useless.


Il congedo” (Farewell) recalls some atmospheres from Fabrizio De André's album Storia di un impiegato. The lyrics evoke the final farewell of some losers, some people who lost their battle against an oppressive society and now get ready to meet their destiny on the gallows with a smiling face and an intact pride. This piece reminds me of Alexandre Dumas' novel The Companions of Jéhu...

The final track, “L'ultimo valzer” (The last waltz), features a slow, solemn pace and describes in music and words an imaginary funeral, the funeral of civilization that flows under the rain in sad day where faith, ideals and memory get lost.

On the whole, I think that this is a very interesting album. Music and lyrics are tightly bound and non Italian speaker might miss many nuances, but I really think that this work is worth listening to, especially if you like bands such as Ianva or Il Segno del Comando.

More info:

Monday, 10 March 2014

Sunday, 9 March 2014

DREAMS ON THE EDGE OF TIME

Timeline were formed in 2006 in the province of Bergamo on the initiative of Davide Tasca and Claudio Albergoni. The name of the band refers to a famous novel by Michael Crichton were the borders between past and present get blurred and their dream was to start a new creative experience composing original music influenced by progressive rock and metal. After a demo in 2009 and a good live activity on the local scene, in 2013 they self released an interesting début album titled New Dreams... New Hopes with a line up featuring Claudio Albergoni (guitar), Davide Tasca (bass), Daniele Cattaneo (keyboards), Stefano Bruzzi (drums) and Maurizio Jacopo Andriolo (vocals). The result of their efforts is a good mix of influences ranging from the classic masters of prog from the seventies to newer bands with a sharper edge.


The nice opener “The Birth Of Man” is a long, complex suite divided into three parts. It's sung in English and the music and lyrics deal with environmental issues depicting in a visionary way the evolution of humankind. It begins with The Creation Of The Earth, an instrumental part featuring an excellent interaction between keyboards and guitars that leads to the middle section, Mother Gaia, where the Earth appears like a beautiful, colourful entity from space, queen of the world. On account of her boredom she gives birth to Man. The final part, The Human Singularity, tells about the evolution of humankind: from ape to man, from fire to writing... But things go wrong and men, blinded by greediness and power end up tearing apart their creator.

La mia falsa guida” (My false guide) is a short track sung in Italian that describes a metaphoric journey through Hell. There are some references to Dante Alighieri and his Divine Comedy but there's no dark wood here and this Hell is real, it's just ordinary life on Earth. The protagonist gets lost and there's no Virgil to lead him along his journey to the centre of a hell that is wilder and deeper than you can imagine... “Where is my guide? She is invisible / The more I look for her the more I feel her glance distant from me...”.


Wret2” is a dark instrumental full of energy that leads to the following “Searching The Precious Smile”, a track featuring sharp guitar riffs and metal influences. It describes in music and words a frenzied, nervous quest through the streets of a big city for the most precious treasure... a smile! Then comes the reflective “Moments Of Life”, a kind of short mini suite divided into five parts where the mind flies through forgotten memories and the past emerges from some old pictures.

The long, complex “Un gioco di fiducia” (A play of trust) is my favourite track on the album. It's a beautiful suite sung in Italian and divided into four parts that in some way tells about the thaumaturgic power of friendship and trust, a power that can save you from the threatening, raging seas of life that can submerge you and hurt you so bad to transform you in a solitary castaway. In my opinion it's a real pity that the band didn't exploit more their native language since the vocalist seems more at ease when singing in Italian and the poetical, evocative force of the lyrics here is stronger than ever.

video

Then comes the anti-militaristic “Wake up... New Black Dawn” that is divided into two parts. The first part is full of positive energy and describes a new day under the sky of freedom while the second part is darker and depicts a new, gloomy day where the masters of war rule and you're living a nightmare under a bloody sky of slavery and contempt. The conclusive track, “The Way Of Respect”, is in the same mood and tells in music and lyrics the feelings of a men who was injured during a bomb attack where a girl got killed.

On the whole, I think that this work is really worth listening to and that Timeline have a good potential. Anyway, you can legally download the album and the nice booklet from the official website: so, have a try and judge by yourselves!




Friday, 7 March 2014

AUTUMNAL COLOURS

Cooperativa del Latte were formed in the mid nineties in the province of Gorizia and in 1998 released a beautiful début album, “Il risveglio” (The awakening), on the independent label Mellow Records. The line-up features Gabriele Benfatto (guitars, vocals), Claudio Farneti (flute, drums, percussion), Sergio Contin (bass, vocals) and Pierluigi Piccoli (piano, keyboards) and their sound largely draws upon 1970’s influences but despite the vintage sounds the song-writing is good and rich in ideas. I had the chance to see them live on stage, opening a concert for Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, and I was favourably impressed. I think that the excellent art work by Ivan Crico, a painter and writer born in Gorizia, perfectly describes in autumnal colours the reflective, crepuscular mood of this work...


The opener “Verso i cancelli della memoria” (Towards the gates of memory) is a kind of dive into the past for a swim against the tide, against the doubts of an empty reality. A church-like organ sets the atmosphere, then the rhythm takes off... “Running after myths of wind / Looking for a living star / Overcoming a world of falsity and appearances... Listening to the silent voice of a timeless truth...”.

Contemplazione” (Contemplation) is a long, melancholic track that begins softly, with a simple, nocturnal acoustic guitar arpeggio, then a light turns on and soaring thoughts begin to fly in the wind... A sudden change in rhythm and the call of an ancient time rises from dreamy organ chords inviting you to set your mind free... “Who do you think your greatest enemy is? / It’s your own home, it’s your own body / It’s your own mind, it’s you / Free yourself from the monsters fed by your pride and your stupid vanity / What is the road you think will lead you to the Right? / Even your brain is getting lost on the paths of solitude...”.

Cooperativa del Latte

Notte volante” (Flying night) begins on the dreamy notes of a flute and of an acoustic guitar... “I’ve been walking for you / In the nights of dream / Among breathing plants I followed the road smelling of forest / Towards far bonfires / I was still sane...”. In dreams you can even play with death but remember that dreams could turn to nightmares... “Now there’s nothing but pain / Just powder shut in a little box / You are my death / I live for you just because you know how to make me laugh...”.

The cathartic “Il respiro dell’alba” (The breath of the dawn) is introduced by a delicate pattern featuring piano and flute. The vocals are just whispered... “I would like to go down to the stream / In the early morning silence / When everything comes to a new life / To find again the warmth of life in the cool water...”. The references to Le Orme are strong and in the second part of this piece there’s even a particular vinyl sound...



Tentazioni” (Temptations) is more aggressive and complex and also features some jazzy passages. Love can be deceitful and cruel, your unfaithful lover could make you fall into the breath of an icy abyss... “Your hand pushes me in the mud / Setting your thighs free for a new trick...”.

Maggio” (May) is a short instrumental introduction to the beautiful last track, “Indagazione strutturale” (Structural investigation). This piece has a strong Renaissance flavour and starts “a cappella”... “Like a tree in the forest of time or a cloud living in the sundown / I’m looking for something I feel I belong to...”. The lyrics are about the eternal search for knowledge while the music could recall some works of Angelo Branduardi with some “deep red” acoustic passages... “I feel the weight of my pride / But I’m walking with the curious pace of man... Before all knowledge I feel my heart pulsing...”.

 
You can listen in streaming to the complete album HERE

 

Thursday, 6 March 2014



LATTE E MIELE
 +
 IL TEMPIO DELLE CLESSIDRE  

 Live in Genoa
April 4, 2014


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Monday, 3 March 2014

HOPE AND TIME

I Marchesi Scamorza come from Ferrara and began life in 2009, mainly influenced by Premiata Forneria Marconi and Fabrizio De André. After a first demo EP in 2011, in 2012 they self-released a début album titled La sposa del tempo (Time's bride) with a line up featuring Lorenzo Romani (electric guitar), Alessandro Padovani (drums), Paolo Brini (bass), Enrico Bernardini (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Enrico Cazzola (keyboards). The overall sound is good and the band showcase good musicianship and song-writing skills although the vocal parts in my opinion are not always convincing. The influence of the Italian prog masters of the seventies and Italian canzone d'autore are apparent but there's no plagiarism and the band managed to add original ideas to their musical fabric. According to an interview with the band, La sposa del tempo is a concept album sui generis where all the tracks are linked by a common thread: Time. The lyrics are hermetic and their meaning is open to many interpretations but the album cover by Giulia Pasetti and Jacopo Regulti tries to offer some clues.




The short opener “Intro” in some way sets the atmosphere with experimental sounds and words that remind us that Time is nothing but hope. It leads to “Sentieri di carta” (Paper paths), a ballad that starts with a strummed acoustic guitar pattern. The lyrics conjure up the ghost of a mysterious, proud knight without a mouth to breath. His words get lost under his steps, ancestral fears begin to rise while you think of flying free in the night. Dull eyes are burning but everyone has got his cross to carry along his way... “Words of lead, words of of flesh / Under the churches, under the soles...”. The music is not bad but, to be honest, this track fails to strike a chord on me.
 
The following “Lo schiavo di Babilonia” (The slave of Babylon) is better. It begins by a delicate piano intro and features many changes in rhythm and mood. The lyrics draw powerful, poetical images of redemption and hope. Babylon here is a metaphor for a life of sin. What kind of sin? Maybe pride, adultery, blasphemy or perjury... But even a damned life can be redeemed by love! A soul that burns as paper, a lost path on the side of a huge golden tower, silent clocks inside a church... Images can speak more than a thousand words... “The balance is broken on the weight of the heart / Time is just a hope...”.


L’uomo dall’ombra lunga” (The man with a long shadow) is reflective and melancholic. It draws the imagine of a man lost in his thoughts, ready to challenge his fate at every crossroad, following his meaningless dreams while his life slides away and stretches out behind him like his shadow.

The following “Un passo ogni parola” (One step on every word) begins softly with a mysterious atmosphere, then the rhythm rises and every now and again reminds me of Premiata Forneria Marconi. The lyrics depict an imaginary dialogue between a man and a poet about pain and fear, shadows and lights, good and evil. It's getting dark and they're walking along a solitary road, carried away by their feelings... “Poet, do not cry / There's already someone who's crying for you... Step after step you'll see the sun again along with me...”.

Marchesi Scamorza 2012

Quelle volte” (Those times) is a simple, melodic track about hope and dreams. The lyrics invite you to never give up when you're feeling blue. When you're waiting in vain for a saviour, you have to open your heart and try to imagine a better world and follow your dreams... In my opinion this is the weakest track on the whole album.

Il castello delle stagioni” (The castle of the seasons) is definitely better. It's a long, complex piece that begins with a nice acoustic guitar passage and the sound of a storm in the background. The lyrics tell about a young woman who lies in a castle where Time stands still and memories run free... “In a distant place lies a bride / Golden tears and dancing lights / Love thoughts of a thousand colours...”. Just a beautiful, timeless dream!


Nelle notti più lontane” (In the most distant nights) tells of another dream where you can see a white ship sailing across the ocean. It's a piano ballad that fades into the more complex final track “Autunno” (Autumn) forming a kind of beautiful suite... Very brightly did the moon shine on the night I answered the call, and I walked out over the waters to the White Ship on a bridge of moonbeams. The man who had beckoned now spoke a welcome to me in a soft language I seemed to know well, and the hours were filled with soft songs of the oarsmen as we glided away into a mysterious South, golden with the glow of that full, mellow moon... Well, I think that this quote from a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, The White Ship, in some way can help to describe the content of the last two pieces, a kind of fairy tale where you can find madness and fear, hope and dreams... “Who knows what's the light of the world / This purity that turns around us / Please, take me away with these Autumn leaves...”.

On the whole this album is not flawless but features some really good tracks and it's worth listening to. In my opinion, this young band have a great potential and I'm looking forward to their next album.


Marchesi Scamorza: La sposa del tempo (2012). Other opinions:
Michael “Aussie-Byrd-Brother”: The album is far from perfect. In some spots there's probably too many vocal sections, and Bernardini occasionally has a monotonous and flat range. Sometimes he nails it, other times he's a bit strained, but it shows a refreshing honesty and says a lot about how the band support each other. I have no doubt he will keep improving, because on his best tracks here he's extremely effective. Some listeners will find the mix of different genres a bit frustrating, but most likely their next release will hopefully focus a little more on one particular style and really offer us more on an idea where they're headed. But I also have a feeling some will really love the diversity and range the band has shown here and greatly enjoy the album... (read the complete review HERE)

More info:
http://www.marchesiscamorza.com/ 
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marchesi-Scamorza/137623519608159