Monday, 25 September 2017

BLACK MAGIC REVIVED

Magia Nera come from La Spezia and their roots date back to the late sixties under the name Nuova Esperienza. In 1969 they changed their name into Magia Nera (Black Magic), inspired by the sounds of bands such as Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and Deep Purple and started playing covers and composing original material. In the early seventies the band had a good live activity on the local scene and took part with a good success to some music festivals such as the Free Festival Pop of Bottagna. When all was ready for a deal with the label Magma Records something went wrong and the band split up without recording anything... More than forty years later Magia Nera reunited with almost all the original members to complete what they had left behind. In 2017 Magia Nera finally released their debut album, L'ultima danza di Ophelia, on the independent label Akarma Records, distributed by Black Widow Records. The current line up features the veterans Emilio Farro (vocals), Pino Fontana (drums), Lionello Accardo (bass) and Bruno Cencetti (electric guitar) plus Andrea Foce (keyboards) who replaced Orazio Colotto. The overall sound is definitively vintage and I'm sure that fan of seventies Italian prog will appreciate this work...


The dark opener "Ophelia" depicts in music and words a scene from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. The bass lines introduce a ghost dance under the moon, soon joined by the other instruments... The unfortunate Ophelia floats on the fresh waters of a brook, carried away by the current. Her corpse is moving under a willow tree, for a moment her dress is tangled up in the branches. She seems almost dancing… It was Ophelia’s last dance: now what is left is nothing but a choir of dark sirens and some salt tears mixed to the sweet waters of the brook...

The long, melancholic "Il passo del lupo" (The wolf step) tells about the last hours of a proud loser, a solitary fugitive who tries to run away from his destiny hiding in a dark forest like a wolf. Eventually the Dark Lady takes him in the land of eternal shadows and he accepts his fate without fear…


The following "La strega del lago" (The witch of the lake) depicts in deep purple colours a very strange kind of woman, a powerful bloodthirsty vampire summoned during an obscure rite from the dark waters of a lake, Lady of shadows and darkness, owner of the the most profound abysses of your soul... It leads to the lively "La tredicesima luna" (The thirteenth moon), a short track that celebrates the mysteries of obscure rites where swords and dark powers draw magic circles and witches dance on the borders between different worlds.



"Suite - Oltre la vita" (Suite - Beyond life) is the main course of the album, a long, complex piece divided into ten parts. It starts softly with a dreamy mood, then the music and words build up a solid darkness that provides the perfect theater screen on which the mind could play its fantasies. The dance of death was about to begin, and already the strings of the fiddles and guitars were smoking and the stench of brimstone and cordite filled the air... In my opinion, this short quote from The Stand by Stephen King describes the atmosphere of this piece very well and even if there are no fiddles you can find here plenty of fiery organ passages and frenzied guitar riffs. The music alternates acoustic passages to electrical storms where you can feel dark presences, coming in steady inexorable waves while the poetical, hermetic lyrics draw disquieting, Gothic images rather than try to tell a story. The influences of bands such as Deep Purple, Black Sabbath or Uriah Heep are apparent but in the mix you can even listen to a short quote from The Funeral March of a Marionette (Marche funèbre d'une marionnette), a short piece by Charles Gounod best known as the theme music for the television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents. A very good piece!

Uriah Heep’s cover “Gypsy" closes an album that is really worth listening to and that deserves the attention of Italianprog lovers.

You can listen to the complete album HERE

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Sunday, 10 September 2017

SOLEMN READING

Ecfonetica come from the province of Viterbo and took shape in 2014 on the south banks of Bolsena Lake when composers Stefano Calandrelli (organ, piano, synth) and Walter Possieri (guitars, bass, drums, percussion, keyboards) teamed up to work on original material inspired by classical music and modern sounds. The name of the band comes from ancient Greek and means solemn reading: according to their website, the band chose it because it refers to the need of giving a graphical form to sounds and music. In 2015 Ecfonetica self-released an interesting debut album entitled Voci where they mix classical music, progressive rock and touches of post-rock with gusto and lightness.



The opener “Taranta” starts softly and is marked by the contrast between distorted electric guitar and piano. Then the rhythm rises and drives you through disquieting atmospheres and infernal dances. The following “Ad libitum” is calm and dreamy, almost ethereal with its light, slow pace and its soaring melodic patterns.

Meloria” is a beautiful piece that alternates moments of calm to stormy, aggressive passages. The title refers to a rocky islet, surrounded by a shoal, off the Tuscan coast, in the Ligurian Sea, near Livorno. The music in some way evokes echoes and ghosts of the Battle of Meloria fought on 5 and 6 August 1284 between the fleets of the Republics of Genoa and Pisa...



The dreamy “Quando” (When) leads to the short, martial “Passi” (Steps), then it’s the time of the mysterious “Oltre” (Beyond) where organ waves and piano passages every now and again remind me of some instrumental works by Le Orme.

On “Voci” (Voices) a beautiful melody soars slowly from background noises like a daydream from the daily grind of real life. The second part of this piece sounds like a magic, esoteric dance and contrasts with the next track, the short, classical inspired “Dolce ostinato”.


The last two tracks “Donna, donna, donna...” (Woman, woman, wman) and “Toccata” are two solo compositions, respectively by Walter Possieri and Stefano Calandrelli and they could be almost considered as bonus tracks…

You can listen to the complete album HERE


More info:



Wednesday, 21 June 2017

COPS, PIN-UPS AND MANIACS

Strato's is a musical project based in Parma that came to life in 2015 when five young musicians in love with the music and atmospheres of the Italian B-movies of the seventies joined their forces to play covers taken from the soundtracks of those films and original pieces inspired by artists such as Ennio Morricone, Franco Micalizzi, Piero Piccioni, Bruno Nicolai, Riz Ortolani, Goblin, Osanna, Carlo Rustichelli, Frizzi-Bixio-Tempera, Calibro 35 and others. The name of the band refers to The Lancia Stratos, a sports car and rally car very popular and successful in the seventies and the line up features Leonardo Barbieri (electric and acoustic guitar), Marco Mainardi (bass), Davide Sandrini (drums), Emanuele Nidi (electric organ, string machine, piano), Luis Pezzoli (percussion). After a good live activity on the local scene, in 2016 they released an interesting debut album on Retro Vox Records entitled Lo sbirro, la liceale, il maniaco (The cop, the high-school girl, the maniac), a tribute to the Italian cinema di genere of the seventies, in particular to poliziotteschi, sexy comedies and thriller/horror B-movies as suggested by the beautiful art cover by Matteo Xulli.


The album is divided in three parts, each one with three tracks. The first three tracks were inspired by the Italian crime films full of action, car chases and gunfights also known as poliziotteschi. The opener, "La Soffiata" (The leak) features some excerpts of dialogues taken from the film Roma a mano armata (The Tough Ones) directed by Umberto Lenzi. It starts with the call of an informer to the police. Pulsing bass lines pump tension and adrenaline... Then the rhythm rises swinging from frenzied funky rides to more calm, reflective moments. The following "Western metropolitano" (Metropolitan Western) and "Irruzione a Monteverde" (Irruption in Monteverde) are in the same vein and you can imagine bloody scenes and breathtaking chases through the streets of Rome or Milan...


The second part is dedicated to sexy comedy and the atmosphere are more relaxed. "Apertitivo" (Appetizer) is introduced by an excerpt from the film A tutte le auto della polizia (Calling All Police Cars), directed in 1975 by Mario Caiano. The atmosphere is suggestive and relaxed with a touch of mystery in the background. A short excerpt taken from the advertisement of an Italian beer leads to the light-hearted "Un goffo pretendente" (A clumsy pretender) featuring a lively beat and funny melodic lines played by Luca Cristofori on kazoo. "Rossella" (featuring the seducing vocals of the guest Rossella Finardi) closes the trilogy dedicated to eros and drives us to thanatos...

Strato's 2016

The last part of the album is dedicated to the dark, tense atmospheres of the Italian horror/thriller films made famous by directors such as Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci. "Chipsiomega" is a clear tribute to Dario Argento's film Profond Rosso (Deep Red) and to its soundtrack by Goblin. In fact, Chipsiomega was the temporary title of Profondo Rosso... This piece is an authentic ride through recurrent nightmares and hidden fears and features also some excerpts from the film Solamente Nero (The Bloodstained Shadow) directed by Antonio Bido in 1978. The disquieting "Delirio paranoide" (Paranoid delirium) and the melancholic closer "Titoli di coda" (Credits) complete the scene full of wild energy and delicate surprises.

On the whole, a very good album that is really worth listening to.

You can listen to the complete album HERE


More info: