Saturday, 15 November 2014

EGO TRICKS

Nuova Divisione began life in 2009 in Avezzano, a town in the province of L'Aquila, in an area called Marsica. After a still immature work self-released in 2012, Once Upon a Time, in 2014 they self-released an ambitious and more refined sophomore album titled The Last Man In Europe, with a line up featuring Daniele Mari (drums, percussion), Alessandro Rivolta (bass, synthesizers, piano, vocals), Simone Salucci (piano, organ, synthesizers, Mellotron, vocals) and Francesco Mezzoprete (guitars). Despite the Italian name, the main influences of the band come from across the Channel and range from The Beatles to Pink Floyd and Genesis. The result is an interesting mix of psychedelia and progressive rock with a vast array of vintage sounds and a strong leaning to melody. The Last Man In Europe's music and lyrics (in English) tell of a man overwhelmed by his ego while the artwork and a surreal short story (in Italian) that you can find in the booklet try to help you to understand better the subject matter: in fact, here images and words are like the layers of a bad dream, just hanging memories that you can hardly define in the morning...

art cover

The opener "Here's The Light" starts softly with a spacey, mysterious atmosphere, then the rhythm rises and the story begins, the story of a man who dared to challenge gods, fate and fears. There's a beggar at your door and he looks like you... The following "Have You Ever Wondered Why?" recalls Genesis and raises some questions that could lead to an existential crisis, but beware! The road id dangerous and you could run like hell into a wall just waiting for the final cut... "Mind Your Steps" is a short instrumental track that could recall EL&P with a pinch of Jethro Tull, the tension is high but after a while the rhythm calms down...


"The Contract" is a nice, light track that recalls The Beatles and describes the deal with a mysterious character who can give you anything you want: all you have to do is signing the contract with a blood drop. Next comes "I Don't Care" that takes you to the land of consumerism and egoism. You can go everywhere, so why not having breakfast in America, for instance? No need of explanations, time is worthless, there's no need to care about other people, now your ego is the only religion... Then, on the melodic "If You Want it" you can hear here, there and everywhere the singing sirens of desire, the tempting sound of a pied piper and you let it be...


"A Creature Of Reality (a.k.a. The Egosystem)" begins by a marching beat and drum rolls. You're losing control, you get lost in a nightmare but there's no time for pain, the spirits all around you are cold and you can see a shiny glow... Then comes the psychedelic "Remember The Future" full of dark visions and obscure omens and the mellow, yellow "Stop Your Mind" where thoughts keep on swirling all around and your damned ego begins to play bad tricks tearing you down. On "Here's The Night" the mood is even darker while the nightmare gets worse and worse. You gaze regretfully at the bloody contract while the walls around you turn into mirrors reflecting your immeasurable ego...


The long, complex suite "The Last Man In Europe" concludes the album. It's divided into three parts (Abomination Of Desolation - It Was A Fake Moustache - A Storm In A Teacup) and depicts a surreal landscape. Your ego was so big that there was no room for anyone else, now you're alone! You're the only inhabitant of a brand new world, and you're feeling terribly sad and desperate... Is this really what you call life?

On the whole a good album, even if it doesn't shine for originality. All the members of the band are still young but they're all skilled musicians and I'm sure that they will do better in the future. Anyway, have a try and judge by yourselves...

You can listen to the complete album in streaming HERE

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Friday, 14 November 2014

THE WORLD IN A BUBBLE

La Forza Elettro Motrice (in short F.E.M.) came to life in Meda in 2007 from the ashes of a band called QK, on the initiative of Alberto Citterio and Paolo Colombo. After some live experiences on the local scene and a first EP in 2012, in 2014 they finally released their first full length album on the independent label Altrock/Fading Records with a renewed line up featuring Alberto Citterio (keyboards), Paolo Colombo (guitars), Marco Buzzi (bass), Emanuele Borsati (drums) and Massimo Sabbatini (vocals). It's titled "Sulla bolla di sapone" (On the soap bubble) and it's a conceptual work loosely based on a short story by German writer Kurd Lasswitz, Auf der Seifenblase. Although this work is divided into individual tracks, it does function as a whole and the music flows away without interruptions as in a long suite. As you can guess, the album stems from many years of hard work and is the result of the distillation of a myriad of influences but the band managed to throw enough of their own originality into the mix to keep their compositions and arrangements forward looking and interesting from start to end. Sometimes the vocalist seems to struggle to interpret all the different characters of the story showcasing a good theatrical approach but this does not spoil the pleasure of the listening. The artwork by Dario D'Alessandro is beautiful and in some way describes the content of the album portrying a dreamy world in a soap bubble...


The brilliant opener "Il giardino delle consuetudini" (The custom's garden) sets the atmosphere and conjures up the image of a beautiful garden where we meet two men and a child. It's pleasant to sit quietly in this garden for a while and let things slide, you can relax and sit down. The child is playing with soap bubbles and suddenly asks a question... “Uncle Wendel, uncle Wendel! Just look at the soap bubbles, the wonderful colours! But where do the colours come from?”. In a while certainties and untouchable truths start to crumble for a man that is not used to think of the sense of an endless reality. It's the starting point for an incredible journey...


The following "Microgen" is divided into two parts. The first is an instrumental one that begins by a dazzling sound of synthesizers and draws you in a mysterious atmosphere. Then, on the second part, the music and lyrics invite you to try, try hard to think of the world in a different way. One of the two men in the garden, uncle Wendel, is a very peculiar genius, half alchemist and half scientist, who has discovered a tool that can make everything very small and that's called microgen... Each of the conscious capabilities would be altered so that all qualitative perceptions remained the same, but all quantitative relationships are reduced in scale. He maintained that he could shrink any individual he chose - along with their view of world - to one millionth, even one billionth part of normal size... "Do you want to discover Microgen? / Do you want to try Microgen? / Can you understand microgen? / Here you are! It's microgen's time...".

The dreamy "Il mondo bianco opaco" (The white, opaque world) is a beautiful instrumental interlude based on a piano pattern that takes us on a soap bubble. Then, on the following "Consapevolezza" (Consciousness) the rhythm rises while we're approaching a strange new world. Slowly we land on it, we're surrounded by a landscape of glycerine, the earth looks like a frozen sea, the white sky is like curtain. In the fog we can see some strange shapes coming forward...


"Incontro con i saponiani" (Meeting with the Saponiens) is an aggressive instrumental track that describes the meeting with the inhabitants of the soap bubble, the Saponiens, and leads to the following "Nella città" (In the town). Here the music and lyrics describe a surreal world where different realities clash into each other. The quiet garden is far behind: now we're not just living in a dream but we're entering in a kind of theatre of dreams, we're entering in an unknown, crowded place and every blink is a mosaic of the picture of the mysterious town... Then the Saponiens noticed our presence and gathered round us with many questions, displaying their obvious desire for knowledge. Understanding between us was made the more difficult because their limbs, which possessed a certain similarity to the feelers of polyps, moved in such peculiar ways that even gestures were hard to make out...


The heavier, dark instrumental "Il signore dei pensanti" (The Lord of the Thinkers) takes us on a trip to the capital city where the head of state of the Saponiens, who bears the title Lord of the Thinkers, resides. It's a good chance to learn more about this strange civilization. In fact, the Saponiens call themselves The Thinkers for the study of science is held in the highest regard and the whole nation takes a keen interest in the scientific disputes of their learned men. Later we have the chance to attend a trial against a local scientist called Glagli: the music and lyrics of the following "Processo alla verità" (The truth on trial) describe the trial. In some way it recalls the trial of Giordano Bruno or GalileoGalilei where conservative, obscurantist thesis prevail on rationality. Beware! During the trial one of the protagonists speaks up and commits the error to get involved in the argument backing Glagli's innovative theories and tells the assembly the story of their journey to the soap bubble... “Outrage! Blasphemy! Madness!” echoed all around, and inkwells flew at my head. “He’s mad! The world a soap bubble? His son made it? He pretends to be the father of the creator of the world! Boil him! Boil him!”. Well, it's time to get back I fear... "Here we are! / It's time of the micrgen!".


"Riflessioni" (Reflections) is a beautiful instrumental acoustic piece full of classical influences and delicate nuances that leads to "Il peso della conoscenza" (The weight of knowledge) where the music and lyrics invite you to reflect about your experience and to look at the world with an open mind and a new awareness. Now subtle sounds drive your thoughts, you can hear the voice of conscience telling words that seem void but bear the weight of knowledge. Knowledge can mean responsibility and revolution, wisdom can be misunderstood and confused with madness, we can find threatening what we can't understand... It can’t be understood, I can’t explain it to you; it would be no use. People remain people whether large or small. They never look beyond themselves. Why should I let it cause trouble?


During the ethereal, spacey instrumental "Un viaggio lungo un istante" (A journey that lasts a moment) you're still lost in your thoughts, then another beautiful instrumental track, "Reviviscenza" (Revivescence), brings new life and strength. The music and lyrics of the following "Ritorno al giardino" (Return to the garden) take you back to reality. After your dangerous journey you know that an absolute truth does not exist and that this is the true principle of freedom. "E il mondo scoppierà" (And the world will burst) concludes the album with a nice drumming and a new energy, now you can feel a new consciousness and you can turn your eyes to your land as a new man... "How many transparent bubbles around us? / Can you see them?...". Uncle Wendel laughed, the bubble burst - and my little son blew another...

You can read the short story that inspired the album translated into English by Noel Middleton HERE

Forza Elettro Motrice: Sulla bolla di sapone (2014). Other opinions:
Michael "Aussie-Byrd-Brother: F.E.M are offering classic Italian prog influences successfully mixed with modern sensibilities, all performed with a youthful vigour and spirited energy. Respectful of the past without simply slavishly remaking it, fans of the older vintage acts should give this band a listen to see how the proud tradition of the past masters is in good hands and carrying on in a grand and promising fashion... (read the complete review HERE)

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Saturday, 1 November 2014



BALLETTO DI BRONZO
 +
SOPHYA BACCINI'S ARADIA
+
FABRIZIO SANTORO 

Rome

Dicember 19, 2014


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