Wednesday, 20 November 2019

LABYRINTHS AND MIRRORS

Hailing from the province of Treviso, Il Labirinto di Alice took shape in 2017 between the towns of Asolo and Montebelluna with a line up featuring Christian "Gino" Agostinetto (vocals), Daniele Forner (guitar), Daniele "Lele" Petrin (guitar), Matteo "Ford" Favero (keyboards, synth), Andrea "Simba" Basso (bass) and Enrico "Maestro" Pasetti (drums). Soon after the birth of the band they started performing live on the local scene honing their skills and had the chance to share the stage with other emerging prog bands such as Basta! or Endless Season. In 2018 the band self-released an interesting debut album entitled (Ri)Passi featuring four long, elaborate pieces where they showcase good musicianship and creativity blending vintage sounds and fresh ideas. Although every now and again their music could recall Le Orme or other historic bands from the seventies, the operatic, theatrical vocals and some heavier moments remind me of newer bands such as Absenthia, Le Porte Non Aperte or Panda Fight Club...


The opener “Il vicolo losco” (The sinister alley) if full of classical inspired passages and echoes from the seventies. The music and lyrics conjure up the image of a mysterious, silent woman. Blinded and betrayed, she speaks in an ancient language that nowadays nobody can understand, she’s lost in time, old fashioned and haunted by scoundrels who insult, plagiarize and hurt her. She feels crumbling down, falling to pieces carried away by the wind while nobody seems to care for her. Who is that woman? Well, she’s the Music Herself, she’s dying but still breathing and could still be saved and revitalized by the passion of some brave, daring people who would get rid of the stereotypes and of the market laws...


The following “Il mercante del suono” (The sound merchant) is about the role of the musician and begins by heavy electric guitar riffs and organ waves backed by a nervous rhythm section. Then a calmer part follows where the music and lyrics describe a rising sound that slowly finds harmonies and chords, metamorphosed by emotions and feelings… A new burst of energy sweeps off the dreamy atmosphere. The sound can’t be stopped just by shutting off a mouth, you can’t catch it with your fingers, you can’t shoot it down… The mood become tense as the rising sound now veers back to the instruments that gave it birth and personality because it does not forget the skins and woods where it comes from thanks to hits of the merchant… Who is the merchant of sound? A magician or just a skilful musician?

Il Labirinto di Alice 2017

“Malessere cronico di una mente impotente” (Chronic illness of a powerless mind) is a sarcastic track telling about an apathetic life regulated through a glass from where you can drink drops of fake smiles, disorder and endless lies. Here nothing is sure but pain. So, you get addicted to the glass and fall down to relax in the enchanted garden of memories… Listen to the silence and remember who you are to get free of your chains!

Then comes “Lo specchio di Ilda” (Ilda’s mirror), a beautiful track dealing with virtual reality and manipulation, loss of identity, madness and rage that ends the album with an emotional crescendo.

Despite the title, – “(Ri)Passi” refers to the words rehearsal and steps and could evoke the idea of a poor demo – in my opinion this is an excellent debut work for a very promising band!

You can listen to the complete album HERE

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Monday, 18 November 2019

ACROSS THE CIRCLE OF LIFE

A Lifelong Journey is the brainchild of Mauro Mugiati (vocals, keyboards, bass, acoustic guitars) and Brian Belloni (electric and acoustic guitars, lap steel guitar, drums), two talented musicians from Pavia both members of Beggar’s Farm, one of the best known Italian Jethro Tull’s tribute bands. In 2019 the two young multi-instrumentalists felt the need to express their own skills as composers and song-writers and self-released an interesting eponymous debut album where they blended vintage and modern sounds, inspired by historic bands from the seventies such as Genesis, Yes or Procol Harum but also by the likes of Spock’s Beard or Steven Wilson. In my opinion, the result of their efforts is very good!


The album was conceived as a long suite in thirteen parts telling about a metaphorical journey across the circle of life, a kind of metaphorical quest for freedom and self-realisation. It begins by a short, dreamy instrumental section entitled “Overture” leading to the pulsing “Streets Of Empathy” that introduces the subject matter. Time has come to find your way and now you are walking on your own on the streets of the world following your dreams and feeling empathy for travellers, voyagers, beggar men and everybody else who dares to defy conformism although many people can’t understand it… 

The following section is the delicate “The Shadow” that features a nice strummed acoustic guitar pattern in the background and echoes of Genesis and Procol Harum. You’re still not far from home and already the colours you can see all around you make you perceive different sounds and feelings. The music and lyrics here evoke the fear of breaking bounds, the ghosts from the past, the need to carry on and the pressure of choices to make to find a way to escape from a prison located inside your head...


Then comes a nervous section entitled “Illusion” that describes the feeling of loosing touch with reality driving you where you can hide from other people. You experience the illusion of freedom as you’re spinning fast, upside down, falling deep into your self-consciousness… On the following section, “Reality”, the illusion melts but you’re still building a prison in your head, brick after brick, despite the desire to break free standing proudly on your feet. The land of your dreams is very difficult to reach indeed! “The Shadow (Reprise)” is a dreamy finale for the first half of the album with a backing strummed acoustic guitar and a soaring electric guitar solo. Well, you think you’ve caught the change, you made it and now you feel free...


The second part of the suite (or side B if you prefer) begins by a dark piano solo pattern that leads to the melancholic thoughts and sensations of “Reflections From The Window” where pain is waiting for you in black circles surrounding your head. Deceiving pictures and tricky words run free, breaking the silence. Out of the window the rain is falling down on a tree, time passes slowly and you’re loosing your balance as your dreams seem to turn into nightmares… Threatening organ waves take you to the next section entitled “Disillusion”. Take a look at yourself, where are you’re heading now? Time is running out and you can’t let it break you, you’re tempted to give up and turn back but don’t let your regrets change your mind, don’t surrender to the tide! Disillusion was the price to pay for your dreams and now there’s no time to waste, you know you can still be master of your fate...

A Lifelong Journey 2019

Then comes “Fate” with a martial pace and filtered vocals. Someone is asking for help, restless and lonely just like you were. The next section, “Open Up”, brings a calm, dreamy atmosphere and features strummed acoustic guitar and piano. All alone, in your own dimension you’ve been fighting the world to find your soul. In the fight you thought to have found your own way but you lost stability and balance and now you feel confused. You can’t just drift away, you have to open up and don’t let your ego mislead you. But time is running out and you realize that you’ll never find your peace of mind. You have to say goodbye, you’re going to die tonight and there’s nothing left to try...


The section entitled “Where We Belong” expresses in music and words regrets and nostalgia. You spotted happiness in a glimpse of light, there was another way to break the chain, there were other ways to live a better life and to deserve a better fate. Now you’re giving up, you can fight no more, tonight you are walking through an unknown door… You’re still so far from home and the colours around you have no light nor sound. The sky is falling, don’t look back! It’s the end of your lifelong journey and you’re nothing but the shadow of the man you were. In the darkness you’re going back where we all belong… Then the frenzied instrumental section enitled “Memories” leads to the finale, “Streets Of Empathy (Reprise)”. It’s the end of the road, the end of all the pain and you’re moving on, along the streets of empathy. The circle closes...

On the whole, a very good album that deserves a try! To perform it live Mauro Mugiati and Brian Belloni have recruited two additional members, Sergio Ponti (drums – from Beggar’s Farm too) and Leonardo Barbierato (bass). So, if you have the chance, don’t miss one of their concerts.

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Saturday, 2 November 2019

THE SECOND ECLIPSE

La Seconda Eclisse began life in Rome in 2004 on the initiative of Andrea Ledda (bass), Daniele Piaggesi (guitar, vocals) and Francesco Latini (drums). After a good live activity on the local scene, in 2006 the band self-released a still immature debut album entitled Alea where you can hear a mix of psychedelic influences and indie rock. In 2010 their musical palette was enriched by a new member, Paolo (sax, guitar, synth,) and in 2013 they started to work on new compositions. After long periods spent in the studio alternated with some pauses due to personal problems, in 2018 the new album saw the light. It is entitled Nuvolauomo and is an interesting conceptual work telling about a personal crises. The album was self-released and in my opinion marks a step forward for the band with its good blend of psychedelia, post rock, alternative influences and poetry.



The instrumental opener “Quanto tutto dorme” (When everything sleeps) starts with the sounds of a storm in the background and a nocturnal atmosphere... Then it’s the turn of “Un’idea” (An idea) that evokes mental tricks and virtual realities where mirrors reflect nothing but habits and shadows. The sense of the real world begins to fade, getting blurred by fantasies and doubts… There’s nothing around you now but black and white figures and confused ideas!


La Seconda Eclisse on stage 2018

The following “Ombre” (Shadows) every now and again reminds me of Goblin and features a slow pace and a dark mood. Music and words tell of shadows hiding behind silences and nightmares gathering on the edge of normality… Then the melancholic “Neve” (Snow) describes the memories of a difficult relationships that feels like a punch in the teeth. As the snow falls behind the window you can hear only careless voices and you look at the busy people running in the street while in your room grows a strong sense of alienation and solitude...



“Delirio” (Delirium) paints the images of screaming people under a threatening moon while a cutting madness is taking over... You have to face delirium and to play with your anguish and fear! Next comes the disquieting “Il sogno della mantide” (The mantis dream) where strong images and bloody thoughts are used to describe a sweetheart becoming a prying mantis, ready to devour her lover. After the instrumental central section the dream of the mantis and of the man who is waiting for her begins to fade out...



“Gli alberi” (The trees) is ethereal and dreamy. The act of looking at the trees out of the window stirs the feelings of a melancholic awakening from a nightmare. Now a new life and a new morning that you can’t still understand is looming on your horizon as the wind lightly moves the curtains on your bed... “L’apparenza” (The look) features a good sax solo and a nervous central section with the rhythm section in the forefront and soaring synth waves. It’s a track about the contrast between the need to put on a mask to hide your emotions and faults and the need to express in some way the same emotions and your own personality. 



On the following “Magnolia” you can hear some electric guitar riffs expressing the energy you need to face reality and walk your own way without heading false illusions, avoiding conformism and mediocrity. The cathartic title-track “Nuvolauomo” (Cloud man) ends the album with its mysterious atmosphere and oriental flavours. The music and lyrics here evoke a strange idea of changing, an inner revolution and a kind of spiritual rebirth... Well, a good conclusion for a very interesting album!

You can listen to the complete album HERE

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