Sunday, 3 January 2016

THE HOUSE IN THE WOOD

Quella Vecchia Locanda were one of the many prog bands formed in Rome in the early seventies. They released their eponymous debut album in 1972 for the Help label with a line-up featuring Giorgio Giorgi (vocals, flute), Massimo Roselli (piano, organ, mellotron, moog, vocals), Donald Lax (violin), Patrick Traina (drums, percussion), Romualdo Coletta (bass) and Raimondo Maria Cocco (electric and acoustic guitars, vocals). The musicians had a strong classical background and their music is a very interesting blend of classical influences with rock and folk. The beautiful art cover tries to describe the content of the album, a concept about difficult relationships and solitude...


The opener “Prologo” (Prologue) depicts in music and words a desperate, bleak landscape of solitude and alienation, an old, decrepit house in a dark wood where even worms refuse to live, where love for life gets hate in return. The very first notes are picked up from Johannes Brahms’ piano trio, op. n. 8, then the music develops in a shifting way before calming down... “These walls are heatless and dark / You can find here nothing but pain / Light, I’m looking for you / Life, I’m running after you...”.

Un villaggio, un’illusione” (A village, an illusion) describes a desperate, frenzied running through burnt grass aimlessly, led by the thirst for life... “There’s a village out there / It’s open to everyone but not to me / My destiny is dreadful / I need someone beside me...”. A sudden change in rhythm underlines the fear of refusal and the sensation that bullets shot from the village could penetrate your body and turn the green grass red like fire...


Realtà” (Reality) is a beautiful dreamy ballad where the dread illusion melts and hope rises... “I can breathe / I can see the light... Pain, hate and love do not make any sense to me now / I look at the sky that resembles me / A storm starts raging / Shouts, lightning, wind... They do not notice the people who are suffering and envy their honey... I’m dreaming of something that could give you a real peace... Who can understand this reality?”.

Immagini sfocate” (Unfocused images) is a short, hypnotic track where an aggressive, psychedelic guitar riff emerges from experimental sounds... “I’m dreaming, I think so / All is dark around me / Only mysterious forces can explain...”. The psychedelic dream fades on the next track, the complex “Il cieco” (The blind man) where the sounds of life bring us back to reality and the lyrics describe meeting a blind man who needs someone beside him and asks for help...


Dialogo” (Dialogue) is a beautiful, complex track where classical influences blend perfectly with rock and a touch of jazz in the musical dialogue between the scared hermit banned from society and the blind man. New positive feelings come to life...

Verso la locanda” (Towards the inn) is another excellent track, bittersweet and dreamy, where the violin leads the way to the house of joy... “A thousand shadows are running in my direction / Come, my friend / The way is long but I will lead you / That’s the inn...”.

The final track “Sogno, risveglio e...” (Dream, awake and...) opens with a delicate piano pattern, then violin and flute come in... “The roof crumbles / The walls fall down / In theatre of the world...”. Here the melancholic, dreamy mood and a reprise of the initial theme could suggest that what is crumbling is the dreadful house of solitude in the dark wood...


You can read an interview with some members of the band HERE

 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

WOODS AND BISCUITS

The Buttered Bacon Biscuits were a band from Faenza, a town located in an area called Romagna, that had been active from 2008 to 2013 with a style rooted in the seventies and consisting in a mix of psychedelia, hard rock and a pinch of progressive. They had a good live activity and in 2010 released a debut album entitled From The Solitary Woods, with a line up featuring Riccardo Dal Pane (vocals, guitars), Alex Celli (guitar), Alessandro Aroni (bass), Stefano Olivi (keyboards) and Antonio Perugini (drums - later replaced by Andrea Palli). The album was distributed by the independent label Black Widow Records and got some good reviews but the band did not last enough for a follow up.

Buttered Bacon Biscuits

After the band split up, in 2014 from their ashes came to life a new band called Witchwood, a quintet featuring three former members of the Buttered Bacon Biscuits, Riccardo Dal Pane (vocals, guitars, mandolin, percussion), Stefano Olivi (Hammond, piano, synth, Moog) and Andrea Palli (drums, percussion) along with Samuele Tesori (flute, harmonica) and Luca Celotti (bass). In 2015 this new band, with the help of some guests, released an interesting debut album on the independent label Jolly Roger Records, Litanies From The Woods, where they managed to mix hard rock, progressive, psychedelia and southern rock in a personal way adding fresh ideas to vintage sounds and obscure atmospheres borrowed from the past. Their love for bands such as Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple, Hawkwind or Lynyrd Skynyrd is apparent but the songwriting is good and the overall sound is full of energy and passion. The result is a nice example of what now is called classic rock and in my opinion it is really worth listening to...


The opener "Prelude" is just a short electric guitar intro that leads to the caustic "Liar", a heartfelt complaint against a world where appearances are more important than real values and democracy is nothing but an illusion conjured up by cynical politicians, a world where the lies of the media hide the dirtiest sins and where dreams fill the graves...

On the following "A Place For The Sun" the music and lyrics evoke the cathartic power of music and invite you to live day by day to tackle the adversities of life, always looking for the hidden place in your soul where the sun always shines...


"Rainbow Highway" deals with the wish of freedom and adventure of a boy who grew up in a small town, surrounded by boredom and old traditions. The music and lyrics here evoke the dream of a life without rules, a wish of absolute freedom, a fantastic ride on the shoulders of a rainbow demon to feel the wind blowing free and wild all around... Hey boy, pick up your heart and run! Before you lose your soul...

The hypnotic, psychedelic "The Golden King" conjures up the image of a caravan coming from a distant planet, sailing through endless skies... Listen to the litanies for the mysterious Golden King and let him take you away for a ride to his palace to celebrate a strange Sabbath!

Witchwood on stage 2015

The following "Shade Of Grey" is a dark, haunting track evoking Gothic atmospheres and a disquieting creature from an hidden world moving through the woods. You can listen to the songs soaring from the woods as you get lost in a starry night...

Next comes the romantic ballad "The World Behind Your Eyes" that is dedicated to Laura, the lovely muse of lyricist and composer Riccardo Dal Pane. It leads to the long, complex instrumental "Farewell To The Ocean Boulevard" featuring many changes in rhythm and atmosphere, a real epic where the band showcase all their musicianship and creativity swinging from calm, relaxed acoustic passages to fiery electric rides and vice versa. A wonderful track!


"Song Of Freedom" is a celebration of the life on the road, the song of a travelling man in love with his sweet freedom. This nice mix of country rock, blues, hard rock and psychedelic dreams à la easy rider leads to the long closer "Handful Of Stars", a beautiful suite divided into three parts that reminds me of the atmospheres of the Dream Cycle stories by H.P. Lovecraft and deals with haunting and dangerous dreams. On the first part, "The Gates Of Slumber" the music and lyrics conjure up the image of a dreamer lost in his room with floating planets all around while stars fill his mind and heart... He falls in a timeless abyss of dark dreams that the evocative music of next two instrumental parts, "Nox Erat..." (It was night) and "Epilogue: Litanies For A Starless Night", let your imagination free to build up...

On the whole, a very nice album! If you like bands such as Wicked Minds, I'm sure you will not be disappointed...

More info:



Thursday, 17 December 2015

THE COMET

Ison is the second full length album by Démodé, a very interesting "pocket size orchestra", as they love to define themselves, from Udine. It was self released in 2015, four years after the previous Le parole al vento, with a renewed line up featuring Francesco Zanon (violin), Andrea Zampieri (clarinet), Claudio Colaone (sax), Luca Laruina (piano), Carin Marzaro (bass) and Alberto Zenarolla (drums). In my opinion these four years of gigs and hard work in the studio have resulted in a very mature work where the band showcase all their great talent and musicianship mixing jazz and chamber music, avant-garde and tango, East-European folk and progressive, melodies and dissonances... The result is an excellent instrumental album that is really worth listening to from start to finish!

art cover

The opener "La fuga" (The escape) could evoke a joyful ride in the country after a hard week spent on the workplace. It starts with a nervous passage led by sax, drums, pulsing bass lines and piano, then the music begins to swing towards positive feelings and more relaxed atmospheres until the finale, when some delicate sax lines seem almost wishing you good-night.

"Ison", is darker and full of mystery. The title of this piece refers to the comet ISON, also known as C/2012 S1, a sungrazing comet discovered on 21 September 2012. In 2013 Ison broke apart when it passed close to the sun because of heat and tidal forces... According to the official website, between creation and destruction comets are symbols of metamorphosis and, as the passage of Ison coincided with a moment of deep renewal for the band, they chose to name after it not only this piece but the whole album.


Démodé 2014

"Arturo" is a short track that starts slowly and then evolves in a lively dance with klezmer influences that make me think of Louis de Funès playing the role of Rabbi Jacob in an old French comedy film... The following "Memento" is reflective, jazzy and cinematic. I don't know if this piece was inspired by the film of the same name directed by Christopher Nolan in 2000, but in my opinion it could be a really good score for a neo-noir psychological thriller with such a kind of plot...

The dreamy "Nuances" conjures up ethereal atmospheres and black and white memories. It leads to the magical beauty of "Il sentiero incantato" (The enchanted path) that seems to take you on a mystical trip in the Alps. The evocative music will lead you on a beautiful path, through breathtaking panoramas and ancient woods where rocks, trees and roots conjure up legends and old myths...


The title of the following "Il papiro di Ani" (The Papyrus of Ani) refers to a papyrus manuscript with cursive hieroglyphs and colour illustrations created during the 19th dynasty of the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt and that now lies in the British Museum. Egyptians compiled an individualized book for certain people upon their death, called the Book of Going Forth by Day, more commonly known as the Book of the Dead, typically containing declarations and spells to help the deceased in their afterlife, and this manuscript was compiled for the Theban scribe Ani... In my opinion, here the beautiful music could be a perfect score for a film based upon a novel by Wilbur Smith such as The Seventh Scroll or River God.

Démodé on stage 2015

"Split Inside" is a calm, introspective track featuring classical patterns veined of exoticism and romantic dreams. Every now and again it reminds me slightly of Le Orme's album Florian... Next comes the suggestive "Charlotte" with its sensual Latin flavour and its echoes of tango.

According to the band, the ever changing "Luna indiana" (Indian Moon) was conceived like a crazy radio station that changes continuously tune with irony and absolute nonchalance. It precedes the lively closer "Zucchero sotto sale" (Sugar under salt) wthat blands in a funny way classical passages, jazz and Latin rhythms driving you in a frenzied final dance...

On the whole, I think that this is a really good, mature work. Anyway, have a try and judge by yourselves: you can listen to the complete album HERE


More info: