Wednesday, 29 July 2015

AUTUMNAL MELODIES

Plenilunio come from Acqui Terme, a small town in the province of Alessandria and in 2012 released an interesting debut album with a line up featuring Roberto Maggiotto (vocals), Valter Camparo (keyboards), Fabrizio Genta (guitars), Fabio Zorgno (drums) and Roberto Camparo (bass). It was entitled Respiri lunghi 1000 miglia and was released on the digital label Battitorumore/Believe Digital (so far, unfortunately, there is no physical copy available I'm aware of). Although the love of the musicians involved in this project for bands such as Premiata Forneria Marconi or Locanda delle Fate is apparent, their main influences seem to come from classic rock and Italian canzone d'autore with a strong leaning for melody. The songwriting is not particularly challenging, there are no long suites or extended solos but the final result is pleasant and never banal. According to the band, their pieces should be considered as small pictures on the walls of the feelings with gleaming frames to enhance their content, every single note is meant as a chisel for the lyrics that capture the meaning of emotions lost in winter mists and troubled hearts lightened by a full moon on a sleeping plain...


The opener "Giugno '78" (June '78) takes you back in time on a journey on the wings of nostalgia. Sitting in an armchair with a cat at your feet, watching at an old photo-book with a smell of white glue, you listen to an old vinyl album... The first notes take off like bats drawing mysterious trajectories in your room and conjure up the images of a trip to Zurich in the seventies, a solid friendship, hopes and dreams. Now your memories are like lightnings escaping from the clouds of Time...

The title track "Respiri lunghi 1000 miglia" (1000 miles long breaths) tells of old split ups and painful separations, ships sailing across infinite, metaphorical oceans, people and lovers that you can't forget, moonless nights without love, timeless vigils and unexpected come backs after years of absence... The following "Il blu" (Blue) depicts in music and words a magical dawn and all you have to do is close your eyes and imagine a dreamy landscape with woods and hills all around: you would like to pick up a piece of blue sky and put it in a canister saving it for the grey days...


Next comes the melodic "Pioggia" (Rain) that describes an autumnal day with rain drops falling on the windows like tears from the sky and dancing leaves in the air swept by the wind. You can see the bolts on the horizon tearing apart the sky like knives while romantic memories are still lingering in your head... "Il finestrino" (The window) takes you for a while on the dark side of the moon and depicts a train running fast across hills and plains. The thoughts of a commuter on his way back home unfolds while the panorama changes outside the window...

"Sogno" (Dream) is lighter and depicts a man who is living a kind of musical fairy tale, a daydreamer strolling around the city and feeling like a child in an amusement park. It leads to the suggestive "Inconfessabile" (Unconfessable) that tells about the meeting of two lovers in the city, on a windy winter day lightened by desire and passion. Then it's the turn of the calm, reflective "Le paure" (Fears) that evokes old fears, haunting memories and icy dreams melting in an autumnal day, swept away by the inner light of a new awareness.


"Arrivi tu" (You come) recalls Lucio Battisti and is light and melodic. On an autumnal day the image of a charming, smiling woman comes out of the blue and makes your heart beat fast... Next comes the bitter-sweet "Lettera al paradiso" (Letter to Paradise), about the relationship between a father and his son. "Sui gradini" (On the steps) is a romantic piece that tells of emotional alchemies that set your eyes on fire while your reason get lost on the rocks of your senses. It leads to closer "Pleni", a short instrumental with an ethereal, baroque atmosphere...

On the whole, this is a nice album with strong melodies and some good ideas but I'm sure that this band can do better. At the moment they are recording a new album with a renewed line up and I'm looking forward to listen to it...

You can listen to the complete album in streaming on deezer or spotify. Have a try!

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Sunday, 26 July 2015

THE DARK TOWER

Hailing from Colle Val d'Elsa, a small town in the province of Siena, Profusion began life as a trio in 2001 under the name Mardi Gras Experience, influenced by the American prog scene of the nineties and by bands such as Planet X and Spock's Beard. In 2002 they changed their name into the current one combining the words "Progressive" and "Fusion" and four years later they self-released an interesting debut album entitled One Piece Puzzle. After a good live activity on the local scene and some personnel changes, in 2012 Profusion released their second full length work, RewoToweR, on the independent label ProgRock Records with a renewed line up featuring along with founding members Vladimer Lado Sichinava (drums) and Gionatan Caradonna (keyboards) also Luca Cambi (bass), Thomas Laguzzi (guitars) and Luca Latini (vocals) plus some guests such as Simon Hosford (guitar), Titta Nesti (vocals), Andrea Beninati (cello, percussion) and Andrea Libero Cito (violin). The overall sound on this album is rich and full of energy, the songwriting is good and mixes different influences ranging from metal to world music. According to the band, their music is a spiral of genres, tones and rhythms, melted and tangled together that tries to convey an original message dealing with musical flexibility and research while the album is conceived as a path that guides the listener into a tower and where each song reveals a new plan, a new step that allows you to reach the top. An ambitious project indeed, anyway there's no real storyline and the meaning of this conceptual work remains a bit foggy and open to various interpretations and sensibilities...


The nervous opener "Ghost House" conjures up in music and lyrics a nightmarish mansion on a hill overlooking an American town. It was built long time ago by a mysterious man coming out of the blue who, since then, has always been locked in, like a ghost. Rumours, imagination, fantasy, fear, rage... Eventually the town's folk try to break in the house to see what's hidden in its dark rooms but what they find there is nothing but a surreal vision of their own lives under the light of the moon. Here the atmosphere reminds me of some stories by H.P. Lovecraft or Stephen King such a The Dreams In The Witch House or Salem's Lot...

Next comes "The Taste Of Colours" that is divided into two parts and tells of the personal crisis of man who has lost his identity. It starts softly, with piano a vocals. The protagonist of this piece seems condemned to live all his life in black and white but when he's alone he's still able to see the colours that shine inside his soul and he can break through the dull sense of apathy that's hanging all over him, diving in the inner light his of self consciousness to paint a secret place where to live in peace and harmony...

Profusion on stage 2013

On the following "Treasure Island" the borders between dream and reality are blurred while the lyrics quote Robert Louis Stevenson and evoke a ghostly sea song and fifteen drunken men dancing on a dead man's chest with a bottle of rum. A man is sailing across an unknown ocean of hopes and doubts, he can't find the right course and he feels like a damned fool at the mercy of the waves, deeply falling into nonsense... Then comes "So Close But Alone", a piece that starts just by piano and vocals before veering to exotic islands and spiced atmospheres built upon Latin rhythms and flamenco sketches while the lyrics evoke the painful memories of a betrayed love...

The short instrumental "Tkeshi (ტყეში)" features a strong ethnic flavour. The title is a Georgian word that means "Into The Woods" and introduces the following "Chuta Chani", a wonderful traditional Caucasian lullaby from Georgia re-elaborated and transformed into something unusual and new with sudden bursts of energy and even tarantella passages. After all, the drummer Vladimer Lado Sichinava was born in Tbilisi and he's proud of his roots: just take the time to compare Profusion's version with the one by Lela Tsurtsumia...



"The Tower" is a complex track divided into two parts that tells about a man obsessed by the dream of building a tower to reach the sky. Every night his sleep is haunted by sounds of iron work and images of incomplete shapes and incomplete walls. Eventually that tower will be buried and from the top of its ruins he will start to fly... A nice track that in some way reminds me of some atmospheres from Stephen King's Dark Tower saga

"Turned To Gold" is a romantic, melodic ballad that tells in music and words of the cathartic effects of a new relationship with someone that seems to understand you and complete your soul... It leads to the closer "Dedalus", a long, complex track about the mysterious architect who planned to build the metaphorical, labyrinthine tower that marks this strange concept album: a living building where he's imprisoned for the eternity, a building that irepreents in the meantime the wonderful fruit his creative work and his damnation. In the end a reprise of the first track closes the circle inviting you to listen to the album again, reflecting about time and dreams, hopes and old fears...

You can listen to the complete album HERE

Profusion: RewoToweR (2012). Other opinions:
Andy Webb: While the guys could work on a bit of a more signature sound, the album is incredibly well produced, put together, composed, played, and just about everything that can be done "well" on an album. The huge variety of styles put into the album added a nice dynamic, and the guys successfully pulled every style off, which, in many cases with other bands who try the same thing, doesn't go very well... (read the complete review HERE)

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Thursday, 2 July 2015

FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT

Hailing from the province of Venice, Sezione Frenante began life in the early seventies under the name Le Nuove Dimensioni, later changed into the current name. During the seventies they hadn't the chance to record an album and split up in 1978, when the interest for progressive rock was fading. In 2006 the band reformed on the initiative of three founder members and in 2014 Sezione Frenante finally released a debut album on the independent label Ma.Ra.Cash Records with a line up featuring Alessandro Casagrande (drums, percussion), Sandro Bellemo (bass), Doriano Mestriner (gutars, vocals), Mirco De Marchi (keyboards, vocals) and Francesco Nardo (lead vocals) plus the guest Antonio Zullo (acoustic guitar). This long awaited album is entitled Metafora di un viaggio - Arditi voli di cervelli attenti and is a conceptual work, vaguely inspired by Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, that describes in music and words a cathartic journey from darkness to light, from despair to hope... The overall sound draws on vintage atmospheres and could recall bands such as Le Orme, Metamorfosi, Procession or Alphataurus but the musicians managed to put into the mix all their passion, their experience and their personality with excellent results and the album is really worth listening to.


The opener "La quiete in un attimo" (Peace in a while) starts by pulsing bass lines and dreamy passages that seem to mark the transition into an hypnotic state of unconsciousness. The music and lyrics evoke a moment of quiet where you can think and get lost into your dreams. Now you're almost floating on the current of your thoughts, between life and death... The dark organ surge of the following "La meta non trovata" (The unfounded destination) announces a dangerous journey through a realm of shadows where you're surrounded by shapeless things and faded visions. Eventually, your aimless wandering takes you in front of a high white door that blocks your way... Then a surreal calm comes down and "La meta non trovata (curiosità di essere)" (The unfounded destination - Curiosity of being) describes curiosity and fear seizing your throat. Your brain doesn't work, you can't think anymore...

Next comes "Attesa" (Waiting), a short instrumental that describes the time you pass in doubt, waiting in front of the white door while the following "Passaggio" (Passage) is another short instrumental describing the moment of the crossing of that strange threshold. It leads to "Viscido ambiente" (Slimy place) that describes a gloomy world inhabited by icy shadows without brain, a world where there's no peace. You can feel a sense of void spreading all around you and even inside your heart, there's nothing but hate here, you have to feed on it... The following "Pace immaginata" (Fancied peace) describes the crossing of this bleak world with its threatening panoramas. Every now and again some flames break through the darkness and shapeless beings disappear into the void, swallowed by black waves. You can perceive unknown shadows sucking your blood like parasites, driving you insane... At last you see a corridor and something pushes you in the right direction, towards the light at the end of the tunnel, towards a shelter...

video

At the sound of a bell, "Quattro stelle" (Four stars) welcomes you to a very different world of ethereal lights and sapphire skies. The four stars of the title refer to the four cardinal virtues that now show your way: prudence, justice, temperance and courage. Then a church-like organ passage drives you on the footsteps of a Love song while delicate melodies blow away the shadows of hell and their gloomy omens. A new hope is beating in your chest, you can see around you sinners who repent and start climbing a steep hill leading to a better dream...

Next comes "Nota stonata" (Discordant note) that describes in music and words a kind of Garden of Eden where you can find a perfect harmony. But someone is singing out of tune in the angelic choir, there's a soul down below that, pushed by human virtue, seeks for something that is not perfect at all. This soul is looking for the unknown, for great passions inspired by pagan muses, for never ending adventures and strong emotions...

Sezione Frenante 2014

The long, complex closer "Svegiati luce" (Wake up light) conjures up apocalyptic visions of exiled souls that have been waiting for a thousand years on the banks of the river Lethe. They're still waiting for boarding on the divine wooden ship that would take them across the river. It's a long, silent queue of uncertain spirits looking for a guide to lead them to a place where peace rules, a kingdom of light that will melt the shadows and dry the tears, where the sun rises like a blade of fire spreading its thaumaturgical strength all over creation...

On the whole, this is a very interesting album. Of course, seventies influences loom large over this work and it might not shine for originality but its mystical lyricism and its powerful and engaging musical colours make of it a real treat for Italianprog lovers. So, if you like modern progressive rock that’s based on classic Italian prog, you really have to check this band out.

Sezione Frenante: Metafora di un viaggio (2014). Other opinions:
Michael "Aussie-Byrd-Brother": "Metafora di un Viaggio" gets Sezione Frenante's belated studio recording career off to a great start, and the results have been more than worth the wait. A mix of pleasing melodic tunes and subtle, restrained but quietly thrilling instrumental moments, with a very joyful quality constantly present really makes this album shine brightly. Hopefully we see the band build on their efforts here with more recordings in the near future! (read the complete review HERE)

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