Sunday, 29 December 2019

MAGIC AND ROSES

The Magic Park Of Dark Roses is the third album by Old Rock City Orchestra and was released in 2018 on the independent label Avanguardia Convention. In 2016 original bassist Giacomo Cocchiara left the band and the other members decided to continue as a trio. So, the line up on this work features just Cinzia Catalucci (vocals, keyboards, percussion), Raffaele Spanetta (acoustic and electric guitars, bass, vocals, additional keyboards) and Michele “Mike” Capriolo (drums, Glockenspiel, percussion) although during the recording sessions they were helped by some guests such as Laurence Cocchiara (violin) and Chiara Dragoni (flute). The atmospheres and the overall sound are darker than on their previous albums but this is due to the subject matter of the concept: a spiritual, metaphorical journey through a dystopic world drenched in esoteric symbolism and alchemical formulas... According to the liner notes, all the lyrics were inspired by some poems by Kalina Doncheva while the beautiful art work was provided by Lucy Ziniac and tries to describe the musical content with images and colours. 


The title track opens the album and lead us in a mysterious, magic park where the cold winds give way to an eternal springtime, a land out of time and space where dark roses grow, a kind of limbo that attracts everyone... Here the lyrics give us just a faint hint of the strange panorama. Organ passages, electric guitar riffs and calmer piano parts conjure up a psychedelic atmosphere and the soaring vocals of Cinzia Catalucci help us to stir the imagination and to draw a personal picture of the surreal, occult landscape…


The following “Abraxas” is a nervous track that depicts a man who has lost his way and asks for help. The title of this piece refers to a mystic word that was believed to have magical properties and was inscribed on ancient charms and amulets. The early Gnostics personified the word as their Supreme Deity and here the goddess is the one who shows the way to the magic park... Next comes the melancholic “The Fall”, a piece that describes the pain a man experiences for his broken dreams and failures at the end of his days. The music has a slow pace and strong Oriental flavours… Well, it’s a beautiful day and Bombay’s calling!


The Gothic “Visions” conjures up the image of a mysterious park in the night, full of stealing shadows and dangers. The protagonist seems like sleepwalking when suddenly the voice of a wizard shows him the way out and the light… Then the following “A Night In The Forest” tells us of another strange meeting in a dark forest, this time is the turn of a woman dressed in black who whispers to the protagonist that life is like a nightmare...


The short, frenzied “The Coachman” describes in music and words a carriage that takes the protagonist to the world of shadows. The coachman here is a kind of Charon, the mythological ferryman of Hades who carried the souls of the newly deceased across the rivers that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead... Then come the mysterious atmospheres of “A Smell Of Heart And Soul Entwined” a piece where dreams, temptations, spells and desires are evoked as in a magic ritual...


The disquieting “Thinkin’ ‘bout Fantasy” marks the meeting with a peculiar storyteller while the following “Soul Blues” is a bit lighter and tells about the importance of friendship and its healing power by describing the meeting with another mysterious character coming out of the blue. Then the beautiful instrumental “Golden Dawn” closes an album that is really worth listening to...

Even if the concept might be a bit hazy, the music is excellent and you can fill the gaps of the storyline with your own imagination. On the whole, I think that this is a very good work!

You can listen to the complete album HERE

More info:

Friday, 20 December 2019

NIGHT TIME

Hailing from Milan, Frontecielo is the brainchild of two talented multi-instrumentalists, Donatella Basilico (keyboards, drums, percussion, lead vocals) and Piero Caniparo (electric and acoustic guitars, bass, guitar synth, backing vocals). Their project is an effort to blend different influences such as progressive rock, fusion, metal, pop, classical music and opera to express their feelings. After a long, painstaking work, in 2017 they self-released a debut album entitled Nights, a concept album sui generis where all the tracks follow a common thread, inspired by nocturnal experiences. In fact, according to their website, the album's title comes from the consideration that in some way each piece has some connection with the night. The art cover painted by Donatella Basilico tries to capture the mood of this work...


The long opener “The Light Now” starts softly with a dreamy atmosphere, then sharp electric guitar riffs break in… The music and lyrics try to describe that particular moment when a person is going to fall asleep, ready to forget the daily problems and the real world. It’s the moment when the doors of a deeper world open and something magic could happen, sudden and unexpected, when the dark wings of the night promise a sweet flight and everything starts to melt like colours on an enchanted canvas...

The melancholic “Shining Dreams” depicts regrets and fragile hopes crumbling like castles made of sand while the following “The Path Of Mirages” is a beautiful instrumental piece that conjures up far, mysterious lands and oriental flavours… It leads to the caustic “Sand Man” that portrays a man who blindly follows fashions and habits without thinking, a man made of his own fears, a man threatened by the wind of change and that could be blown away by a simple breath of vitality...


The following “Fragments”, on the contrary, is reflective piece that describe the feelings of a fugitive man who try to escape from the cage of the daily grind, exploring the darkest road of his soul to run after his dreams. Of his past there’s nothing left but fragments of crystal dreams that now he tries to pick up and put together. Here the music and the voice of Donatella Basilico every now and again remind me of Natalie Merchant… It leads to the melodic ballad “Heart Of Time” that drives you in an inner emotional world where past, present and future melt together. 

Then it’s the turn of the evocative instrumental “Edmondo”, influenced by Astor Piazzolla and the sounds accordion... The ironic “Monsters & Regrets” ends the album. It starts by a delicate acoustic guitar arpeggio before taking off like a vague Bohemian rhapsody and tells us that sometimes regrets could become like haunting monsters creeping out from our nightmares and following us everywhere we go, even in the subway…

On the whole, a nice work that deserves a try!

You can listen to the complete album HERE

More info: