Sunday, 10 January 2021

FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON

 Avocado Moon Experiment is a project from Turin started in 2016 with the aim of composing a sci-fi rock opera blending progressive rock and metal. The project took a more definite form in 2020 and on the 30th of December of the same year the band digitally self-released a promising debut album entitled Darrell's Journal 2116 with a line up featuring composer and multi-instrumentalist Giuseppe Floridia (guitar, keyboards, bass, vocals) along with Marco Benigno (vocals), Giulia Valerin (vocals), Luca Ragusa (guitar, bass) and Luca Zanon (drums) plus the guests Jacopo Albini (clarinet), Madalina Smocov (flute), Maria Beatrice Venanzi (violin) and Giuseppe Vizzini (flute). The album was recorded and mixed by Giuseppe Floridia in his Floryd Sounds Studio and collects the first five chapters of what is meant as a work in progress telling a long story set in a dystopic future... 
 

 
The nervous opener “Chapter 1: Dawn In Salem” sets the atmosphere and introduces the subject matter. In 2116, in a dreamless world, after a restless night the protagonist, a man called Darrell who lives in the city of Salem, volunteers for a project named Avocado Moon Experiment. The A.M.E. project was launched by the firm Avocado Industries that after the construction of a city on the moon named Jera, now looks for some people to send there to experience a new utopia: a life where money and work are not necessary in a place where everything is in charge to the machines... 
 

 
In “Chapter 2: The Spacewhale”, on a steady marching pace we can follow the journey from the earth to the moon through Darrell’s journal. The following “Chapter 3: Beyond The Clouds” begins by a guitar arpeggio and soaring, dreamy notes of flute in the forefront backed by the rhythm section and the organ. Three months after the arrival in Jera life goes on lazy and peaceful but the protagonist feels that something is missing and his sense of nostalgia and confusion is strong. Then Darrell begins a relationship with a woman called Scarlett and they find mutual understanding and comfort... 
 
Avocado Moon Experiment, 2020

 
Next comes “Chapter 4: Innocence” that tells of the doubts and regrets of Darrell and Scarlett. They wonder where’s gone the inner fire that can stir desires and emotions and, between instinct and reason, they realize that something is lost while memories come back and the awareness of a new responsibility emerges... The last track, “Chapter 5: The Star Rover”, features some excellent, classical inspired, instrumental passages and welcomes the birth of the son of Darrell and Scarlett, Charles the Star Rover, who will learn to travel through space and time... 
 

 
On the whole, this is a good album with an interesting concept, nice melodies, a good interaction between theatrical male and female vocals and some beautiful instrumental passages. Waiting for the next chapters of the story, we have here a work of more than 32 minutes of music that is really worth listening to... 
 
You can listen to the complete album HERE
 
More info:




Monday, 4 January 2021

GIVE AND TAKE

 UT New Trolls are just one of the many offshoots of historic Genoese New Trolls (like Ibis, New Trolls Atomic System and Tritons in the seventies and later La Storia dei New Trolls, Il Mito dei New Tolls, Il Cuore dei New Trolls, La Leggenda dei New Trolls...), all featuring some of the old members claiming the heritage of the original band. This project took off in 2011 under the name Uno Tempore on the initiative of New Trolls’ historic members Gianni Belleno and Maurizio Salvi who gathered around them a bunch of talented musicians with the aim of reviving the “prog soul” of New Trolls, in particular performing live pieces from the 1972 album Ut and other material from the early seventies. In 2012 a live album entitled Live In Milano was released under the name Uno Tempore New Trolls and in 2013 the band with the name shortened to UT New Trolls released a brand new studio work entitled Do Ut Des on the independent label Immaginifica with a renewed line up featuring Gianni Belleno (drums, vocals), Maurizio Salvi (keyboards, piano, Hammond), Alessandro Del Vecchio (keyboards, piano, vocals), Claudio Cinquegrana (electric and acoustic guitar) and Anna Portalupi (bass). Despite the good intentions, I have to say that for a prog fan the fruits of their work could have a bitter taste since the prog soul of the band here seems to be smothered by the prevailing pop, melodic vein that is also part of New Trolls’ DNA... 
 

 
The album opens with promising short instrumental “Paganini”, then comes “Per ogni lacrima” (For every tear), a piece about the healing power of friendship and love that starts with a sparkling, classical inspired, organ passage. Unfortunately, after a minute the music veers to AOR and could remind of New Trolls’ albums like Aldebaran rather than Ut. 
 
“La luce di Vermeer” (Vermeer’s light) combines melodic vocal parts and bolder instrumental passages. It’s a good piece where the lyrics invite you to look in a different way at people who serve time in prison because not all of them took deliberately the career of evil but some where just doomed by an ill fate and a difficult social condition. Even those branded with the sign of Cain should deserve another chance and bit of respect... 
 

 
The following “Oltre il cielo” (Beyond the sky) is just a melodic ballad dealing with the need to overcome the consequences of the traumatic end of a relationship while “Rispettare può salvare” (Respecting can save) is a reflection about the never ending conflicts in the Middle East and the troubled situation in Palestine. The softer parts evoke a comet over Bethlehem and the hope that sooner or later men will learn the mutual respect and live in peace...
 
“Do Ut Des” (Give and take) is a beautiful piece, featuring many brilliant classical inspired passages and lyrics inspired by an absolute love for Music. Next comes “Sarà per noi” (It will be for us) a touching, romantic ballad with beautiful harmony vocals. Then the dreamy “Siamo ancora qui” (We’re still here) tries to express the feelings and the emotion of the musicians on stage, even after many years of career... 
 

 
The swinging “Sporca politica” (Dirty politics) is a kind of ranting against the politicians who waste the money collected with taxes in their games of power but in my opinion the committed lyrics and the carefree music are neither here nor there and this is probably the weakest point of the album. The closer “Can’t Go On” could be considered as a bonus track since it’s just the English version of “Oltre il cielo” sung by the special guest Dennis "Fergie" Frederiksen from Toto. 
 
On the whole, in my opinion this is a good AOR album with some hints of prog that should be of interest for fans of bands such as Toto but that is not essential in a prog collection.
 
You can listen to the complete album HERE
 
 
 



Friday, 1 January 2021

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

 Ages is an Ep that was released by Anabasi Road in 2016, two years after their eponymous full length album. The line up is the same of their previous work and features Andrea Giberti (vocals, harmonica), Massimiliano Braglia (electric and acoustic guitar), Alessio Gambarelli (guitar, flute, backing vocals), Riccardo Vecchi (bass, backing vocals), Luca Orlandini (keyboards, organ, piano, synth) and Nicholas Corradini (drums, guitar, backing vocals) but a string quartet contributed to enrich the sound during the recording sessions with good results. The overall sound is a mix of vintage prog, hard rock, classical influences and blues expressed with enthusiasm and passion. The beautiful drawings by Giulia Tubertini for the art cover and booklet try to give you an idea of the colourful musical content...
 

In fact, all the tracks of this EP are linked together and form a long suite divided into four parts where the music and lyrics tell of a personal crises with its traumas, doubts and hopes depicted with vivid colours and surreal images. The first part, “What Does It Mean?”, describes the point of no return with the deterioration of the family routine and the desire to escape and experience a new way of life. For this section of the suite the band shot a video that you can find on YT or as a bonus on the CD. 
 

 
Bridge To Another Rainbow, Part I: Sunset Prelude is an instrumental section with the string quartet in the forefront and melancholic, evocative passages melting into the tormented “Bridge To Another Rainbow, Part II: Morning Comes” that describes a time of difficult choices and challenges where fears and forgotten hopes emerge and you have to look deeply into your soul to break free and find again your self-esteem... The powerful, reassuring section entitled “The Dream Machine” is about the daily fight to affirm your ideals and personality and ends the suite with its positive energy. 
 
On the whole, a nice work that deserves a try. 
 
You can listen to the complete EP HERE
 
More info:


Thursday, 31 December 2020

GROWING UP

 Protocollo C came to life in 2012 in Bra, a town in the province of Cuneo, with a line up featuring Marco Vona (guitar), Daniele Sagli (drums), Alessandro Aiello (organ, keyboards) and Alessandro Dellarocca (bass). Soon they started to experiment and compose original stuff and in 2017 they recorded an interesting eponymous debut album that was released in 2018 on the independent label Lizard Records. On this work you can listen to an excellent mix of vintage sounds with echoes of the incredible Jimmy Smith at the organ, a pinch of blues and a touch of funky-prog with a strong penchant for seventies soundtracks of Italian B-movies in the vein of bands such as La Batteria or Calibro 35. In fact, this is an instrumental concept album, an imaginary soundtrack where every piece represents a phase of the life of a common man. In the booklet you can find a drawing by Matteo Manera and a short comment by Chiara Fissore for every piece describing in some way what the music is about. Anyway, the listener is always the main protagonist... 
 

 
The nice opener “Adolescenza” (Adolescence) starts by a cheerful, carefree marching beat and describes a period in a man life where everything seems possible. It contrasts with the following “Maturità” (Maturity) and its staid, obsessive pace and sudden frenzied passages that mark the need to achieve the goal to find a job and settle down in the period of life when a man is supposed to sign a deal with the future... 
 

 
“Perdita della routine” (Loss of routine) is darker and deals with the stifling formality of family life and the work daily grind. The burden of acting always by rote drives you crazy, tension rises as you feel the need to assert yourself and you try to find a way out from your monotonous routine. Next comes “Premeditazione” (Premeditation) that marks the effort to break through from the cage of your reality reacting against the mocking twists of the fate that made your life so uninteresting and boring... 
 
Protocollo C, 2017

 
The nervous, tense “Metamorfosi degli innocenti” (Metamorphosis of the innocents) expresses the tearing choice to get rid of the mask you wear every day to hide your feelings while the following “Presa di coscienza” (Realization) marks the bewilderment of a personal crises where everything gets blurred and regrets become heavier and heavier... 
 

 
The up tempo of “Fierezza” (Proudness) swings from reggae to funky rock to underline the will to get up, stand up and fight for your dreams. You need strength and boldness to look inside yourself and find the positive energies you need to get free... The following “Consapevolezza” (Awareness) tries to convey the idea of analysis and reflection. Once you know the hidden aspects of your personality, you can begin to rebuild your life and consider new plans for your future... 
 

 
The drawing associated to “Goodbye Italia” suggests a new start, a train to catch and new challenges on the horizon. The folkloric elements in the music and the lively rhythm show that for you there are no borders now and the world is your home... Eventually, the long final track entitled “Flashback” makes you relive the different phases of your life as in a dream, from the years of youth to the present. 
 
On the whole, a very pleasant listening! 
 
You can listen to the complete album HERE
 
More info:




Monday, 28 December 2020

NATURAL FREQUENCIES

 La Stazione delle Frequenze are a young band from Benevento that try to blend the sound of historic Italian prog bands such as Osanna, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso or Locanda delle Fate with prog metal and canzone d’autore. Formed in 2016, after a couple of years spent composing original stuff and performing live on the local scene, in 2019 they self-released an interesting debut album entitled “Physis” with a line up featuring Alberto Cervone (vocals), Angelantonio Donisi (guitar), Pierfrancesco Corbo (guitar), Andrea Tretola (keyboards), Luca Iorio (bass) and Andrea Passaro (drums). According to the band, the title of the album refers to a Greek philosophical, theological and scientific term that means nature and all the tracks follow a common thread, that of the human nature and its relationship with the environment, narrated through different experiences and stories. The art work by Adolfo Calandro tries to describe the conceptual content...



The dreamy opener “Dissolvenza” (Fading) is a short instrumental piece that sets the atmosphere and leads to the social committed “A Siria” (To Syria) that alternates raging passages where the music and lyrics describe a  land ravaged by war, where obscurantism and ignorance rule, and softer parts where there’s room for the hope you can find in the pure, sincere soul of a little baby named Siria like the tormented Middle-Eastern country... 



The following “Ombre sul mare” (Shadows on the sea) starts by a quiet piano pattern, then heavy guitar riffs come in, the rhythm rises and frenzied passages alternates with softer ones. It’s a piece full of hope in a hostile world where even the sea of fantasy hides hooks and baits. The music and lyrics praise the force of people who never give up their ideals and are always ready to accept new challenges, who refuse violence and proudly walk on the ruins of a gloomy past trying to be like rain falling in the arid desert of melancholy...

La Stazione delle Frequenze on stage, 2019


“Racconto” (Tale) tells in music and words a story set in an ancient castle that was freely inspired by an old Samnite legend. A mischievous imp called Mazzamauriello falls in love with the blacksmith’s beautiful daughter who runs away, frightened by his behaviour. Upset, all the people of the surroundings follow her leaving the castle desert. The imp then promises to change his way of life and the story comes to a happy end...



The dreamy “Non ci resta che aspettare l’aurora” (We just have to wait for the dawn) is a short piece that depicts a peaceful, pastoral landscape at the end of a beautiful summer day and leads to the epic “Il sentiero del vento” (The path of the wind), a long, complex track divided into two parts dealing with the eternal cycle of the seasons and the regenerating powers of Mother Nature, fears and expectations, the will to go on and overcome all the obstacles you can find on the steep paths of life just to breathe a fresh gust of happiness... Then the joyful “Nuovi Orizzonti” (New horizons) ends the album with its strong charge of optimism and hope for better days to come. 

On the whole, a very promising work that is really worth listening to.

You can listen to the album HERE

More info: