Saturday, 24 September 2011

LIGURIA (part 2)

The prog vein of Genoa has not dried up yet and its contemporary prog scene is still full of talented musicians. Undoubtedly a very important and prolific one is Fabio Zuffanti (Facebook), bass player and composer who is behind many projects of great interest to prog lovers. The first one is Finisterre (Facebook), a band that began life in 1993 with a symphonic sound although over the years their music has been contaminated by other influences and a slight pop touch. Then there are Höstsonaten (Facebook), who started as a Fabio Zuffanti solo project and have a more acoustic, pastoral sound. La Maschera di Cera (Facebook) are another band formed on the initiative of Fabio Zuffanti featuring a vintage sound heavily drawing on the legacy of the seventies Italian prog scene. In 2010 they recruited a new guitarist and released a very good album, Petali di fuoco.

Other projects of Fabio Zuffanti that deserve mentioning here are Aries (Facebook), featuring a more folk prog vein with Celtic influences, L'Ombra della Sera (Official Website), drawing inspiration from the soundtracks and atmopsheres of some old Italian TV series, and Rohmer (Official Website), an experimental project with a strong electronic touch. In 2000 Fabio Zuffanti also composed a rock opera, Merlin – The Rock Opera, and now is working on a new one, Cime tempestose, inspired by Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights. Another member of Finisterre, La Maschera di Cera and Rohmer, Agostino Macor, started a jazz-rock-experimental side-project called Zaal (Facebook) featuring Fabio Zuffanti as a guest, which should be of some interest to prog lovers.

In my opinion there are also very interesting projects started by singer and lyricist Mercy and bassist Diego Banchero, musicians who feature in the line-ups of bands as Malombra (MySpace) and Il Segno del Comando, (Facebook) both formed in the nineties and featuring a hard, dark sound. In 2003 Mercy formed Ianva (Facebook), a very interesting project featuring a folky, pastoral sound while Diego Banchero is now behind two other interesting acoustic driven projects, Egida Aurea (Facebook) and Recondita Stirpe (Facebook). Another former member of Malombra, Fabio Casanova, started a solo project called Sad Minstrel (Facebook).

Two members of Ianva, Fabio Gremo and Francesco La Rosa are also involved in another band with a much heavier sound, Daedalus (Facebook). The latest Ianva album included the collaboration of keyboardist Elisa Montaldo, founder member in 2006 of Il Tempio delle Clessidre (Facebook) along with veteran Stefano “Lupo” Galifi, vocalist on the famous Museo Rosenbach album “Zarathustra” and later rock-blues singer in local cover bands. The name of the band was inspired by the title of a part of the suite “Zarathustra” and the initial idea of the band was to play on stage the whole of the first Museo Rosenbach album with the original singer and new arrangements featuring vintage sounds. After some line-up changes (the current line-up features also Fabio Gremo on bass), in September 2010 the band released an amazing eponymous debut album containing only original pieces.

Another founder member of Il Tempio delle Clessidre, bassist Gabriele Guidi Colombi, left the group and formed along with other experienced musicians a new band called La Coscienza di Zeno (Facebook) that in 2011 released an excellent eponymous debut album.

Neo prog lovers will appreciate Eris Pluvia (Facebook), a band formed in the late eighties and still in activity. In 2010 they released an interesting new album, Third Eye Light. In the same style we find The Ancient Veil (Facebook), formed by one of Eris Pluvia’s founder members, Alessandro Serri, after he left the band. On the initiative of another Eris Pluvia member, Mauro Montobbio, Narrow Pass (Facebook), a band whose roots go back to the eighties, recently reformed. Narrow Pass is the English translation of “Pietre Strette”, a wild an evocative spot on Mount Portofino, not far from Genoa. Their latest album, In This World And Beyond, was released in 2009 and features the collaboration of La Maschera di Cera vocalist Alessandro Corvaglia and Il Tempio delle Clessidre keyboardist Elisa Montaldo.  

Another interesting local artist is Giorgio Cesare Neri (Facebook) who in 2009 released his debut album Logos, a work full of vitality and surprises that was conceived as a spiritual path, from birth to the final curtain of death. Giorgio Cesare Neri composed, arranged and recorded all the tracks in his home studio with the collaboration of some guest musicians who helped enrich the sound and the result is quite good. Giorgio Cesare Neri is also one of the founder members of Agarthi Sound Factory (Facebook), a band formed in the mid nineties that had an ephemeral life. In 2008 old members joined again for new projects.

Well, the contemporary prog scene of Genoa is particularly rich and varied, it can satisfy every taste. You can find here other neo prog bands such as Aelian (Official Website) and Trama (Facebook), founded in the mid nineties and featuring a keyboardist from Chiavari, Luca Scherani (Official Website), or jazz-rock fusion bands as The Great Complotto (Facebook), Cripta (Official Website) and The Presage (MySpace), an old project that guitarist Giacomo Caliolo is trying to revive. Psychedelic rock lovers can listen here to Fungus (Facebook), dark art-rock lovers will surely enjoy an interesting band called Tenebrae (Official Website) or Medea Tarantula (MySpace) while prog folk fans will probably appreciate the solo works by flutist Gian Castello (Facebook) or the dark neo-folk of a band called Tears of Othila (Facebook).

Worth mentioning also are the classically inspired works of guitarist Maurizio Oddone (MySpace), the experimental Calomito (MySpace), a post rock band called Hermitage (MySpace), New Machine (Reverbnation), Jus Primae Noctis (Facebook) and the emerging Rokh (Reverbnation), Promenade (Facebook) and Cahier Noir (MySpace), formerly Parànomy, featuring metal influences.

To conclude our visit to Genoa, I think it’s useful to add that active in this city is an association called Centro Studi per il Progressive Italiano whose goal is to study and promote Italian Progressive Rock. One of the founders, Riccardo Storti, wrote a whole book about the prog scene of the seventies in Genoa, Codice Zena, and a biography of I New Trolls, New Trolls, dal pesto al sushi. In Genoa you can also find the headquarters of the independent label Black Widow Records, specialized in progressive rock with a special leaning towards dark-prog productions.