Tuesday, 18 October 2011

OF WIND AND WATER


OLOFERNE are an Italian band from Chiaravalle, in the Province of Ancona. The line up features Alessandro Piccioni (vocals, bass, flute), Giacomo Medici (vocals, guitar, percussion), Giuseppe Cardamone (violin), Gianluca Agostinelli (guitars), Stefano Procaccini (guitars, bass) and Marco Medici (drums, percussion).


They started their musical project in 1999 trying to blend different influences ranging from medieval atmospheres to folk rock and progressive. In 2001 they recorded an eponymous debut album that was released and distributed by the independent label Ethnoworld/Venus in 2003. Since then they have alternated concerts and activities for theatre maturing a very good experience on stage. In December 2004 they released a second album that obtained a very positive feed-back by critics and media, “Le Parole del Vento” (The words of the wind), self-produced and featuring collaborations with artists such as Gastone Pietrucci (La Macina) and Sandro Severini (Gang).


After an intense activity on stage, in 2008 they finally released a third self-produced album “Segno d'acqua” (Water sign) which in my opinion is their best so far...

The opener “L’argonauta” (The Argonaut) is a kind of musical travelogue on the wings of poetry, full of toasts and fragrances, where echoes of Latin America are mixed with a suggestive Mittel-European flavour. It recalls an electric tango featuring Gypsy violin counterpoints...

The following track “Volver” (Back) is in the same vein and features a lively rhythm and swirling flute passages... “I run away and I’m distracted by voices coming from the south... Don’t be afraid, fight the wind if it wears you out...”. 

Next comes “L’amore della salamandra” (The love of the salamander), a piece full of sensuality where the sexual act is celebrated like an old ancestral ritual by a beautiful witch... “It’s two minutes to 3 a.m. / I’ve already set everything for you and me / There’s a fertile moon, the salamanders are breeding / Hot stuff is running in the veins...”.


La Piedra del Paranà” (The stone from Paranà) is another good track. It begins softly and the mood is dreamy, then the violin and flute lead to a lively dance where dreams can sail across the ocean and you can breath the clouds while melancholy and whispers flow away... “When my body will become of water / Death will die and I’ll be the stone of Paranà...”.

“La preghiera del marinaio” (The sailor’s prayer) and “A largo di Punta Stilo” (Off Punta Stilo) are linked together and form a mini suite about a naval accident that happened on March 22, 1965 near Punta Stilo, on the sea off the coast of Calabria. During a military exercise two ships of the Italian navy, the frigate Castore and another ship named Etna (as the volcano), collided and four sailors died. This piece is dedicated to the victims: Aristide Duse, Vittorio Celli, Domenico Franzese and Franco Pardini... “What’s up? What are these waves? Where is Aristide? / It’s the end, I’m drowning, it’s night... Domenico is not with me / The water is coming in too fast / Virgin Mary, help me!...”. There’s surprise but soon the rage against an incompetent captain takes over, there’s anguish and fear... “Captain, my captain, where are you? Maybe you’re already sleeping below deck / I hope that the sea will cover you as well... In a moment I understood how salted is the sea / It’s the mirror of those stars that you won’t see upon me...”.
 
The frigate Castore

“Controcanto” (Counter-singing) is a powerful ballad challenging the fate and the wind with its strong melodic lines... It’s about a song that soars against the wind in a warm night where the heart is open and makes you feel master of your destiny... “You look for the moon... You look for the fortune / But the wheel is spinning fast and it will never stop...”.

Byzantium” and “Oggi i pensieri sono alberi” (Today the thoughts are trees) form another mini suite that begins by slow and hypnotic bass lines while evocative sounds in the background draw a mysterious Oriental atmosphere... “Today the thoughts are like trees / Thanks to the sun there’s more shade for me / I seem free among my Britons dreams / But from trunks to obstacles the step is short...”. Then rhythm takes off and thoughts become flying leaves, voices of a choir that mixed together are going out of tune... “Please do not sing, leave me alone...”. This track features the jazz-musician Leonardo Sbaffi as a special guest on saxophone who adds a touch of colour.


“Fa# come Fard” (F# as blush) is a lively ballad that was already present on Oloferne’s debut album. Here we find a new arrangement with violin and flute in the forefront. The piece is dedicated to Astarte, the goddess of music... “If the hell does exist / It’s just an impression or a moment...”.   

The last track “Il segno d’acqua” (Water sign) is another beautiful acoustic ballad. It’s about the wish to set off on a journey across the sea running after the dreams. But this wish is counter-balanced by the fear of the waves... “My tattooed anchors are sinking into the wine / Today I missed one more time the train leading to my destiny...”. After a pause appears, as a ghost track, a short recitative passage, a tribute to Herman Melville’s novel “Moby-Dick” that concludes this very good album dedicated to water.


Oloferne: Segno d'acqua (2008). Other opinions:
Ken Levine: Oloferne's third disc is their most modern and polished, with an energy hitherto only hinted at. While the mystical and ritualistic mood of their debut is long past, the group seems to have achieved a better balance than on their sophomore effort. In fact there is a bit of a retrenchment towards their folk roots albeit at a higher octane level. The sound remains highly informed by the increasingly confident vocals of Alessandro Piccioni and Giacomo Medici , and the delightful celtic meets classical violin of Giuseppe Cardamone... (read the complete review HERE).


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