Monday, 21 November 2011

STRANGE CINEPHILE FROGS

RanestRane (the name means Strange Frogs) are an Italian prog band from Rome that was formed in 1996. The line up features Daniele Pomo (vocals, drums, percussion, keyboards), Massimo Pomo (electric and acoustic guitars), Riccardo Romano (keyboards, harmonium, moog) and Maurizio Meo (bass). The aim of the musicians involved in this project was to compose and perform a “rock-opera”, so they chose a famous Werner Herzog’s film, “Nosferatu the Vampyre”, and commented it with music and original lyrics. They started their live activity in 2000 and conceived their shows as a “cine-concerto”, with the images of Werner Herzog’s film flowing in the background. In 2006 they released their rock opera on a self-produced studio double album.

RanestRane

Well, in 2005 another (prog) rock opera about vampires was released by PFM and a comparison is due... In my opinion both works mix prog elements with a strong melodic flavour and are in some way complementary: if you like the subject matter and PFM’s “Dracula” I’m sure you will love this good and elaborate work too. “Nosferatu il Vampiro” is conceived as a long suite in two parts that can be appreciated also without images. The music flows steady without really weak moments alternating changes in rhythm and gloomy atmospheres to light, intense melodies. The beautiful art cover reproduces a painting by Caspar David Friedrich called “Cloister Cemetery in the snow” and it perfectly fits the overall mood of the album. The vocal parts featuring original lyrics are intertwined with fragments of the film dialogues that contribute to keep up the tension... “I had a dream my love / But it’s so strange / That I cannot remember it...”.


On the whole a good album with a peculiar feeling and a touch of originality that differentiates this work from others and make it “unique”.

RanestRane: Nosferatu il Vampiro (2006). Other opinions:
Paul Fowler: The album sits largely at the symphonic side of Italian prog with a strong emphasis on melodic songwriting. For such a project it may have been expected that a more instrumental approach with lots of atmospherics may have been a more obvious way forward, so it perhaps will come as a surprise that although these elements are present it's an album based more on the song. The more atmospheric moments tend to occur more when underscoring the film dialogue and while this will no doubt work well in the live arena with the film projected in the background, I find myself feeling a little detached at these moments... (Read the complete review HERE)


After the promising 2006 debut, in 2011 RanestRane released another self-produced double album conceived as a cine-concerto. This time the starting point is The Shining, a 1980 psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson in the role of Jack Torrance. The film is based on the 1977 novel of the same name by Stephen King and is set in an isolated hotel in the mountains of Colorado. It tells the story of a man who tries to murder his wife and his son but the line between the supernatural and the psychotic is blurred... What, exactly, is impelling Jack Torrance toward murder in the winter- isolated rooms and hallways of the Overlook Hotel? Is it undead people, or undead memories? Mr. Kubrick and I came to different conclusions... but perhaps those different conclusions are, in fact, the same. For aren’t memories the true ghosts of our lives? Do they not drive all of us to words and acts we regret from time to time? (Stephen King from the introduction to the 2001  Pocket Books Edition of the novel).


“I’m an engine rediscovering the limits... I’m rediscovering the effort, and the bruises...”. The lyrics depict a damned diary of insanity, a mind that gives in under the weight of the snow, drinking the waters of oblivion... The melodic sung parts alternate with evocative instrumental passages and some excerpts from the dialogues of the film with a very good result. The music is more aggressive than in the band’s debut work and sometimes tension hangs over you like a cloud full of black rain, pregnant, ready to burst. But in other moments the music becomes soft and sweet and mellow, following you down into a deeper sleep where thought ceases and the faces that come in dreams go unremembered... “You’ll savor the waters of oblivion! / Hedges and corridors, bright red all around...”.


Well, I like very much both the novel and the film. In my opinion the musical and lyrical interpretation of RanestRane is quite good as well... The packaging is excellent too and the art cover reproduces a painting by Zdzislaw Beksinski that perfectly fits the mood of this work.

RanestRane: Shining (2011). Other opinions:
Jim Russell: In describing their sound I would say they mix together elements of classy symphonic, Hogarth-era Marillion, and a touch of the legendary Italian band Goblin in spirit. Their sound is clean and highly expressive and their playing impeccable. Filled with melody and foggy atmospherics, the moods and pace vary greatly from high energy rock with loud lead guitar to soft, trance like passages. Spoken word dialogue from the film seeps through. Basically the band is taking you for a long ride designed specifically to coincide with the film you are watching... (read the complete review HERE).

More info about the band: