La Coscienza di Zeno began life in Genoa in 2007 on the initiative of three experienced musicians: Gabriele Guidi Colombi (bass - previously in other bands such as Trama, Narrow Pass, Armalite, Il Tempio delle clessidre, Hidebehind), Andrea Orlando (drums – previously with Finisterre, Malombra, Real Dream) and Alessio Clandriello (vocals – previously with Narrow Pass, Hidebehind, Klepsydra, Lucid Dream). Later the line up was completed by Stefano Agnini (keyboards), Davide Serpico (guitar) and Andrea Lotti (keyboards, guitar). The name of the band is taken from the tile of a famous novel by Italian writer Italo Svevo, Zeno’s Conscience, which is based on the psychological analysis of the protagonist, Zeno Cosini, a man who tries to find out the reasons of his emotional weakness. The musicians thought that there was a strong connection between the spirit of this literary work and what they were trying to express throughout their music and lyrics. Their first eponymous full length album was released in 2011 on the independent label Mellow Records and in the studio the band was helped by same guest musicians such as Luca Scherani (accordion), Joanne Roan (flute), Rossano Villa (strings arrangements) and Lidia Molinari (vocals) who contributed to enrich sound. The result is excellent, the strong influences of the Italian prog masters of the seventies are effectively mixed with a touch of up to date technology and an original song-writing. The original, disquieting art cover by Dario Milana (a.k.a. D Tao) probably depicts the content of the album better than many words...
The opener “Cronovisione” (Chronovision) starts with a keyboards surge and a lively rhythm but in the middle section the mood suddenly changes, there’s a thunder and the music stops giving way to a cryptic narrative vocal part... “The stones are telling a story / When you touch them lightly you become part of the story... The conscience of the matter submerges you / If it only could speak men will become insane...”. After this warning the rhythm rises again but the atmosphere becomes darker while some Oriental influences add a touch of mystery to the music.
“Gatto lupesco” (Wolfish cat) begins with piano and vocals in the forefront. The lyrics draw the blurred lines of a strange character, a young man whose look makes seem him much older than he really is. He’s tired of struggles, he would like to set off looking for new experiences but not in the army as his father did... Then the rhythm rises, the other instruments come in and the music becomes more complex. Along with the sunburnt body of the protagonist now you can see his tiredness and the shivering of someone who tried to overcome the remorse of his bad conscience but failed. Now his conscience surreptitiously tantalizes him like a “wolfish cat”... After an effervescent instrumental break the vocals come back commenting the attitude of the protagonist... “As if you were another man / As if you were speaking of another man / Your otherness prevents you to be yourself / And to be a different man as well...”.
“Il fattore precipitante” (The precipitant factor) deals in some way with therianthropy and describes a strange character who is going through a terrible inner conflict between instinct and reason. At last the factor that inhibits the animal instinct falls apart and gives way to the wild call of an inhuman nature... “Man-beast, old theriomorphs / Leader of the pack, you were born wrong...”. Soaring vocals fly towards unexpected heights as if howling to the moon.
The acoustic, evocative “Il basilisco” (The basilisk) is introduced by the accordion of the guest Luca Scherani and features a strong Mediterranean flavour. The lyrics describe in a poetical way a land between rocks and sea, a steep coast overlooking the sea and its merciless fury. It’s a beautiful country with a glorious past but where the life is hard and from where many people want to leave... “The basilisk spits at us the heritage of the coat of arms / Then it smiles and goes back to the sea / Looking for a new master to dominate...”.
“Un insolito baratto alchemico” (An unusual alchemic exchange) is an excellent instrumental track featuring many changes in rhythm and mood where electric guitar riffs, organ waves and swirling flute notes embroider dark images and unquiet dreams...
The final track “Acustica felina” (Feline acoustic) is complex and tense. The lyrics investigate the background of a haughty woman who acts like a star and looks like the beautiful witch in the story of Snow White... “Eat your damned apple, do it! / Get poisoned with your own taste / Once in your life taste yourself...”. The music leads you through the vortex of the conscience of a bad girl. She was a disappointment for her parents but she met the wrong people and is also a victim of her broken dreams... “Words pronounced with young innocence burn inside whom can to listen to them...”.
On the whole an excellent album. It’s not an easy one but it grows spin after spin...
You can listen to the complete album in streaming. Click HERE
Read the interview with the band on Progarchives. Click HERE
A new video for a new project...
La Coscienza di Zeno: La Coscienza di Zeno (2011). Other opinions:
Chris “Seventhsojourn”: I wasn't exactly bowled over at first by the seemingly less-than-adventurous music, but then some of the best progressive music suffers from the very same perceived deficiency. And sure enough this album's initially vague landscape slowly came into perspective with repeated plays, like clouds of mist drifting away to leave a clear summer's day... (read the complete review HERE)
Jim Russell: I am captivated by the sweeping twists and turns, the heartfelt, soaring emotions, and the transitions from one interesting, lovely section to another. Even some dissonance and non-linear surprises here and there, but mostly just knockout, exceptional Italian prog... (read the complete review HERE).
Raffaella Benvenuto-Berry: Indeed,
La Coscienza di Zeno is a must for all lovers of vintage Italian prog, adding the band to the growing list of excellent “traditional but modern” acts that already includes their fellow Genoese Il Tempio delle Clessidre and La Maschera di Cera, as well as the revamped Delirium. Highly recommended to symphonic prog fans and anyone who is not put off by foreign-language vocals... (read the complete review HERE).
Raffaella Benvenuto-Berry: Indeed,