The opener “Overture” sets the atmosphere. The mood is dark and calm, then the rhythm slowly rises while Oriental influences add a touch of exoticism to a musical tableau where you can see a flock seagulls merrily dancing. The birds are flying over a ship and show the way while some threatening black clouds are gathering on the horizon and an impending sense of doom hangs on the sailors...
“Il matrimonio” (The marriage) depicts the beginning of the poem. The music is lively and tries to describe three men on their way to the church where the marriage of one of their relatives is going to be celebrated. Suddenly the music stops and the mood changes. An old sailor stops one of the three men... “Stop, stay a while with me / Listen to me now that you can...”. The voice of the singer now is the voice of the ancient mariner...
“Nella tempesta” (In the storm) opens with a thundering drum roll, then aggressive electric guitar riffs and raging organ waves come in. A “tyrannous and strong” storm drives the ship off course, towards south, to
Antarctica... The music and lyrics take you on board... “I want to show where it goes / The ship chased by the storm... I still remember it / My ruin began then...”.
“E quanto è immenso l’oceano di ghiaccio” (And how vast is the ocean of ice) is a beautiful, complex track that tries to depict a desolated landscape of ice and solitude... After the storm the sun shines high over emerald green ice blocks. The sailors in dismal can see nothing but ice all around them and on the horizon there’s no shape of men nor beasts... “No shape nor beast...”.
“L’albatro” (The albatross) begins softly and marks the meeting with a strange bird, an albatross. The beautiful bird in some way speaks to the desperate men... “And now turn your gaze to me... Follow me, follow me...”. The sailors follow the flight of the bird and find a way out from their prison of ice but at a certain point one of the sailors, the ancient mariner, feels the sudden impulse to shoot the bird with his cross-bow. An aggressive electric guitar riff underlines the infernal action... “And the scream suffocates our breathing... Take me, kill me...”.
“Apologia” (Apology) starts in a frenzied way, then a surreal calm comes down... “I committed my infernal action, I killed the beast / First I was condemned, then I was celebrated as a hero / You’re guilty as well...”. Initially the other sailors got angry with the mariner since they believed that the albatross brought the south wind that led them out of
Antarctica. However they changed their heart when the weather became warmer and the mist disappeared since they thought that it was the bird that brought the fog and mist. They made a mistake in supporting this crime as it aroused the wrath of the spirits who then started haunting the ship. The south wind now sends the ship into uncharted waters, where it is becalmed...
“Silenzio del mare” (Silence of the sea) is definitely closer to post rock than to vintage prog and perfectly depicts a long sad time in the sea where the crew has to wait for a breath of wind... “Day after day, day after day / As a painted ship in a windy sky / While our throats were drying...”. Time passed by and one day another ship appeared, a ghost ship! “A sail, a sail! / The sail was moving fast the bones of its crew as a spider-web does...”.
“Dadi d’ossa” (Dice of bone) is a powerful, dramatic instrumental featuring a good flute work, sharp electric guitar riffs and raging organ waves. It depicts a nightmare where the Grim Reaper and her companion Death-In-Life are casting dice... The winner will take the souls of the sailors!
“La collana dell’albatro (Danse Macabre)” (The necklace of the albatross) is another beautiful track featuring an eerie, hypnotic mood. All the other sailors are dead now and the mariner is alone. He still wears the dead albatross around his neck because of his crime but now he can see some dangerous water-snakes swimming in the sea around him and is charmed by the beauty of their colours. As he blesses them and begins to pray the albatross falls down from his neck as if the guilt was partially expiated... “The light splits the sky and sea / It’s high time to set off / It’s time to go on... A sun ray gives the crew a new life...”. Like magic the dead sailors come back to life and lead the ship near the coast before sinking forever into the water. The protagonist of the story survives...
The dreamy, ethereal “La ballata
vecchio marinaio” (The ballad of the ancient mariner) concludes the album and the story... “Judge this dream / Judge my act / What I committed is a crime / I relished my wishes... I bring my sentence as a sceptre...”. Now the listener has to guess the meaning of a nightmare on the borders of reality... del
On the whole a very good album! And you can legally download it for free...
You can read the poem (and an Italian translation) HERE
You can read an interview with the band HERE
Other opinions from Progarchives collaborators:
Jim Russell: The album is an enchanting mix of classic 70s prog spirit in an updated package. A concept album where you can feel the connection to the seafaring adventures, the story is told in large part instrumentally but there are occasional vocals and narration. The overall vibe is a mellow, often minimalist symphonic prog with a nod to the 70s RPI, and significant helpings of dreamy, low-key psych. Occasional tinges of hard rock, folk, and jazz come and go... This is an album which should please prog fans of many stripes and is a very promising debut. The music is very good. I'd be lying if I said a download was as satisfying to me as a physical CD release with nice artwork and packaging, but if you just want to hear some good music, check this out. Again, the band generously offer this for free so there is no reason not to have a listen and let them know what you think! (read the complete review HERE)
Torodd Fuglesteg: The songs are really varied in their expressions and this album is a pretty big mouthful. It is obvious that Una Volta Eravamo In Sette is a very talented band which I have already put high up on my "must follow" list... (read the complete review HERE)
Chris “Seventhsojourn”: “
La Ballata del Vecchio Marinaio” is a concept album based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's chilling poem about an ancient mariner condemned to wander the earth and tell his strange tale whenever the impulse seizes him. The vivid imagery of the poem seems to lend itself to musical treatment and has inspired works by Iron Maiden and David Bedford among others. I would urge those who are unfamiliar with the poem to read it, as doing so will hopefully increase the listener's appreciation of the music. As with any concept album, the question for me is how well the idea works with the music. Well let me tell you, these guys pull the concept off big-time and you don't even need to understand Italian to get the gist of things... (read the complete review HERE)