Friday, 23 December 2011

TIES AND LIFTS

Mogador began life in 2007 on the Lake Como on the initiative of Richard George Allen (drums, vocals). The first line up was completed by Luca Briccola (piano, keyboards, guitar, flute), Stefano Lago (guitars) and Paolo Pigni (bass, acoustic guitar, vocals). The musicians started to rehearse in a tie factory and named their band Mogador, as the ancient name of the Moroccan port of Essaouira that gave its name to a tie cloth that is a mix of silk and cotton. According to their website the same idea of mixing is reflected in the influences on Mogador’s style since the individual members of the band enjoy all kinds of music from progressive rock to folk, from fusion to classical.




In 2009 they released a first interesting self produced eponymous album, a kind of conceptual work inspired by the four elements that was recorded in a non professional home-studio. The lyrics are in English and the overall sound of the album recalls the early Genesis... Well, despite the poor recording means the result is not bad at all.

There is a short opener that sets the atmosphere and introduces the subject matter with narrative vocals, “Ab imis fundamenti”. It leads to “The Salamander”, a track inspired by fire, the fire of passion... “There’s a fire that I burn / When I desire, when I yearn...”. The second track, “The Tide’s Undertow” was inspired by water and deals with some environmental issues, exalting water for the dangerous strength of its rage and its priceless value for life... “We all can feel water’s primal force / And one day she’ll call us all back out sea / We all exist in the dread and the fear / That one day we’ll live the tide’s undertow...”. Then comes “Tell Me Smiling Child”, one of the two tracks with no relation with the elements of the concept. It’s a short piece for piano and voice featuring lyrics taken from a poem by Emily Brontë...


“Mammon’s Greed” was inspired by earth and takes us back to the concept and its pastoral mood... “Take courage dear friends and we’ll find the way / Hope never ends to see that perfect day / When Earth and Man live as one...”. Next comes the other track non related to the elements, the short acoustic guitar driven “Solitary Bench – An Alchemy”, my favourite on this work... “There is a place that nobody knows / Where I sit alone on a solitary bench... Like a grain of sand changes into a pearl / I change too... Like an alchemist I turn my lead into gold...”. “Floating In The Void”, the piece inspired by air, and the instrumental symphonic outro “Omnia mutantur, nihil interit” conclude the album. By the way, the beautiful art cover reproduces a painting by Johan Christian Dahl titled “Vesuvius Erupting” where you can see all the elements. In my opinion this tableau depicts in some way the content of the music as well...



You can listen to the complete album HERE

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Soon after the release of Mogador’s first album, Stefano Lago left the band while the other members started to work on another conceptual work. According to the band, Richard read the story of a man who got trapped in a lift in a newspaper and it struck him as a viable vehicle for a narrative album, the other two agreed and set about writing the music. The result is another self produced work, “All I Am Is Of My Own MaKing”, featuring an improved recording quality and an overall sound that could recall bands such as The Flower Kings and Spock’s Beard.

The opener “Unexpectedly, Friday” sets the atmosphere. It is just like any other Friday evening, the weekend beckons and the protagonist of the story is ready to enjoy its delights. But he forgets his keys in the office and has to go back... “I should have taken the stairs but I saw that open door / As I rose the lift shut down, a sudden halt / Unexpected dark and silence / Unwelcome dark and suspense / Took me by surprise...”. The man shouts, asks for help...

“Deep In Trouble Deep” is darker and more aggressive. While Richard George Allen interprets the protagonist of the story Paolo Pigni interprets the narrator and in this piece he takes the lead... “He was the last one out of the door / Trapped in a lift, it was trouble for sure... Hitting wildly in all his rage / To try to break free from this steel cage... So you thought life was so good? / And you said I want everything now / But look now, my young friend, where are you? / Deep in trouble deep...”.


“Panic!” is a beautiful instrumental track featuring many changes in rhythm and mood that describes the feelings of the protagonist when he realises there’s no one to help him...

The next track, “So Cold”, is calmer and begins with an acoustic guitar pattern. The voice of the protagonist comes back... “Panic gave way to reason / As I slid on the floor / At times like these I thought intelligence would pay / But thinking very calmly made it all seem worse... It’s cold, I’m cold / Help me someone...”.

“One Day” begins with a piano solo pattern and marks the lowest ebb of the story for the protagonist. On the first part we can listen to the voice of the narrator. The protagonist finds a gentle peace while his hope slips away and fear gives way to peace. The second part of the track features a church-like atmosphere and great harmony vocals... “We know that one day / We will all fall to sleep... If we have lived in full virtuous and true / Who knows, death may be a blessed relief...”.

Mogador 2010

“Sweet Liberty” is lighter and begins with a delicate acoustic guitar arpeggio, then the rhythm section and the keyboards come in. The protagonist is saved by a rescue team, at first he thinks that the voices of his saviours are nothing but a dream then he can see the light again... “In a moment I was free... In a moment I could see... Finally unbound, all the world was there for me / Thanking endlessly / Oh sweet, sweet liberty...”. Tubular bells announce the end of the dark.

“Homely Smells Again” tells what happens later the same day... “They provided a car to take him home... He turned the key of the door... / He headed for the bed, to rest his head / Finally homely smells again...”. But this is not the end of the story and this is a complex track. The protagonist is woken by the sound of the telephone. A lawyer calls him and insists that he needs assistance... “We met later that week / There were damages to seek / A six or seven figure sum for a life undone...”. The protagonist returns to work two weeks later but when he places the damage claim on his boss’s desk he’s fired... “I was called in by the boss again / And told to return at home / This time I took the stairs...”.

“A New Beginning” is a reflective track that marks the end of the story and the definitive change in the attitude of the protagonist. The protagonist suits his former employer in court under the media’s attention but he loses the case and can’t find another job... “Now I’m living in a different place / Right and wrong are in their place / I take each day as a new beginning / The rising sun brightens the way / Ends the darkness, leads the way...”.


“All I Am Is Of My Own MaKing” begins with a marry piano pattern and draws the moral of the story: never surrender! The music could recall the Beatles and the sax played by the guest Marco “Plumber” Bonetti enriches the sound of this piece... “There are times when you feel sad and very lonely / And the world looks grey and grim / Don’t surrender, face the fight...”. Voices and sounds coming from the country conclude this work as a ghost track.
Well, all in all I think this is an interesting story and a very good work. You can listen to the coplete album HERE

Read the interview with the band on Progarchives. Click HERE


Mogador: All I Am Is Of My Own MaKing (2010). Other opinions:
Brian Block: Mogador, first off, is a fantastic band that is capable of playing many styles within both the prog and rock spectrum... Another good thing about this album is the variety of instruments played here. Not only are there guitars and a bass, but there's also very nice orchestration and the addition of a flute on some songs... Overall I really enjoyed this album, and I'm sure many other prog fans will too. Featuring great musicianship from everyone involved this album was great to listen too and had many memorable riffs and choruses... (read the complete review on  seaoftranquillity.org. Click HERE).
Gert Hulshof: Right from the start I was amazed by the sheer beauty of the album... There is no doubt in my mind that Mogador is a great band, with great musicians. I will keep my eye on them. Refreshing... (read the complete review HERE)

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