Sunday, 22 April 2012

THE FLIGHT OF THE GREY SWANS

Lorenzo Monni is a young Italian artist who lives in San Donà di Piave, a small town near Venice. He is a multi instrumentalist with a classical background and his aim is to blend classical influences with rock and electronic music. 

Lorenzo Monni

In 2007 he released his first self produced album, “Death Of Future Men”, where he proved to be a brilliant and original composer. It is a completely instrumental work and it should be of interest for fans of Franco Battiato, Goblin, King Crimson, Pink Floyd... The opener “Dust” is excellent. There’s a strong classical symphonic feeling and a particular exotic flavour on this track. In my opinion it gets along very well with the art cover and it could be a perfect soundtrack for a video based on Pierre Benoît’s beautiful novel L’Atlantide. Dust, sand, water, a forgotten oasis in the Sahara, mysterious and dangerous women, adventure, the myth of the lost continent Atlantis that comes true and appears like a mirage where love, dreams and nightmares are mixed up together...


The next tracks “Visions”, “Last Touch” and “Humans Against Alien-Cats” every now and again recall slightly of some works by Pink Floyd or Alan Parsons Project, but there’s no plagiarism at all and all you have to do is close your eyes, let the music stir your emotions and set your imagination free. Then comes “Anatomy Of Water Phobia” that could recall the atmosphere of some Dario Argento’s films featuring Goblin soundtracks and that is my favourite track on this album along with the opener. The following track, “Viale Notturno”, has a dark and crepuscular feeling, while the last piece, “The Lost begins with a classical guitar intro leading to another musical journey in exotic territories... A very nice finale for a very interesting work!

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Lorenzo Monni’s sophomore album, “Debris”, was released in 2008 and it’s another interesting blend of rock, electronic and classical music. Perhaps it could be a bit difficult to appreciate this work on the very first listening but if you like the complex “soundscapes” of Robert Fripp, the unconventional and challenging ethno-folk of bands such as Oregon or the scary atmospheres of bands as Goblin I’m sure you’ll find it pretty good. The album is completely instrumental and the sound quality is good, even if it’s another self-produced work. There are less melodic and symphonic passages than on Lorenzo Monni’s previous album, but don’t worry, the result is not pure avant-garde or “musique concrète” and you’ll find here some very good musical ideas...


In my opinion the highlights are the mysterious and exotic “I Met The Craftsman”, the hypnotic “The Dawn Of The Young Dolls” (almost baroque with an Eastern flavour), the acoustic, delicate and dreamy “Naked Dialogues”, the solemn and mystic “Mont Saint-Michel (featuring church like organ and a sampled monks choir) and the long, haunting “Gone”. Nonetheless the other tracks are also worth listen to and I appreciated also the bizarre “Ciel Brouille” (featuring in the background the sampled voice of the Italian singer song-writer Giorgio Gaber), the opener “Embrace” or the dark, creepy “Shapeless”. You can listen in streaming to the complete album, so have a try, click HERE!

Lorenzo Monni: Debris (2008). Other opinions
Jim Russell: The tracks are richly developed pieces covering a variety of moods, almost always with luxurious melodies and only occasionally dissonant... While the album takes a while to fully absorb it’s clear he has a talent for making it accessible to people who may not be huge fans of impressionistic music. Monni is a gifted sound architect with a promising future... (read the complete review HERE).

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In 2010 Lorenzo Monni released his third album, “Grey Swans Of Extremistan”, on the independent label Lizard Records. It was recorded with the help of Luca Visentin (drums, production, mixing, mastering) and Luca Ricci (drums) and, according to the liner notes, it’s a kind of concept album inspired by The Black Swan, a book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a Lebanese American essayist whose work focuses on issues such as randomness and probability. The overall sound is guitar driven and recalls post-rock or math rock atmospheres without being derivative. This time Lorenzo Monni avoided “the cascades of synths” that you can find on his previous work but the final result is quite good anyway.


The album is completely instrumental and is divided in two acts. The first act is titled “The Landscape of Extremistan” and features three tracks linked together. The suggestive opener “Cascade” begins softly and sets a mysterious atmosphere with Middle-Eastern flavours, then a steady marching beat starts pulsing... “Contrary Winds” and “Doggered Of The Deep” follow mixing experimental passages and interesting melodic lines with interesting results.

The second act is titled “Grey Swans” and features six tracks. It begins with the dynamic, cheerful “The Mysterious Cyclist Of Cyclette”, then comes the dreamy, ethereal “Amarcord” followed by “The Act Of Being Amazed” where you can find some nice, particular Latin American touches. The short “Mosquitos Will Defeat F.B.I” and the experimental “Zeitgeber” (where Lorenzo Monni “plays” also an hairdryer) in my opinion are not completely convincing but the conclusive “Once Upon A Time In Extremistan” is an excellent track full of energy. On the whole a good album but probably the nice art work by Bridget Farmer describes this album better than my words... Judge by yourselves, you can listen to complete album in streaming. Click HERE


Lorenzo Monni: Grey Swans of Extremistan (2010). Other opinions
Olav Martin Bjørnsen: Lorenzo Monni’s third full-length production “Grey Swans of Extremistan” is a hard to define, instrumental art rock album of good quality and with quite a few inventive and creative twists to it. World music, post-rock and jazz fusion appear to form the outer boundaries in terms of stylistic expression; classical music and psychedelic rock might be appended to such a description as well... (read the complete review HERE).
Jim Russell: This is another impressive step for Monni as he continues what promises to be a very eclectic career. For my tastes though I much preferred the previous album (see my Debris review) which just had more variations and a bit more whimsy. I would like to see Monni work with a great Italian language vocalist in the future, perhaps do something in the avant-classical vein like Opus Avantra, given his classical background. But wherever he goes next I'll be dying to check it out... (read the complete review HERE).

You can find an interview with Lorenzo Monni on Progarchives. Click HERE


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