Sunday, 29 April 2012

AN INTERESTING METAMORPHOSIS

What happened to Le Orme? At the end of 2009 one of founder members, the bassist and vocalist Aldo Tagliapietra left the band. In 2010 the old keyboardist, Tony Pagliuca, released an album featuring old pieces from the band’s repertoire rearranged for piano solo, the excellent Après Midi - Ormeggiando. Then, he teamed up again with Aldo and with another former member of the band, Tolo Marton, for some live exhibitions and new projects while the other members, Michi Dei Rossi and Michele Bon decided to go on under the name Le Orme looking for new blood to complete the line-up. In short, from the band’s family tree sprouted some new branches and I think it’s pointless looking for the “true and authentic” Le Orme now. People grow up and change during their life, the members of a band can leave and come back but what really matters is the music and its capability to stir emotions. Is it good or bad? Did the musicians lose their inspiration? Are they playing just by rote now? Did the soul of the band vanish into the dark?


In April 2011 we got a first answer when Le Orme’s branch featuring historic drummer Michi Dei Rossi, after a live recording in 2010, the official bootleg Progfiles, released a new work with original pieces, La via della seta. Along with Michi Dei Rossi (drums, tubular bells, Glockenspiel, cymbals, Bhayan) there’s still Michele Bon (Hammond C3, piano, synth, keyboards, back vocals), who has been a member of the band for more than twenty years. The new line-up features also Fabio Trentini (bass, bass pedals, acoustic guitars, dulcimer, electric sitar, back vocals), the veteran Jimmy Spitaleri (vocalist of the historic Roman band Metamorfosi) and two young, skilled musicians such as William Dotto (electric guitar) and Federico Gava (piano, synth, keyboards). Well, I had the chance to attend one of their concerts and I have to say that this “metamorphosis” of Le Orme is very good...

Fabio Trentini - Michele Bon - Michi Dei Rossi - Davide "Jimmy" Spitaleri
 
The new album “La via della Seta” is conceived as a long suite. All the tracks are linked together and the music flows without interruptions drawing an imaginary journey along the Silk Road where you can meet the ghosts of merchants, pilgrims, missionaries, soldiers, nomads and cruel Barbarians exploring mysterious cities and civilizations. To be honest the lyrics written by Maurizio Monti are not completely convincing, stylistically they draw on old melodramma canons and are a little naives but the music recalls the best moments of the band. There is more room for guitars and the interaction between piano and keyboards is excellent while the powerful, brilliant rhythm section adds beautiful touches of colour. 

The opener “L’alba di Eurasia” (The dawn of Eurasia) sets the atmosphere. It’s a short instrumental introduction where you can hear the destiny knocking on your door and an amazing guitar work. It leads to another beautiful instrumental track, “Il romanzo di Alessandro” (The story of Alexander), inspired by the life of Alexander the Great, well portrayed in Valerio Massimo Manfredi’s novels as Child of a Dream, Sands of Ammon and Ends of the Earth...


Next comes “Verso Sud” (Heading South). It’s about the need to look for new ways to escape the violence of barbarians in love with war and features a delicate piano pattern and soaring melodic vocals... “We’ll need one day a new road...”. The dreamy instrumental “Mondi che si cercano” (Worlds that are looking one after each other) tries to evoke a new road leading to new dreams and a better future, then follows a short reprise of the previous track “Verso Sud (Ripresa)”. “Now a man makes up his mind / He comes to understand / Then a woman awakes and proudly comes forward...”.

The next track “Una donna” (A woman) was inspired by the work of the archaeologist Jeannine Davis-Kimball... The warrior women known to ancient Greek authors as Amazons were long thought to be creatures of myth. Now 50 ancient burial mounds near the town of Pokrovka, Russia, near the Kazakhstan border, have yielded skeletons of women buried with weapons, suggesting the Greek tales may have had some basis in fact. Nomads known as the Sauromatians buried their dead here beginning ca. 600 B.C.; according to Herodotus the Sauromatians were descendants of the Amazons and the Scythians, who lived north of the Sea of Azov [1]. The lyrics evoke a strange meeting between a warrior woman coming out from her grave and a traveling man... “I see a woman who is waiting for me / She comes out from her space to sing...”. Who is the mysterious man? Maybe Marco Polo, to whom is dedicated the following track, the short instrumental “29457, l’asteroide di Marco Polo” (29457, the asteroid of Marco Polo). The title refers to an asteroid that was discovered in 1997 by Italian astronomer Vittorio Goretti who gave it the name of the Venetian adventurer.


Next comes “Serinde”, a beautiful instrumental track that starts softly introducing exotic atmospheres, then the rhythm rises and you can dream of routes leading towards the far East... By the way, the term Serindia combines Seres (China) and India to refer to the part of Asia also known as Sinkiang, Chinese Turkestan or High Asia... It leads to “Incontro dei popoli” (Meeting of people), an intense and melodic ballad featuring heartfelt vocals and acoustic guitar... “I ask for a meeting / People joining together / A new dream for this world will maybe begin...New stories of peace / New communities / Another universe...”. This track is closely linked to the following “La prima melodia” (The first melody), where the lyrics tell about a melody which can brighten the routes of the travelers inviting people of every age to join and celebrate their friendship and their land... “Once upon a time there was a sound passing by / Along our old route...”.

The instrumental “Xi’an – Venezia – Roma” is another excellent track where the musicians try to blend classical influences and exotic flavours. It leads to the conclusive title track, where Jimmy Spitaleri’s powerful, operatic vocals soar drawing beautiful melodic lines (every now and again this track reminds me of Andrea Bocelli’s Con te partirò). A bright, joyful marching beat leads to the “finale” of an album that is really worth listening to... “On the Silk Road / We can live again that past... I feel a new strong energy that will push me forward...”.



Well, in my opinion this is a very good starting point for the band after the metamorphosis...

Le Orme: La via della seta (2011). Other opinions:
Paul Fowler: It has to be said I’m more pleased with this album than I could have ever hoped to be, the song writing is top notch, the instrumental sections beautifully played and generally captivating. On top of that the rich production is the icing on the cake. Whilst not as great as their classic seventies output and let’s face it, what band from that era can match those golden years today, La Via Della Seta is an album every Le Orme fan will want in their collection... (read the complete review HERE).
Henri Strik: The music that comes along with this concept recalls the best moments of Le Orme. There’s even more room for the guitars and the interaction between the piano and the keyboards is excellent while the powerful, brilliant rhythm section adds so much more to the compositions. These compositions are never dull or boring... (read the complete review HERE).


More info:
[1] Quote from J. DAVIS-KIMBALL, Warrior Women of Eurasia, on the site www.archaeology.org