Paolo Siani was the drummer of Nuova Idea, a band from Genoa that released three interesting albums in the early seventies. Nuova Idea disbanded in 1973 and since then Palo Siani has worked as a session man and producer for other artists. In 2008 he started to work on a solo album in a progressive rock style trying to blend vintage sounds and modern technologies. Three other former members of Nuova Idea (Marco Zoccheddu, Ricky Belloni and Giorgio Usai) got involved in the project but during the recording session Paolo Siani was also helped by many other friends such as Mauro Pagani, Roberto Tiranti or Joe Vescovi just to name a few. The result is the excellent “Castles, Wings, Stories & Dreams” that was released in 2010 on the independent label Black Widow Records with a beautiful art cover by the British artist Martin Allen.
The short opener “Un dono” (A gift) features narrative vocals and sound effects in the background. The lyrics, in Italian, are taken from a short poem by Mahatma Ghandi... “Take a smile, and give it to someone who never had it / Take a sunbeam, and make it fly there where the night reigns / Discover a wellspring, and make wash those who live in the mud / Take a tear, and put it on the face of someone who never cried / Take the courage and put it in the heart of the ones who don’t know how to fight / Discover life, and tell about it to someone who doesn’t understand it / Take hope, and live in its light / Take goodness and give it to the one who is not able to give / Discover love, and make it known to the world...”.
|Martin Allen: The King Is Dead|
The short, evocative instrumental “Wizard Intro” leads to the dark, heartfelt “Madre Africa” (Mother Africa) that starts with heavy blues electric guitar riffs in the forefront backed by a powerful rhythm section. As you can guess it's a piece dedicated to Africa, a wonderful, rich continent exploited by merciless, fat merchants where endless tribal wars keep on raging... “Mother Africa, ferocious with women and children / Bribed by filthy assassins / Uproar of dances and drums / Belly of the darkest rituals...”. Roberto Tiranti's lead vocals backed by the soprano Nadia Enghèben and the excellent flute work provided by Mauro Pagani give an exotic, mysterious touch to this piece that ends with an invocation: Mother Africa, you have to protect your children, the most precious treasure of all... “Smiles, perfumes and colours / Defend these immense treasures, Mother Africa”!
“Questa penombra è lenta” (This penumbra is slow) is a calm, reflective track. The evening comes and it's time to think about the past, about the real meaning of a man's life... “Look for a lighthouse, a port, a safe harbour / Follow the light flight of the seagulls... Looking for a man I found God...”. Next comes the lively instrumental “Chimera” featuring an excellent bass work, a good sax solo and some nice electronic effects. Here guitarist Marco Zuccheddu turns out to be an excellent pianist as well!
“The Game” is a long, complex suite divided into four sections: “Wizard Of Your Sky”, “Mickey's”, “Jump” and “Wizard Of Your Life”. It begins softly, the atmosphere is dreamy... “Listen to this music... Strong wind and smell of tide fill the sails... Let's go away, let's fly away...”. Despite the English titles most of the lyrics are in Italian and conjure up a magic world where white horses ride in immense plains and distant comets cross the sky disappearing on the horizon, there are elves and damsels, a fakir and a roundabout... As the music flows away you can listen to a reprise of “Wizard Intro” and to many changes in rhythm and mood... A new life runs into your veins, eventually your heart is full of sounds, colours and lights and you can experience a feeling of peace... “Now listen to your music, go back on your road... Remember me...”.
“Cluster Bombs” is sung in English by Roberto Tiranti and begins with a martial pace. It's a heartfelt complaint against war and the use of cluster bombs... “How many limbs of children / You will need some more / How long, filthy beasts / You will drink young blood...”. Next comes the delicate “This Open Show”. It's another track sung in English and features Alberto Buttarelli on lead vocals and flute. The atmosphere is dreamy, you can float in the air cradled by the magic of music and sounds... “Castles and wings / Stories and dreams / We'll never hold you / So I really hope / You'll like remember / This, this open show...”. The short instrumental “C'era una volta” (Once upon a time) with its fairy tales flavour and Renaissance influences concludes this excellent work. By the way, all the revenues of this album (if there will be any) will go to the Gaslini Children's Hospital in Genoa. One more reason to buy it!
Paolo Siani & Friends feat. Nuova Idea: Castles, Wings, Stories & Dreams (2010). Other opinions:
Raffaella Benvenuto-Berry: As can be expected, “Castles, Wings, Stories and Dreams” is not particularly innovative, nor does it pretend to be such... I also have some reservations on the choice of mixing Italian and English lyrics. The supposed ‘international appeal’ of English vocals, in my opinion, dilutes that unique quality of Italian prog that is so often connected with the use of such a great vehicle for music as the Italian language. However, in spite of these drawbacks, the album is a solid effort, a fine slice of vintage Italian prog with a thoroughly 21st-century sound quality, and excellent performances all round from Siani and his guest musicians. The album should also appeal to fans of classic hard rock with progressive overtones... (read the complete review HERE)
Jim Russell: "Castles" is a dynamic mix of RPI with a "heavy prog" edge that is sure to please a wide swath of the PA community. It follows the trend of recent returns by RPI veterans in delivering high quality material in the more accessible package that today's prog fan seems interested in. Italy's comeback albums are better than most as the musicians always seem to be into it for the right reasons and that is again the case here-the work exudes a passion for music with an uncompromising respect for the past, held above commercial considerations... (read the complete review HERE)
Assaf Vestin: The production of the album is clear and crisp; one can make out well the instruments and the smaller details in each song. This album was a surprise for me. Boasting a heavy sound with beautiful Hammond organ work and vocals, it contains elements from classic rock bands but also introduces variety into each song. The pieces have great hooks and are quite catchy. As soon as the album ended I wanted to listen to it again. I hope Paolo Siani doesn't stop here and produces another album of this caliber... (read the complete review HERE)