Monday, 19 November 2012

IN A DARK ROOM

Areknamés is an interesting band from Pescara (Italy) that was born in 2001 from the ashes of other two bands, Lentofumo and L'arco del Pendolo. The name of the band comes from the title of a Franco Battiato’s song from the album “Pollution” but their main sources of inspiration are not only Italian. Areknamés' eponymous debut album was released in 2003 on the independent label Black Widow Records with a line up featuring multi instrumentalist and composer Michele Epifani (organ, piano, synth, mellotron, harpsichord, guitars, recorder, vocals), Piero Ranalli (bass) and Mino Vitelli (drums, percussion). On it you can perceive all their love for bands such as Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, Black Widow, Atomic Rooster, Caravan, Balletto di Bronzo, Metamorfosi and many others. The overall sound of the band is compact and with a vintage feeling but, although Areknamés draw abundantly on Seventies classic prog-rock, their music is not completely derivative and you can find here some really good tracks featuring shifting tempos and quirky melodies.


The long opener “A Day Among Four Walls” describes a day that seems a nightmare... “I can't understand, why am I awake? I was on the sun flying with a unicorn... I was happy...”. A man who does not want to wake up, a junky scared by reality... Despair, emptiness, feelings riding on a storm, four walls that protect you from the real world but separate you from the sky. The vocal parts recall Peter Hammill while soaring from some fiery organ passages or hiding in whispers under delicate organ patterns. The following “Wasted Time” is another dark, melancholic track full of pessimism and sad reflections about time passing by. “Down” describes a surreal Sabbath, a meeting with a witch, a descent into an inner darkness... “This is the prayer that rips both my ears / While I'm feeling that soon Satan will be here / Ring the bells for his entrance / Happiness has no more meaning...”.


The crepuscular “Season Of Death” is in the same vein, dark like a black mass in the full moon. It begins softly but calm is only apparent, loneliness drives to madness and to a dangerous land of tears where the grass is cold and the autumn leaves fall on your mind. On the church like organ middle section threatening shadows begin to dance. “Boredom” is nervous, tense and features an exotic flavour with recorders, keyboards and the electric guitar of the guest Simone Colombi in the forefront. There's someone who's swimming ashore, there are some abandoned shoes on the beach and a strong feeling of uneasiness. The charming “Grain Of Sand Lost In The Sea” concludes the album. You can feel regret for betraying the world by ignoring the people who love you... “Now it's the time to look at yourself... Now it's the time to save yourself...”. Well, the mood is rather sad but, despite the particular subject matter of the lyrics, I think that this album deserves a try!


Areknamés: Areknamés (2003). Other opinions:
Vitaly Menshikov: Areknamés is a striking example of the band, which, while being influenced by VDGG, is able not to only to avoid any distinct derivatives, but also to develop the familiar style in a new and, often, very unexpected direction. The connoisseurs of profound Symphonic Progressive, not to mention the lovers of a classic VDGG, shouldn't disregard this release, to say the least... (read the complete review HERE).


The second album by Areknamés, “Love Hate Round Trip”, was released in 2006 with a renewed line up featuring Michele Epifani (organ, piano, synth, mellotron, vocals, recorder), Piero Ranalli (bass), Simone Colombi (guitars) and Simone Antonini (drums). Here the band go further exploring the possibilities of mixing vintage sounds with new ideas. Although you can find some echoes coming from the past, Areknamés are not just a clone of someone else playing by tore and trying to stir nostalgic feelings in their listeners, on the contrary, the song-writing of the leader Michele Epifani is excellent and on this album they seem to have found their own way.

Areknamés 2007

The opener “The Skeletal Landscape Of The World” is a complex, dark thread of images “painted” by the voice of Epifani that recalls Genesis and VDGG. It features aggressive guitar riffs in Black Sabbath style well intertwined with quieter piano and keyboards passages. The second track, “Deceit”, in my opinion is outstanding... “Come to me, I’m ready...”. In the beginning the vocals are enthralling and delicate, soaring upon an ethereal keyboards and acoustic guitar pattern, but all along the more than ten minutes length of this piece there’s room for many surprises and changes in the musical direction.


The music keeps on flowing without weak moments, actually all the tracks are very good, like the sinister and agoraphobic “Outcast”, “La Chambre” (inspired by a Balthus’ painting), “Snails” (a Gnidrolog’s cover), “Yet I Must Be Something”, “Ignis Fatuus”, “Stray Thoughts From A Crossroad”, "A Grotesque Gift", "Someone Lies Here". Actually, there’s no filler till the final “The Web Of Years”. All the compositions, although complex, are perfectly balanced showing great song-writing skills that combine dark symphonic prog with jazz, psychedelia and classical influences.


Probably Areknmées during the session of this album were dreaming to be in the Seventies, but without losing the awareness of the present. Their music is about dreams and nightmares, they’re like painters using notes instead of brushes to draw musical landscapes and images. At length they managed to escape from their “rusty cage of fears” and from the scepticism that surrounded their debut... “There's no more sign of something that makes dreams different from reality / It wasn't me that chose it...” (from “La Chambre”).

Areknamés: Love Hate Round Trip (2006). Other opinions:
Jim Russell: It is a beautiful and moody mélange of vintage keyboard sounds (organ, synth, grand piano, mellotron) stacked with angular guitar brushstrokes, and occasionally poetic lyrics. While not an easy piece of music to digest early on there are rewards here for those who give it some time. I am not with those who find "love hate" to be the best modern Italy has to offer but it is a fascinating album for fans of "night" prog and fans of VDGG style bands... (read the complete review HERE).

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