Friday, 2 November 2012

THE RAFT AND THE KILLER WHALES

In 2007 Conqueror released “74 giorni” (74 days), their third work, with a line-up featuring founder members Natale Russo (drums and percussions) and Simona Rigano (vocals, keyboards and synth) along with Sabrina Rigano (flute and saxophone), Tino Nastasi (guitars, bass) and Daniele Bambino (bass). It’s a concept album that was inspired by Ambrogio Fogar’s book “La zattera” (The raft) and describes a journey that turned bad... Ambrogio Fogar was a sailor, rally driver and all-round adventurer. In 1978, when he was sailing from Mar del Plata to Cape Horn along with his friend Mauro Mancini, his ship the “Surprise” was wrecked by a killer whale attack. Ambrogio Fogar and Mauro Mancini survived for seventy-four days on a life raft in the South Atlantic until they were rescued by a Greek cargo ship. Journalist Mauro Mancini died of pneumonia two days after the rescue...

Conqueror 2007

With this work the band seem to have attained a full maturity. The sources of Conqueror’s “musical inspiration“ range from PFM to Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, from Pink Floyd to the Alan Parsons Project, from Italian melodies to classical music... Nevertheless it would be extremely unfair to define them as a clone of any other band since their song-writing is personal and they show they are able to find an original way to express themselves. “74 giorni” is conceived as a musical and poetical journey, as the description of a quest for self-knowledge where you need to fight against adversity and never give up the struggle to reach your goals, to follow your ideals...

“Masks of men / Portrayed in catalogues / Conditioned by the symptoms of regularity...”. The lyrics of the opener “Maschere di uomini” (Masks of men) suggest that you can choose a model which is worth following, you can set off and look for something else, far from hypocrisy and from the models of life that the media tries to impose, even if your choice could lead to a dangerous journey... All you have to do is make up your mind and the journey can quietly begin. The mood of this track is dreamy and the voice of Simona Rigano soars light and melodic upon a piano arpeggio...


The instrumental “Il viaggio” (The journey) features a good guitar solo and leads to “Orca”, where the band try to describe the effect of the killer whale attack against the “hunters of emotions”... “Looking at time passing by / Hidden by the night / Forgetting just for a while / To be men in such an unknown world / Sons of a noble Earth without mercy...”: the need for knowledge and insight is “captured” by a whimsical destiny... On this track the melodic side of Conqueror still prevails but the sweet dream is going to turn sour...

The shipwreck can be also seen as a metaphor of every misfortune in everyday life. On “Limbo” the soaring voice of Simona Rigano is ethereal, as if suspended in a dream that is becoming a nightmare and asking for help...

Conqueror 2008

The impending tragedy is suggested by the change in mood and atmosphere on “Non maturi per l’aldilà” (Not ready to die). From this track on the music becomes quirky, with shifting rhythms suggesting the struggle for life in the middle of an Ocean of solitude and fear... “Non maturi per l’aldilà” along with the short instrumental “Cormorani”, “L’ora del parlare”, “Preghiera” and “Miraggi” form a kind of long, beautiful suite... “Nebbia ad occhi chiusi” is outstanding, one of the best moments of an excellent work!

The name of the sailor who first helped Ambrogio Fogar and his friend was Eleutherios and the name of the Greek cargo ship that rescued them was Master Stefanos... “Northern winds... Blow softly, talk with my words! / Keep on dancing on the icy mantle of the desert!”... "Eleutherios" and the instrumental "Master Stefanos" are both tracks thick with emotion, full of hope...

The final “Cambio di rotta” (Change of route) is a kind of requiem for a lost friend... “We sail on the sea pushed by the wish for knowledge, by the need for an unconditioned freedom... We sail on the sea because we have to and many times the sea wants to keep his sons...”. Well, on stage the band introduce the songs taken from this album by reading some passages of the book that inspired the concept and it’s a pity that you can’t find them in the booklet...


Conqueror: 74 giorni (2007). Other opinions:
Jim Russell: The arrangements are very good, each song moves along well with multiple sections of interest within. The downside of the album is that while each track has pretty moments, there is a certain politeness to this material that makes it just a little too easy going for me at times... (read the complete review HERE)

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