Tuesday, 1 January 2013


Quanah Parker began life in Venice in 1981, going against the tide in a period when progressive rock was completely out of fashion. They split up in 1985 but, after a long hiatus, in 2005 they came to life again on the initiative of keyboardist and composer Riccardo Scivales. In 2012 Quanah Parker finally released a debut album titled “Quanah!”, on the independent label Diplodisc, with a line up featuring Riccardo Scivales (keybords), Elisabetta “Betty” Montino (vocals), Giovanni Pirrotta (electric guitar), Giuseppe Di Stefano (bass) and Paolo “Ongars” Ongaro (drums). Over the years all the musicians have honed their skills and the result of the recording sessions is a well balanced mix of classical influences, progressive rock and jazz. Some pieces date back to eighties while others are more recent but you can't find any discontinuity in the style of the band, the overall sound is excellent and everything works. Well, if you like artists such as Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Santana or Kate Bush, give this album a try!

The short, dreamy opener “Chant Of The Sea-Horse” is a charming piece for piano and vocals full of mystery and magic. There are no lyrics and the beautiful voice of Betty Montino here is used as an instrument with amazing results. The following “No Time For Fears” begins softly, again piano and vocals take the lead but then all the members of the band give their contribute and the rhythm rises. The music and lyrics invite you to grow up inside, overcoming your fears. There are many people who are prisoners of the daily grind, they're sad and lost at the end of the day, almost incapable to heed their heart and to develop their inner strength... “Switch the light off / Smile in the dark / And realize you’re alive...”.

“Quanah Parker” begins with a burst of energy and some passages could recall “Garofano Rosso” by Il Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, then the music takes an autonomous direction with many changes in rhythm and mood. Quanah Parker was a Comanche chief, the band was named after him and this piece is a kind of trademark. The music tries to evoke a rebellious spirit and a timeless need for freedom while the lyrics draw a prayer to the wind. Eventually the wind seems to answer... “The voice of wind is crying for a change! / Where is my axe?”. The conclusive electric guitar solo expresses the rising rage of an untamed soul. 

“Sailor Song” begins with a nervous rhythm while the lyrics depict the image of a sailor who sets off on a journey across the sea heading East, looking for the rising sun. Soon you realize that the journey is a metaphor for an inner quest, a search for a man's identity leading outside the borders of reality... “Strange reflexes in the dark, charming echoes in the air / Have drawn my ship in an island out of time...”.

“Flight” is an outstanding instrumental track featuring vibrant, pulsating bass lines and even a good bass solo. As the rhythm takes off you can fly across a starry sky following dreams and notes. Then comes “The Garden Awakes” where you can land in an enchanted place and walk barefoot among flowers and leaves, breathing the fresh air of springtime. Behind the gate of this magic garden you can regenerate your soul and forget your dark memories. When you'll leave the garden you will keep the new sounds and colours you have experienced in your heart... “Something strange is happening to me / I can feel a new breath of life... There’s a new human being inside me...”.

“After The Rain” is another track full of optimism. It begins softly, you can hear the sounds of a storm in the background but the storm is soon over. The atmosphere is dreamy, the music is delicate and the voice of Betty Montino soars clear in the air while the dark clouds melt... “Everything seems so perfect and pure... Sun soon will shine and with it my heart...”.

“Asleep” evokes a dream of perfect harmony, a home on a cloud and singing birds all around. Waking up could be very hard in a case like this but you can always close your eyes again and try to go back to your dreams, feeling as if you were floating between the sea and the sky. Here in some passages the music veers to a Latin rock à la Santana as in the following “Silly Fairy Tales” which is in the same dreamy mood and depicts three merry elves and a snoring man dreaming of fairy tales... “Sparklin’ drops captured my attention / So I could see...”.

“People In Sorrow” is a bitter-sweet piano ballad featuring heartfelt vocals and lyrics about solitary boys and girls unaware that there are so many ways to forget the gloom around them. Here and in the following “The Limits Of The Sky” the voice of Betty Montino recalls Kate Bush and takes off running after wuthering heights... “Under the sun, over the hills, running away with you / Watching your eyes, hearing the notes, no strain inside our hearts... If only I could, I’d fly with you to the limits of the sky above / If only I could, I’d colour this song with the colours of the sky!”.

The final track “Shenn Menn” reminds me of some works of Santana and is taken from an original recording from 1984 with a line up featuring Riccardo Scivales (keyboards), Roberto Noè (guitar, vocals), Stefano Corvia (guitar), Roberto Veronese (bass) and Giuliano Bianco (drums). It is credited as a bonus track and is a proof of the good level of the band in their early days.

All in all, I think that this is an excellent album although it's a pity that the band did not exploit their native language for the lyrics giving to the amazing voice of Betty Montino more chances to go off the beaten tracks looking for a wider range of colours and sounds.

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