“I am a singer of songs that I learned in the far city, and my calling is to make beauty with the things remembered of childhood. My wealth is in little memories and dreams, and in hopes that I sing in gardens when the moon is tender and the west wind stirs the lotos-buds...” (H.P. Lovecraft, from The Quest Of Iranon). Well, I think that this quote could describe in some way the spirit and the mood of Goad's new album, “Masquerade”. Maurilio Rossi and his band have been around for many years although they have never emerged from the underground scene. Luckily they never gave up the musical dreams of their youth and in my opinion “Masquerade” is their best work so far. It was recorded between 2007 and 2011 with a line up featuring Maurilio Rossi (organ, keyboards, bass, guitars), Francesco Diddi (violin, flute, sax, guitar), Gianni Rossi (guitar, backing vocals), Vick Usai (drums), Tommaso Baggiani (drums), Luis Magnanimo (bass), and Antonio Vannucci (piano, keyboards) but during the recording sessions they were helped by many guest musicians. The album was finally released in 2011 on the independent label Black Widow Records and I think that the result is excellent. You can find here all the passion of the band for vintage sounds and the literary works of artists such as Edgar Allan Poe or Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Among Goad's sources of inspiration there are bands such as Van der Graaf Generator, Genesis or King Crimson, of course, but the song-writing of this Florentine band is good and rich in ideas.
The opener “Fever Called Living” features heavy electric guitar riffs, touches of flute and dark organ rides. It describes a desperate escape from reality where the grave becomes a shelter, a peaceful bed where you can rest and dream for the eternity... “Thanks Heaven! The crises, the danger is past... And the fever called living is conquered at last...”. The following “Eldorado” is a hard rock track in two parts that could recall Deep Purple. The lyrics are taken from a poem by E.A. Poe describing a gallant knight and his pointless quest for the land of gold... “But he grew old / This knight so bold / And o'er his heart a shadow / Fell as he found / No spot of ground / That looked like Eldorado...”.
“The Last Knowledge” is another track divided into two parts. It is calmer, melancholic and evokes overwhelming memories, the dark shadow of a missing lover and the killing strength of her absence. Next comes the reflective “The Judge” which describes in music and words a strange meeting with a talking painting crying blood. It's the painting of an old judge who during his life condemned many people to death and now is haunted by their ghosts for the eternity... “I spent all my life sitting on that chair / Trying to understand, trying to be fair / Many and many lives I had in my hand / I was a judge, I was like God / They gave the power to punish with my rod...”.
The next three tracks are also taken from E.A. Poe's poems. “The Valley Of Unrest” features an ethereal, sad atmosphere evoking perennial tears which descend in gems from a cloudy sky, “To Helen” features a strong classical inspiration and is an unconventional ode to beauty while the delicate, introspective “Alone” expresses isolation and inner torment. Then comes “Masquerade (Fast & Short)”, just an appetizer for the long conclusive suite.
The nice classical inspired instrumental “Intro (Classic Guitar Prelude)” leads to the mysterious, mystic “Slave Of The Holy Mountain” which describes an unsuccessful, metaphorical climbing to Heaven. The following “Dreamland” is another good track inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's powerful poetry and precedes a beautiful, dark instrumental titled “The Haunted Palace”.
The last track, “Masquerade (With Dance Macabre)”, is a long, complex suite divided into five parts. It describes a strange dream and reminds me of the atmosphere of a H.P. Lovecraft's story... “There in the moonlight that flooded the spacious plain was a spectacle which no mortal, having seen it, could ever forget. To the sound of reedy pipes that echoed over the bog there glided silently and eerily a mixed throng of swaying figures, reeling through such a revel as the Sicilians may have danced to Demeter in the old days under the harvest moon beside the Cyane. The wide plain, the golden moonlight, the shadowy moving forms, and above all the shrill monotonous piping, produced an effect which almost paralysed me...”. (H.P. Lovecraft, The Moon-Bog). The musical texture here is extremely rich, there are many nuances and every time you'll listen to this piece you'll discover something new...
Well, all in all I think that this is a very good album... Have a try!
Goad: Masquerade (2011). Other opinions:
Jim Russell: At 77 minutes "Masquerade" is a long and chilling journey which some will say could use editing, but those who enjoy it will not want it to end. Driving heavy guitars and bass, chunky, lumbering and distorted are featured with all manner of dark keyboard textures, saxophone, and larger than life vocals. The moods are powerful and thundering, occasionally contrasted with eerie softer sections which just make the tracks pop with intrigue. In these sections you will experience sumptuous solo string performance, flute, and acoustic guitar----even a classical solo interlude at one point. But the most important impression to convey is the sense of unease and imbalance foisted on the listener as this unfolds like a tale from a dusty old magician's book... (read the complete review HERE)