Monday, 24 February 2014

FLYING THROUGH THE VOID

Falena began life in 2002 in Rocca di Papa, near Rome, on the initiative of Andrea Trinca, Emiliano Sellati and Alessandro Fusacchia, influenced by the alternative rock scene and progressive rock. In 2007 they released a first self produced album full of raw energy, Impressioni. After some line up changes and a good live activity on the local scene, in 2013 the band released another self produced album, L'idiota (The idiot), with a line up featuring founder members Emiliano Sellati (vocals), Alessandro Fusacchia (guitar) and Andrea Trinca (bass), along with Marco Rusignuolo (guitar), Marco Peschi (keyboards, synthesizers, flute) and Rossano Acciari (drums). The overall sound here is more refined and mature than on the previous work and the band showcase really good song-writing skills blending hard rock and calmer passages, ethereal atmospheres and disquieting moods. The strong theatrical attitude of the vocalist and lyricist Emiliano Sellati adds brilliant touches of colour to the musical fabric with excellent results. There are no liner notes but all the tracks are in some way linked and tell in a poetical way about a daily diet of despair, a metaphorical fall into a void where your personality and your sanity are in danger.

Falena 2013

The dark opener “L'idiota” (The idiot) evokes in music and words the obscure ghosts of madness. Here madness is nothing but a scream without voice, sentences and inhibitions coming out from deeds without ardour leading to days without light. Heaps of hourglasses mark the life of men who can't fly towards the sun and get lost into a black void, victims of their false illusions, submerged by morals that prevent them from understanding what freedom really is. The fools have wings too thin to fly and they end up to dream of becoming what they already are...

The album cover painted by Alfonso Paulis

Il destino è coperto da...” (Destiny is covered by...) is another track featuring an uneasy mood where the borders between nightmare and reality get blurred. Try to imagine a rag covering your destiny, then a sudden cut in the rag lets the light in... There is someone who can control all your activities, you're flying like a bee in a swarm, but you feel as if you were drunk on your ego... “No place is so far / There are always imperceptible voices...”.


La ricerca del nulla” (The search for nothing) describes in music and words a pointless inner quest within the boundaries of order to dig out your hidden impulsions. Soon space and time become meaningless concepts... Along the way you'll meet voiceless giants proud of their greediness, keepers of shadows, untied dogs and other strange creatures, you'll be mislead by peculiar dreams and mirages, you'll be deceived by strange images and powerful illusions but in the end you won't find what you're looking for... “We're looking for nothing / We're looking for...”.

Una strana sensazione” (A strange sensation) is another tense track describing a kind of emotional short-circuit that causes a sudden dizziness and a fall down the stairs while the borders between obsession and logic disappear... “I will be a flower of paper / Without stem nor soil...”.


Cibo di uomini” (Food of men) features a slower pace and a hallucinatory mood. The visionary strength of the lyrics conjures up surreal images describing an anthropophagic rite of daily cowardice, a banquet where men feed on other men and brains are on sale. It's a bold metaphor suggesting the absurdity of struggling for power and money... “I will love the Autumn that knocks down the world / Between the murmurs of automatons dressed for the party / And that innocence which turns on every truth of mine / Feed of men... Men...”.

Es!” is about a tearing inner conflict, a war where the real personality of a man is at stake and risks to get suffocated by an external mechanism. The music and the hermetic, evocative lyrics depict brains assembled and disassembled on production lines to celebrate the victory of impersonality. You can't ignore what you can't explain, to survive you've got to enter labyrinths of snow where everything reappears and a drop of colour or a sun ray is all you need to remember who you are.


The final track “Spazi vuoti” (Empty spaces) features recitative vocals and ethereal atmospheres. While the words flow away in a measured cadence, every now and again Pholas Dactylus come to mind... Finally this strange kind of trip through silent, empty spaces surrounded by the ghosts of madness comes to an end. Eventually you can hear a sound and you realize that you're not insane after all!

On the whole I think that this is a very interesting work... Anyway, have a try and judge by yourselves! By the way, the album is available in digital edition on the main digital stores while for the physical copy you have to ask the band.

More info:

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

THE PARK OF MONSTERS

Taproban began life in Rome in 1996 on the initiative of keyboardist Gianluca De Rossi and drummer Fabio Mociatti. The name of the band was inspired by the ancient name of Ceylon or Sri-Lanka where Italian philosopher Tommaso Campanella (1568 – 1639) set his imaginary “City of the Sun”. After a lot of trouble and line-up changes, in 2002 Taproban released their debut album, “Ogni pensiero vola” (Every thought flies) on the French label Musea Records with a line-up featuring founder member Gianluca De Rossi (keyboards, moog, synthesizers, acoustic guitar, vocals) along with Davide Guidoni (drums, percussion) and Guglielmo Mariotti (bass, acoustic and classical guitar, mandolin, vocals). The main sources of inspiration of the band are Emerson Lake & Palmer and Le Orme but the music is not too derivative and perfectly fits the concept. The music and lyrics, in fact, were inspired by a very peculiar place, the Garden of Bomarzo, near Viterbo, also known as the park of Monsters of Bomarzo. It’s a set of monuments created by Prince Pierfrancesco Orsini in the XVI century and made up of small buildings and a wooded park populated by strange sculptures. It was built not to please but to astonish and its symbolism is arcane. According to the liner notes, the band tried to transpose in music the ideal dimension behind this artistic creation, which consists of “non-conformist, parodoxical overturning of the Renaissance stylistic principles of balance and harmony, proposing instead a horrid, grotesque version of classical mythology and chivalric epic”. Well, it’s high time now to visit the park following a musical path between mythology and fantasy...


The opener “Prologo” (Prologue) starts with dark sounds and hypnotic percussive patterns, then the tension melts into a dreamy acoustic passage... From a window in his castle Prince Pierfrancesco Orsini still seems to be observing the statues in his garden... “You, who are coming in, leave out every thought / Until you reach your goal...”.

L’enigma della Sfinge” (The Sphinx enigma) is full of vibrant energy and exotic excitement. In the middle section you can hear echoes of bolero and oriental touches... At the entrance to the garden there are two mysterious sphinxes, one with an enigma carved in its stone... “You, who are coming in, set your mind aside / And tell me whether so many wonders are made for deceit or for art...”.


Orlando che squarta un pastore” (Orlando quartering a shepherd) is a very short instrumental that was inspired by a sculpture portraying Orlando, the protagonist of the poem Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto, quartering a shepherd who had annoyed him. It’s a kind of warning against the excesses of passion leading to blind rage...

The dreamy, ethereal “La Tartaruga e la Fortuna” (The Turtle and Fortune) was inspired by a sculptural group representing the contrast between Virtue and Fortune. The Turtle symbolizes the prudence required to follow the inconstant ways of Fortune, a female winged figure walking on a ball and playing two horns. “Blind and inconstant ruler of the world / I must pay attention to second her balance...”.

In “Pegaso il cavallo alato” (Pegasus the winged horse) the rhythm takes off for a ride on the wings of fantasy. This track was inspired by the statue of one of the best known imaginary creatures in Greek mythology, a divine winged white horse... “Look at his wings, the wings of freedom / Look in his wings, the wings of freedom...”.


La casa pendente” (The little leaning house) is a kind of surreal psychedelic track featuring strange filtered narrative vocals and evocative experimental sounds. It was inspired by a strange building that is set in the Garden of Bomarzo, a small leaning house apparently bent by adversities but which never falls down...

Il signore del bosco” (The lord of the wood) starts with dark organ chords. It’s a short instrumental inspired by the statue of an old man sitting on a throne, the God of Hell as depicted by the Italian poet Torquato Tasso in his poem Jerusalem Delivered, first published in 1581, which tells a largely fictionalized version of the First Crusade.

La ninfa dormiente” (The sleeping nymph) is another beautiful instrumental, an idyllic interlude that begins with a delicate acoustic guitar arpeggio setting a dreamy atmosphere. It was inspired by the statue of a woman lying on her back...


L’Orco (Lasciate ogni pensiero voi ch’entrate)” (The ogre – Set aside every thought you who enter here) is a long, complex track featuring a dark atmosphere. It was inspired by an enormous, ferocious mask representing the door to Hell and portrayed on the album cover. “Infernal monster mask, in your gaping maw there’s a room carved in the rock / I go in cautiously / The light is low, it filters from the holes of the eyes / It carves the table, and on the walls...”. Well, listen to the music and imagine the rest!

The last track “Il tempio araldico” (The heraldic temple) is an amazing instrumental with a strong Renaissance touch. It was inspired by a memorial to Giulia Farnese, Pierfrancesco Orsini’s wife, located at the top of the garden. It’s also called the heraldic temple and represents victory over death and oblivion and the achievement of a spiritual purification releasing from anxiety...


More info about the band:

Monday, 17 February 2014

WHEN THE PAST IS REAL

Gli Ingranaggi della Valle are a young prog band that was formed in Rome in 2010 on the initiative of Mattia Liberati and Fabio Gonnellini with the aim of reviving the atmospheres of Italian seventies prog. After some line up changes and a first demo recorded in 2011, in 2013 the band released their first full length album, In hoc signo, on the independent label Black Widow Records with a line up featuring Igor Leone (vocals), Mattia Liberati (keyboards, vocals), Flavio Gonnellini (guitars, vocals), Marco Gennarini (violin, vocals) and Shanti Colucci (drums, percussion) plus some guests such as Marco Bruno (bass), Edoardo Arrigo (bass, backing vocals), Simone Massimi (bass), Fabrizio Proietti (classical guitar), Beatrice Miglietta (backing vocals), Angelica Sauprel Scutti (backing vocals), Mattias Olsson (drums, percussion) and David Jackson (from Van Der Graaf Generator, sax and flute). In my opinion, the result of the hard work of all the musicians involved in this project is excellent. In hoc signo is a concept album inspired by the First Crusade but despite the vintage sounds and the subject matter this work appears always fresh and “authentic”...

Ingranaggi della Valle 2013

What is authentic? Anything that is not devised and structured to make a profit. Anything that is not controlled by corporations. Anything that exists for its own sake, that assumes its own shape. But of course, nothing in the modern world is allowed to assume its own shape. The modern world is the equivalent of a formal garden, where everything is planted and arranged for effect. Where nothing is untouched, where nothing is authentic. Where, then, will people turn for the rare and desirable experience of authenticity? They will turn to the past. The past is unarguably authentic. The past is a world that already existed before Disney and Murdoch and Nissan and Sony and IBM and all the other shapers of the present day. The past was here before they were. The past rose and fell without their intrusion and moulding and selling. The past is real. It's authentic...”. Well, these words are taken from Michael Crichton's novel Timeline and in some way I think they could help to understand the spirit of this album, very rich in ideas although respectful of the tradition. But maybe the beautiful art cover by Marcello Toma describes the content of this work better than all my words...


The short opener “Introduzione” (Introduction) sets a dreamy atmosphere and leads to “Cavalcata” (Ride), a wonderful track that depicts a group of Norman knights riding through Italy directed to the port of Otranto. Their banners are waving like sails in the wind and you can hear prayers in Latin and toasts. There are many changes in rhythm and mood, there's a feeling of pride and hope but also a poignant sense of impending tragedy.

Mare in tempesta” (Stormy sea) describes the departure of the ships carrying the Christian knights across the Adriatic Sea. It starts softly, the mood is dreamy. The crusaders look back at the Italian coastline, they think of their families and lands but they're ready to fight in the name of the Sacred Truth. Then the rhythm rises, the wind begins to blow stronger and stronger and the ships are battered by the waves.


Via Egnatia” greets the landing of the Christian army on the other side of the Adriatic Sea. It's the calm after the storm, but other obstacles are waiting for the crusaders along their march to Byzantium such as a very cold winter and heretic cities to siege. The title refers to a road constructed by the Romans in the 2nd century BC running through territory that is now part of modern Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Greece, and European Turkey.

The magnificent epic “L'assedio di Antiochia” (The siege of Antioch) is in some way the keystone of the album. It tells about the Siege of Antioch but this work is not a celebration of the Crusades and while listening to this album you've always to keep in mind that, as explained in the liner notes, this is the story of a few Norman knights that faced the development of a modern social conscience in a period dominated by a savage and intolerant individualism... a time that's not so far away. As the battle rages on, the lyrics swing from Italian to Latin to describe the slaughter of innocent women and children in the name of God... “Damnatio aeterna nobis! / Miserere nostras spathas! / Murky images envelop you, crusader / You loosen your grip on the hilt / Your hands drenched with tears can't hide your face from the judgement of God...”. Some knights are fed up, they realize that they have betrayed Christ in His name, in hoc signo, wearing the symbol of the sacred cross. So, they desert from the Christian army and run away from the Western world.


The instrumental “Fuga da Amman” (Escape from Amman) describes a desperate journey through sunny deserts and mysterious countries. There are many changes in rhythm and atmosphere, oriental flavours are mixed with frenzied jazz rock passages. It leads to “Kairuv'an” where a melancholic feeling of nostalgia for land and family is mixed with the colours and charms of the kingdom of Sheba... “Forgive me my love / I can't come back to you...”.

Masqat” describes the next leg of this desperate journey through unknown countries. Our heroes get lost in the narrow alleys of an Arabic seaport city where they can smell exotic spices blending with the sea. On the following “Jangala Mem” the atmosphere becomes darker, almost mystical. The knights have come to India where they meet a wise old man in a temple who is sleeping upon the wind. He wakes up and smiling speaks to them...


Next comes the complex, ethereal “Il vento del tempo” (Wind of Time) where dream and reality blur and the future mirrors in the past. The lyrics describe strange visions, there are mystic temples facing the sea, ancient towers from where you can observe the flight of mysterious spaceships... “Let the future speak – tells the hermit / In his hands the wind of Time bends... Manticore! Proud, but not in the soul / The forest of tomorrow is its realm / Its throne has been built by servile monkeys / It lies on the cranes of rebel tigers / In its mocking laughter it hides the wish for power without honour nor justice...”.

The epic “Finale” tells about the end of the cathartic dream. The altars of sand of an era without reason crumble and the brave crusaders finally find their redemption. Now the evil belongs to their past and their long journey comes to an end. Finally they can come back to their families and land, they can love again and ride back to their sweethearts with a new hope... “Now I consecrate my sword to a better future / I must come back!...”.

On the whole, I think that this is an almost perfect album where music and lyrics perfectly fit the storyline. An authentic must for every prog lover!

Ingranaggi della Valle: In hoc signo (2013). Other opinions:
Michael “Aussie-Byrtd-Brother”: I was initially very intimidated attempting to review this album. Where to begin discussing an album that bridges the classic vintage defining releases from Italy with a modern sound so perfectly? This album kind of reminded me of Marsupilami's deranged `Arena' album, and although they were not an Italian band, that one headed in every direction at once with a spastic `take no prisoners, grab them by the throat' approach yet somehow still managed to hold together as a strong cohesive work. Maybe this opinion of mine is also swayed as I look at the battle scene depicted here on the front cover like that one too! Anyway, there's a focused confidence and a keen ear for sublime melodies weaving through the reckless, thrashing and fiery instrumental passages. Take the triumphant fanfares of P.F.M, the jazz/fusion precision of Arti e Mestieri in a more symphonic style (they get several mentions in this review!) and the traces of darkness and edge of Biglietto Per L'Inferno and you might get an idea where to begin... (read the complete review HERE)
Steven Reid: Especially for a debut effort, which In Hoc Signo is, what Ingranaggi Della Valle have achieved here is really pretty impressive and it's virtually impossible not to recommend this album to those who revel in the styles in which this band specialise... (read the complete review HERE)

More info:


Sunday, 9 February 2014

POEMS UNDER THE STARS

Pane is a project that began life in Rome in the early nineties on the initiative of Claudio Orlandi and Maurizio Polsinelli. Their aim was to find a very personal musical fabric mixing poetry, literature, theatre, classical music, jazz, canzone d'autore, rock and many other influences. In 2003 they released a self-produced eponymous début album, followed in 2008 by Tutta la dolcezza ai vermi. Orsa maggiore (Ursa Major) is their third work and was released in 2011 with a line up featuring Claudio Orlandi (vocals), Maurizio Polsinelli (piano), Vito Andrea Arcomano (acoustic guitar), Claudio Madaudo (flute) and Ivan Macera (drums). It's a good album and the song-writing in my opinion is excellent although the overall sound in my opinion is penalized by the lack of bass and organ. Of course, this is the consequence of a precise stylistic choice made to exalt the theatrical approach of the vocalist and to give the correct balance between lyrics and music but in my opinion the result could have been better if the band had added more musical colours to their palette.


The opener “L'umore” (The mood) features a charming, soaring melody while the music progresses from dark to light like an oblique bolero towards peaks of intense beauty. The hermetic lyrics depict in some way the need to be always open to the world to find peace, even if it's really difficult some times... “I've changed many times my way of thinking / Despite the risks due to my mood...”.


Then comes the short, disquieting “Gocce” (Drops) that is about the feelings of a man who's listening to the sound of the raindrops falling outside in the night while a silent anguish bounds him as a golden chain... “Tonight it's raining outside... The raindrops let me rest / Solemn nuances, not only sheet music / I hope you are among those raindrops...”.

The title track is a nice piece of joy and revolution where songs are weapons. It features echoes of South America and a style that reminds me of Italian singer-songwriter Paolo Conte. The lyrics are based on a poem by Vladimir Mayakovsky titled Our March... “Hey there, Ursus Major, clamour for us to be taken to heaven alive! / Sing, of delight drink deep, drain spring by cups, not by thimbles / Heart step up your beat! / Our breasts be the brass of cymbals...”.


La Pazzia” (Madness) is a delicate, melancholic ballad that depicts a creeping feeling of madness that stealthily attains you like the songs of enraged dogs or the laments of people brawling at night... “You have to run away without your flowers / You must run away without your flowers / They ask you light and you are burning in a desert of nothing...”.

Samaria” is a long track featuring an almost mystical atmosphere that describes in music and words a desperate, difficult march through the arid land of Palestine. The lyrics are based on a poem by Italian writer Gesualdo Bufalino titled Lamento del viaggiatore (Traveller's lament). “There is nothing but crossroads and I continue to stumble and fall down / I go on keeping my head down / Along this way that I don't know... Oh betrayed comrades, follow me barefoot / Throw stones at me from afar...”.


Tutto l'amore del mondo” (All the love in the world) is an ethereal piece dealing with a spiritual, universal love. The music features Oriental touches and ethnic instruments played by the guest Bob Salmieri (from Milagro Acustico). “I feel the beating of your wings, the slow sound of your thoughts / Whether you are on the banks of the rivers or on a walk in the land of wolves...”.

Fiore di pesco” (Peach blossom) is a short, melancholic piece that describes in a poetical way a broken relationship. It leads to the visionary “Cavallo” featuring theatrical vocals and a dark mood on the brink of madness. The lyrics are freely based on a story by Italian writer Victor Cavallo from the book Ecchime. The nocturnal, dreamy “Alla Luna” (To the moon) concludes the album evoking strange shadows and bizarre figures merging under the moon... “The foliage of the forest trail around my body / Leaving unheard and fruitful furrows...”.


Well, on the whole I really like this album although for non Italian speakers it could be difficult to appreciate it since the words really do matter here. Anyway, in the rich booklet you can find all the lyrics and some pictures that in some way help to describe the content of music and words. The art cover is taken from a drawing by Johannes Hevelius while in the booklet you'll find some paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Valentina Carta and other stuff.

Pane: Orsa Maggiore (2011). Other opinions:
Chirs “Seventhsojourn”: Overall this album leaves me feeling frustrated, mainly because the texts are of such importance and I think a deep understanding of Italian is required to get the most out of the music. And try to forget about any comparisons you might have seen to bands such as Banco and Area. Pane are fairly minimalist and are closer to avant-folk poetry, artists like Juri Camisasca and Angelo Branduardi spring to mind, and as such I can really only recommend this to hardcore RPI fans... (read the complete review HERE)

More info:

Friday, 7 February 2014

RAG MEN AND BROKEN DOLLS


After the successful album “Collage”, Le Orme developed some ideas already present in their previous work and released another masterpiece, “Uomo di pezza” (Man of rags). This album features the same line-up (Aldo Tagliapietra, Antonio Pagliuca and Michi Dei Rossi) and the same producer (Gian Piero Reverberi) of the previous work and is reputed one of the most influential albums of the Italian prog scene. The wonderful art cover features a painting by Walter Mac Mazzieri titled “Garbo di neve” that perfectly describes the mood of this work. There’s a perfect symbiosis between the music and lyrics and all the tracks are in some way linked by a thread. This work was conceived almost as a concept album and it’s a kind of journey in the feminine universe. Every song tells the story of a woman but the mood is not at all light or romantic. Troubled stories of violence, broken dreams, fears and madness are told in a very poetical, bold way while the music underlines the poetical content of the lyrics...

Walter Mac Mazzieri: Garbo di neve

The opener “Una dolcezza nuova” (A new sweetness) begins with a church-like organ sound. The organ tries to evoke the dreams of a young girl, such as a romantic relationship and a happy marriage, but sometimes things go wrong and the first experience with love and sex can be a real trauma. The rhythm section carries away those dreams. Then comes a new beginning, with a delicate piano pattern and soaring vocals... “I pick up your glance and I hold it tight in my hands / There’s an old fear in your eyes / Now dreams of ash are burning inside you / When your fears melt away, you believe in me...”. A new relationship with the right man can lead to a new sweetness... “The storm is inside your heart / And you find a shelter in me... Your voice becomes a whisper / And you, you are shaking beside me... I pick up your glance and I hold it tight in my hands / There’s a new sweetness in your eyes / New for you...”.

Gioco di bimba” (Little girl’s game) is a wonderful acoustic ballad about a broken charm... “She gets up in the night as if compelled by a spell / She silently walks with her eyes still closed / As if she would follow a magic song / And on the roundabout she comes back to her dreams...”. Well, despite the dreamy mood of the music this song is about a rape. A man tears apart the dreams of the young girl, then it’s too late for him to repent... “A stealthy shadow gets off the wall / In the little girl’s game a woman gets lost... In the morning a scream resounds in the middle of the street / A man of rags is invoking his tailor / In a lost voice he keeps on saying / I didn’t want to wake her up this way / I didn’t want to wake her up this way!”. In this case the tailor is a metaphor for God...


La porta chiusa” (The closed door) is about a woman who lives locked in her house fearing an impending meeting with her destiny... “As every evening you are alone in the dark / Your innocence keeps you company...”. The woman has renounced the struggle for love but suddenly she hears someone knocking on her door, what’s up? She would like to open and she doesn’t know why. The music helps raise the tension... Well, it’s difficult to say whether it was just a scoundrel or love passing by... “You didn’t open the door, why? / It could be him...”.

Breve immagine” (Short image) is a short, dreamy track describing an ideal woman through the eyes of a boy. She appears like a mirage, a light trick reflected in the water... “Over there, where the sky ends melting into the sea / There’s a young woman who is smiling to me... It’s an image that lasts just for a while / It’s an image that the sundown carries away...”.


Figure di cartone” (Cardboard figures) tries to depict in music and words madness. It’s about a woman closed in her room and completely cut off from the real world. She has lost her youth as a flower cut off from its branch in springtime... “You live in your own strange world made of cardboard figures and rag dolls / You live closed between those four walls / You can’t remember who took you in / You don’t know anyone but who plays with you / You don’t have the anxieties of the future / Time is worthless for you / Tomorrow you will do again what you did yesterday / And in your dreams you talk with angels...”. Despite the subject matter in this track the music is not aggressive and there’s a feel of mercy and melancholic sweetness... “You hold tight to your chest the pillow / And on the white wall shadows draw the profile of a woman with her baby / And so you fall asleep, happy...”.

Aspettando l’alba” (Waiting for sunrise) is about a summer night spent on a beach waiting for dawn. The sound of a guitar, songs soaring in the night, boys and girls on the sand around a bonfire... Nonetheless the music doesn’t express joy, there’s something wrong, a disquieting feeling in the air. There’s a girl with an empty, dazed face among so many smiling ones, so many eyes have become just one look... What happens next? Well, the lyrics don’t tell us but probably it was something so nasty that made even the wind angry... “A strong wind at dawn became angry with the sun / And the sea waves raged all over beach...”.

The last track “Alienazione” (Alienation) is an instrumental that tries to express madness and estrangement. It starts with a dark burst of energy, then a disquieting feeling soars from wild rhythm patterns hanging on until the end...


You can listen in streaming to the complete album HERE


Thursday, 6 February 2014

SLEEPWALKING IN THE GARDEN

After the release of their first official album entitled Perigeo (2012), Il Giardino Onirico started to re-work on the ideas of their 2010 demo titled Complesso K. In 2013 the band released a new, enhanced version of the demo on the independent label Lizard Records with a line up featuring Emanuele Telli (keyboards), Stefano Avigliana (guitars), Ettore Mazzarini (bass), Massimo Moscatelli (drums, percussion), Dariush Hakim (keyboards, effects) and Marco Marini (vocals). The title of this new work is Complesso K MMXIII to differentiate it from the original demo recordings and in my opinion the result is excellent.

Il Giardino Onirico 2013

Complesso K” is a long suite divided into four parts plus an introduction. The intro begins with narrative vocals and a dark, spacey atmosphere... “Oneiric is the way you take when the sundown closes the night curtain and its arms stretch out stealing streets, deserts, whispers...”. The words evoke strange psychedelic visions, musical harmonies and orgies of sounds and colours... Close your eyes, the words will follow you down into your sleep like a mystic incantation while a strange journey begins and the rhythm rises.


Well, the title of the suite refers to a K-complex and gives you a key to approach this work. A K-complex is an electroencephalography waveform that occurs during Non-Rapid Eye Movement sleep. According to wikipedia sources, unlike REM sleep, there is usually little or no eye movement during this stage. Dreaming is rare during NREM sleep... People who do not go through the sleeping stages properly get stuck in NREM sleep and because muscles are not paralyzed, a person may be able to sleepwalk... The mental activity that takes place during NREM sleep is believed to be thought-like, whereas REM sleep includes hallucinatory and bizarre content.


Part I and II are completely instrumental and feature a wide range of influences, from Pink Floyd and Eloy to Goblin and Pholas Dactylus. There are many sudden changes in mood and atmosphere but I never have the feeling of aimless improvisation. Lights and shadows, notes and images move in a quickening tempo like clouds in the sky. In the end of Part III the narrative vocals come back adding new evocative images... You'll sleepwalk on beaten tracks along your old steps, past and present will blur, forgotten lives and lost memories will come back, you'll live new passions and abandons... Classical inspired piano patterns are intertwined with psychedelic parts, dark organ rides alternates with brighter musical colours but the mix is always well balanced and never boring. The instrumental Part IV concludes the suite in a crescendo of positive energy... You're going to wake up!

On the whole, a very good album made to stir your imagination

You can listen to the complete album in streaming HERE

Il Giardino Onirico: Complesso K MMXIII (2013). Other opinions:
Michael Aussie-Byrd-Brother: This talented group of musicians have now released two top-notch albums in a row, and `Complesso K MMXIII' shows just how much potential the band still has, while also hinting at many exciting directions they can go on future releases. Never so dark to be pitch-black and overwhelming, always with an atmospheric and thoughtful edge, Il Giardino Onirico perfectly balance frenetic energy with subtle and delicate touches, and their music is always endlessly melodic. They deliver heavy colourful instrumental arrangements played with skill and precision, and heavy prog and space-rock fans should really investigate the band right away... (read the complete review HERE)



Sunday, 2 February 2014

THE WANDERING JEW

Il Segno del Comando began life in Genoa in 1995 as a studio project with the aim of reproducing the sound and the atmospheres of bands from the seventies such as Goblin, Il Balletto di Bronzo or Jacula. In 1996 an eponymous album was released on the independent label Black Widow Records, inspired by the novel of the same name by Italian writer Giuseppe D'Agata. In 2001 the band released e second album, Der Golem, inspired by a novel by Austrian writer Gustav Meyrink. In 2013, after a long hiatus and with a renewed line up featuring founder member and main composer Diego Banchero (bass, keyboards, Theremin) along with Giorgio Cesare Neri (guitars), Maethelyiah (lead and backing vocals), Fernando Cherchi (drums, percussions), Maurizio Pustianaz (keyboards, piano, organ), Roberto Lucanato (guitars) and Davide Bruzzi (giutars), the band released another concept album inspired by a novel by Gustav Meyrink, Il volto verde (The Green Face). Many prestigious guests contributed to enrich the sound, among others Claudio Simonetti from Goblin, Gianni Leone from Il Balletto di Bronzo, Martin Grice from Delirium, Vinz Aquarian from Il Ballo delle Castagne and Sophya Baccini. The result is excellent and the music and lyrics perfectly fit the concept although I fear that is almost impossible to completely appreciate this complex work without having read the book that inspired it.  

Il Segno del Comando 2013

The Green Face was written in 1916 and is set in a surreal Amsterdam post World War I. It is pervaded by a strong sense of mysticism and spirituality... I want to see a fresh, unknown world, I want a new sense of wonder such as must strike an infant if he were to become a grown man overnight... I want to be a full-stop rather than eternally a comma in the punctuation of time...

The opener “Echi dall'ignoto” (Echoes from the Unknown) is a short instrumental, provided by the guest Federico Pedichini a.k.a. Freddy Delirio from Death SS, that sets the atmosphere. It leads to the nervous, hypnotic “La bottega delle meraviglie” (The Hall of Riddles) that describes a visit to a very strange shop where the borders between reality and dream are blurred. Here the protagonist of the novel, Fortunatus Hauberrisser meets for the first time the strange, haunting character with the green face portrayed in the beautiful art work by Danilo Capua... It was smooth, with a black strip of cloth tied over its forehead, and yet it was deeply furrowed, like the sea, that can have waves but not wrinkle on its surface. The eyes were like chasms and yet they were the eyes of a human being and not empty sockets. The skin was a greenish olive colour and looked as if it were made of bronze, such as the races of ancient times may have had of whom it is said they were like dark-green gold...


The dark, Gothic “Chidher il Verde” (Chidher the Green) focuses on the peculiar character with the green face, vaguely based upon the legendary figure of The Wandering Jew. He's been on earth ever since the moon has been circling the heavens and is the one who can show you the way leading to a hidden spirituality... “Prophecy or circularity, claustrophobia, psychic undertow / You are just one step from the gallows / It's the turn of madness to rule over men...”.

The following “Trenodia delle dolci parole” (Threnody of the sweet words) features the beautiful vocals of the guest Sophya Baccini and draws a strong sense of loss and impending tragedy. It leads to the short, disquieting instrumental “Il rituale” (The ritual) and to the esoteric, threatening “La congrega delle Zee Dyk” (The Zee Dyk club) where the spectral vocals of another guest, David Krieg, contribute to draw a mystical delirium where the dangerous ritual of a cathartic, spiritual rebirth is consumed with deathly consequences.

Il manoscritto (The manuscript) is another track full of dark mysticism and visionary strength. There are some strong classical influences that could recall the Carmina Burana by Carl Orff and a constant flowing of raw energy waves. The protagonist discovers an ancient manuscript that helps him to go through some esoteric experiences... “The weapons of Death are: dream, daze and sleep / From one awakening to another, I live to find a new beginning...”.


The excellent instrumental “L'evocazione di Eva” (Eva's evocation) features the guests Claudio Simonetti (organ, Moog and Mellotron) and Martin Grice (flute sax). Along with the following “Retrospettiva di un amore” (Retrospective of a love) it depicts a love where spirituality prevails upon materialism. A strange magic binds the protagonist and his sweetheart, the strange prophecy of a perfect love that is stronger than Death...

Usibepu” was inspired by the character of the powerful necromancer and shaman of the same name, a violent and merciless Zulu warrior who wanted to possess Eva, the protagonist's fiancée... “Serving under the banner of greediness / I attend to the resurrection / I think again of the caste determination that prevented me from having you / Making even mockery of my magic...”.

The dazzling instrumental “L'apocalisse” (The Apocalypse) features the guest Gianni Leone (keyboards, organ, vocals) and describes with sudden vortexes of notes a storm so violent to conjure up the imagine of the end of the world. It leads to the final curtain of “Epilogo” (Epilogue), featuring narrative vocals and an obscure omen... “The walls of Jericho have crumbled / He's back from the Kingdom of Dead...”.

On the whole, an excellent, challenging work but beware! It takes many spins to be completely appreciated and, of course, you have to read the book!

You can listen in streaming to the complete album HERE

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