L'inferno dei musici (The hell of musicians) is the fourth studio album by Oloferne, an Italian band from Chiaravalle, a little town in the province of Ancona. This interesting album was self-released in 2014 with a beautiful packaging featuring an art cover taken from the triptych called The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch, that in some way depicts its content. In fact, according to an interview with the band, this album represents an existential choice: - on the album everything - music, lyrics and artwork - symbolizes a full immersion into the world of art, a true descent into hell, both for the musicians who play and for the listener. The album is a poetical manifesto of the musician's path, we portray an imaginary world through the eyes of a musician who, by describing it, disappears...
Oloferne's roots date back to 1999 and the current line up features Alessandro Piccioni (vocals, flute, bass, guitar), Giacomo Medici (vocals, guitar, percussion), Gianluca Agostinelli (electric and acoustic guitars), Giuseppe Cardamone (violin) and Marco Medici (drums, percussion). There are no keyboardists involved in this project but the overall sound is rich and all the instruments perfectly interact weaving an original music fabric that draws from sources of inspiration ranging from Celtic folk to classical music, from progressive rock to Italian canzone d'autore. Well, an album that I think is really worth listening to...
The lively opener, “Invictus”, is an excellent instrumental track that blends elements of Celtic folk, Vivaldi and Jethro Tull. It begins softly by violin and percussion, then the other instruments join adding new colours and musical flavours. The following “Danza macabra”, depicts a strange dance under the moon where you can see skeletons and headless bodies frantically move while sinners and saints play the dice of a broken Fate... “Have you already heard the darkest note of such a kind of music? / The moon will be queen of the skull that is whistling... Stop your march, the danse macabre is playing for you...”. Then comes the short “We Have No Heads”, in the same mood, where the band interpret in a personal way Traditional Irish Folk Song by Denis Leary.
The title track, “L'inferno dei musici” (The hell of musicians), is the main course of the album. It's a beautiful suite divided into three parts that starts with a calm section based on an acoustic guitar arpeggio... “Here with us you'll drink the music of the spheres / On the back the sounds are shivers / It's the garden of earthly delight that is waiting for you / Here your damnation is your strength / Take my hands, forget your limits...”. The seducing lyrics invite you to relax and follow the enchanted sounds coming from a hurdy gurdy... “Cut off your ears / And wait for the raven that will fetch them...”. In the second section the rhythm rises while the dream becomes a nightmare and you risk to get lost in a ring-around-the-rosey, you're surrounded by satyrs and feeling like a smiling crucifix on the verge of madness, sentenced to the gallows with your harp as a scaffold. An excellent instrumental part concludes the suite.
“Soldati di memoria” (Soldiers of memory) is a folk ballad veined of electricity that conjures up the ghosts of unknown soldiers, victims of useless battles, slaves of blood and glory. They're the forgotten children of a dream that the music brings back to life... “Fragments of mud, fragments of history / Drops of dew wake the memory up... Now they're dreaming dancing stars / They are drops of air tightened in a single note...”.
Then comes “Impressioni di settembre” (Impressions of September) a PFM's cover interpreted with good personality where violin and electric guitar play in turn the role of Moog. The last track, “Profezie del tempo” (Prophecies of Time), is a sweet acoustic ballad, a kind of timeless prayer celebrating music and harmony... “Don't ask me why / My God is the wind / Do not heed Time's prophecies... Caress the string of that fiddle / An ancient sound will show us the way / Time and space are trunks and chains / That a flute can lift up and transform into snow...”. Well, a splendid finale for a very nice piece of art!