Locus Amoenus began life in 2010 in San Michele di Serino, a small town in the province of Avellino, in an area called Irpinia. The name of the band comes from a literary quote that refers to an ideal place where you can reflect about life and reality: an imaginary, beautiful spot and a real source of inspiration for the mind. After a hard work and a good live activity on the local scene, in 2013 the band self-released an excellent debut album, “Clessidra” (Hourglass), with a line up featuring Alessio Vito (vocals, guitar, flute), Raffaele Purgante (electric guitar), Antonio Di Filippo (sax), Alessandro Ragano (bass) and Mauro Cefalo (drums). The overall sound draws on many sources of inspiration ranging from classical music to jazz, from folk to metal, but the members of the band managed to add a good deal of original ideas, personality and freshness. The result is pretty good and even if on the album you can hear echoes from the seventies you can feel that this is not a clone act at all and, in my opinion, the music is really worth listening to from start to finish with an open mind.
The opener “Tra la mente e gli infiniti inverni dell'anima (Preludio)” (Between the mind and he infinite winters of the soul) sets the atmosphere of this work. It's a beautiful instrumental piece that starts at the sound of a bell and features many changes in mood and rhythm. The title is in some way related to the art cover by Davide Panarella that, according to an interview with the band, tries to capture the spirit of the whole album representing a glance through the soul's eye over an arid, cold reality.
Then comes the long, complex “Inverno” (Winter) that every now and again recalls bands such as Osanna, Van der Graaf Generator and Jethro Tull, with a good interaction between sax and flute. The music and lyrics depict an eye in the sky observing the bitter destiny of the earth: it looks at the earth's defeat from above while a tear wets its hermitage, sweeping away its malignity. Cold winds blow shaking the dry branches of a tree, then the tree drops its fruits and disquieting instrumental passages evoke a never ending winter. Clouds of smoke cover the sky and the light gets lost into the darkness while the tired eye keeps on looking at the gloomy landscape below, crying...
The following “Il suono di Lei” (Her sound) is another long, complex track. The mood is lighter, here the music and lyrics try to conjure up a mystical character, a goddess who can breath a new life into a bleak reality, waking up the senses with her singing. It's almost a parable about the cathartic power of music: there's no hope without the charming sounds coming out from some mysterious, enchanted woods... Only those sounds can break the chains of the daily grind!
“Lettera di un folle” (Letter from a madman) begins by the sound of a quill writing frantically on paper and a delicate acoustic guitar arpeggio, then the rhythm rises. There are many changes in rhythm and mood, some soft passages remind me of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, some others are wilder and remind me of Area and Il Balletto di Bronzo. The music and lyrics depict a man halfway between lucidity and folly who's drawing some images taken from a blurred reality that Time is blotting out. The words are moving on the paper like leafs falling from a tree: tired, they get lost along the way, in an eternal quest for a Love that whips the heart...
|Locus Amoenus on stage|
At over six minutes in length, “Amleto” (Hamlet) is the shortest track on the whole album but it's not not an easy listening one. In fact, this is an experimental piece featuring a free jazzy approach and confused voices in the background declaiming some verses from Shakespeare's Hamlet. The atmosphere is dark, suspended between dream and nightmare...
Next comes the melancholic “Anima” (Soul), a bitter-sweet reflection about life and afterlife where for a moment your soul breaks through and your mind begins to fly across a crying sky, over dreams and illusions, over hopes and disappointments, towards a fairy land where there's no room for pain. The come back to reality is hard when the parallel world you were dreaming of suddenly clashes with the usual routine of a life where everything is normal and boring.
The dreamy “I segni del Mio tempo” (The signs of My time) closes the album with a touching reflection about the effects of consumerism. In a world where materialism and money rule without mercy there's no room for real beauty and feelings. Music dies and poetry fades away while freedom fails... Well, after a silent pause there's still time for a sudden, hidden burst of rage and indignation!
On the whole, I think that this is a very good album where the poetical lyrics perfectly fit the music drawing melancholic, beautiful wintry landscapes suspended between dream and reality. Anyway, have a try and judge by yourselves!
You can listen in streaming to the complete album HERE