Saturday, 13 December 2014

THE WHITE SHIP

Nous is the fourth album by Nodo Gordiano, an Italian prog band based in Rome whose roots date back to 1994. It was released in 2014 on the independent label AMS/Btf with a renewed line up featuring founder member Andrea De Luca (bass, guitar, synthesizers) along with Carlo Fattorini (drums, percussion, vibraphone, glockenspiel) and Fabrizio Santoro (electric guitar, synthesizers, bass). Some guest musicians such as Silvia Scozzi (vocals), Gianluca Cottarelli (electric piano) and Valerio Di Giovanni (guitar) took part to the recording sessions and helped the band to enrich their sound. The result is this excellent concept album sui generis where the musicians managed to shape a very personal blend of tradition and new ideas. The artwork, music and lyrics draw dreamy landscapes and beckon you to embark on a voyage for fair unknown shores...

art cover

The opener "Portonovo" begins by a calm, dreamy acoustic passage that reminds me of Francesco Guccini's L'isola non trovata. Soaring vocals conjure up the image of a ship and invite you to casting off and set sail at dawn. You fatherland is over there and your fantasy is already gliding on the sea. Then the rhythm rises, the wind begins to blow and you're carried away by the waves... Well, in some way this track makes me think of a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, The White Ship..."Out of the South it was that the White Ship used to come when the moon was full and high in the heavens. Out of the South it would glide very smoothly and silently over the sea. And whether the sea was rough or calm, and whether the wind was friendly or adverse, it would always glide smoothly and silently, its sails distant and its long strange tiers of oars moving rhythmically...".


"Aion" is a beautiful instrumental track that every now and again recalls Pink Floyd. The image chosen to describe it in the booklet is an ouroboros, a serpent eating its own tail that usually symbolizes something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return. It features spacey, psychedelic atmospheres and dark energies running like hell all along the band's particular wall of sound. Then comes "Apologia del Nolano", a celebration of musical freedom that reminds me slightly of bands such as Area and BMS. The music and lyrics here evoke infinite spaces, nomadic songs breaking free from their prisons, kingdoms of unreachable echoes, uncountable worlds and distant lands where the people speak different languages that you can't understand and where the free breath of your soul can shine brightly.


The ethereal "Nous" is a long, complex instrumental piece full of psychedelic nuances. The image the band chose to describe it in the booklet represents an old, surreal world map... It leads to the dreamy "Officina" where you get lost at dawn on the limit between reveries and reality. Then you enter into a strange, magic workshop where you can exercise your crafts... Next comes the beautiful, alchemical "Arturiana", a charming instrumental track with a mysterious atmosphere described with the image of a sword in a circle and where you can almost perceive the ghosts of King Arthur and his knights of the round table riding through clouds and enchanted woods.

Nodo Gordiano on stage 2014

The closer "Stella Maris" is depicted by a ship sailing across a storming sea. It's another beautiful instrumental piece where the female vocals of Siliva Schiozzi are used as an instrument and seem to evoke the hypnotic singing of a mermaid... "I walked out over the waters to the White Ship on a bridge of moonbeams. The man who had beckoned now spoke a welcome to me in a soft language I seemed to know well, and the hours were filled with soft songs of the oarsmen as we glided away into a mysterious South, golden with the glow of that full, mellow moon..." (H.P. Lovecraft, The White Ship).

On the whole, I think that this is a very good album, an essential one for every Italianprog collector. Anyway, have a try and judge by yourselves!

You can listen to the complete album in streaming HERE

Nodo Gordiano: Nous (2014). Other opinions:
Jim Russell: Adventure, mystery, and a willingness to dive down any possible rabbit hole with a big hearted grin. If prog-rock is about fun and adventure and you don't mind forgoing the "easily accessible" on occasion, then you're likely to enjoy this one... (read the complete review HERE)
Michael "Aussie-Byrd-Brother": Although predominantly a space rock album, the band still work in classic vintage RPI/Italian prog traits, psych flavours and progressive-electronic traditions, driven by raging electric and ragged acoustic guitar, droning electronics and plentiful use of the mighty Mellotron! With cover art that suggests exploration and uncharted courses of an earthly kind, what the band really delivers aims straight for the furthest reaches of deep space... (read the complete review HERE)