After the long awaited 2012 debut album Quanah!, the Venetian band Quanah Parker came back in 2015 with a second work and a renewed line up featuring Riccardo Scivales (keyboards), Elisabetta Montino (vocals), Giovanni Pirrotta (electric and acoustic guitars, bass), Paolo Ongaro (drums, percussion) and Alessandro Monti (bass, recorder, bells, tabla, claves, triangle). The new album was released on the independent label M.P. & Records and it's titled Suite degli animali fantastici. According to the liner notes, the main course of the album is a long suite sung in Italian that was inspired by a friend, Edward J. Shanaphy who came with the idea of writing an album about some fantastic beasts. The initial idea was then developed by the band's leader and composer Riccardo Scivales with the help of lyricist and multi-instrumentalist Alessandro "Unfolk" Monti who, identifying these "fantasy creatures" as projections of a human mind, imagined them setting off on a fascinating journey through space and time to finally come back to their creator. The whole band contributed to refine and complete the music and lyrics adding colours and emotions to make the dream come true. In my opinion, the result is amazing!
|Quanah Parker 2014|
The hypnotic opener "From Distant Lands" is not part of the suite but perfectly fits the subject matter and represents a wonderful introduction to the album. It begins softly and you can feel an exotic magnetism in the air. Then you can hear the soaring song of a mermaid playing with her hair under the water and through the light. She's smiling...
Then comes the long, complex "Suite degli animali fantastici" (Suite of the fantastic beasts) that is divided into eight parts and starts with the dreamy "Risveglio Onirico" (Oneiric awakening) where the music and the narrative vocals conjure up gentle waves breaking on the shore of a fantastic island on a timeless sunny morning. Here, slowly a dream comes to life, sneaking its way through imagination and reality, coming out from the threshold of sleep... On the second part, "Danza di un mattino" (Morning dance), the rhythm rises and there's an electric atmosphere while Elisabetta Montino gives voice to the fruit of a sensory illusion that begins to move around in an ecstatic dance. "Interludio Notturno" (Nocturnal interlude) is a short, dreamy passage featuring male and female vocals evoking an invisible beast hiding in the shadows, under the moon, keeper of a mysterious secret... The following "Déjà Vu Fantastico" (Fantastic Déjà Vu) is brighter and the soaring vocals take you up in the air, across the sky and beyond the borders of myth, where echoes of past lives resound and you get lost among strange, ever-changing shapes. Two eyes are staring at you, shining like stones of light...
"Luci dagli Abissi" (Lights from the abyss) is a calm instrumental passage the leads to the mysterious "Cantico Marino" (Sea song) where you can almost hear the breath and the voice of talking dolphins. You're getting lost in an illusion of eternal life, you can't stop sinking into another dimension... The music and lyrics of the following part "Animale Multiforme" (Multiform beast) depict a beast that can breath into the abyss of memory and that can generate a rainbow in the air just by a twist of its tail. It can fly beyond the clouds and through the galaxies and now it's running, leaving its tracks in the labyrinth of your mind... The last part, "Ritorno alla Mente" (Back to the mind) marks the end of this cathartic dream painting the awakening with soft, autumnal colours. The dream is gone but something remains: illusions, fantastic stories, tangled thoughts under the rain and a new awareness... What a wonderful suite! Perfectly at ease with her native language, Elisabetta Montino vocals can be ethereal and powerful in the meantime and her theatrical approach here underlines the visionary strength of the music and lyrics with great effectiveness. Moreover, not only did she interpret the storyline with her vocal performances but also with images since she also took charge of the drawings for the beautiful art work.
|Quanah Parker on stage|
After the "fantastic suite" comes a tribute to Francesco Di Giacomo, the late vocalist of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso who passed away in 2014. "A Big Francesco" (To Big Francesco) is a melancholic instrumental track filled with emotion and poignant nostalgia that recalls the best moments of the Roman band now kept alive by Vittorio Nocenzi.
Well, so far so good! Unfortunately, the last two tracks, "Death Of A Deer" and "Make Me Smile" are not at the same level of the rest of the album and sound to my ears almost like fillers or bonus tracks. Both are sung in English, the first one is a long piece with some folksy passages where Elisabetta Montino tries to give voice to the feelings of a hunted deer while the latter is a love song with a jazzier mood. Anyway, do not worry: the last two tracks do not spoil the pleasure of listening to this beautiful work! Have try, I'm sure it will be an excellent addition to every prog collection!