Wednesday, 17 June 2015

MEMORY TRICKS

Hailing from Santa Teresa di Riva, a small town in the province of Messina, Sicily, Conqueror have been part of the Italian prog scene for more than twenty years and Stems is their fifth full length studio album. It was released in 2014 on the independent label Ma.Ra.Cash Records, four years after its predecessor Madame Zelle, with a renewed line up featuring Simona Rigano (keyboards, lead vocals), Natale Russo (drums), Ture Pagano (guitars) and Peppe Papa (bass). Sabrina Rigano left the band in 2010 and without her flute and sax contributes the overall sound of the band is more keyboard and guitar driven than in the past but still extremely crisp and convincing. According to the band's website, on this album you can find eight tracks with a common thread, eight poetical frescoes of daily life memories where the passing of time changes the perception of reality. Anyway, each piece takes on its own very distinct personality and in the booklet you can find a photograph associated to every track that in some way helps to describe the mood of the music and lyrics...


The beautiful opener "Gina" is a long, complex track that evokes memories of warm hugs lingering in the night while time is nothing but a blurred concept. Who is Gina? There's no clue to know it, she might be an elderly woman or a little child... The music starts softly then a drum roll leads to darker passages and a disquieting marching beat seems to evoke the ghosts of an impending tragedy... What is left of the mysterious Gina is just the souvenir of a crown of coffee-beans and a smile, the perfume of a lost happiness, the sound of words that are still able to stir your imagination, a tenderness that stems from the soul and still shines in the memory...

The reflective, dreamy "Di notte" (At night) conjures up a melancholic quest in the dark for the signs of the days that are gone, a search for soft whispered words, breaths and sounds drowned into the light of a reality that leaves no room for memories and regrets and where your thoughts get lost in the perpetual motion of the daily grind...


Next comes the ethereal "False idee" (False ideas) that conjures up a mysterious atmosphere. After a walk under a dark moon, a strummed acoustic guitar passage evokes never forgotten silences that come back echoing around you until the first rays of the morning sun... When the sun will rise you'll have to make up your mind to see a new light and regenerate your faded energies, trampled by false ideas. In your dreams white butterflies are flying free among orchid petals. It might be a good omen...

On the following "Un'altra realtà" (Another reality) the soaring vocals of Simona Rigano interpret the thoughts of a woman that closes her eyes and pretends that she doesn't see what's happening around her. She dreams of another reality where good prevails over evil... Call it hypocrisy or just fragility or weakness but she wears a metaphorical mask and hides her feelings, biding her time to find another way of living...

Conqueror on stage 2014

The melancholic "Sole al buio" (Alone in the dark) features some bluesy passages and tells of the contrast between the promises of the childhood and the choices that you have to do when growing up. Now all the illusions and the promises of the past are gone, abandoned like old pictures in a box, left alone in the dark... But you can't forget that past and sooner or later you'll pick those pictures out of the box to look at them under a new light.

"C'est la vie" is a lively track that recalls PFM and tries to depict in music and lyrics the frenzied rhythm of progress in a modern age where you can never stop and look behind. No rules to follow, no time to breathe, no room for reflection, everyone is always in hurry and reason sometimes is left behind while the world runs like hell in a direction that we can't even imagine... Stop to think, at least for a while, soon the celebration of modern life will start again!


The calm, evocative "Sigurtà" depicts in music and lyrics the magnificent landscape of a natural park and the emotions provoked by the colours of its plants and flowers. You can walk along the paths of this enchanted place following the timeless ghosts of Romeo and Juliet... By the way, the title refers to, Parco Giardino Sigurtà, a beautiful natural oasis located in Valeggio sul Mincio, near Verona, the home city of the famous lovers.

The closer "Echi di verità" (Echoes of truth) is another great track where the music and lyrics depict in a poetical way curious lies and melancholic half truths, deceiving mechanisms that make you lose the sense of reality by deforming feelings, images, sounds and smells... How can you face such a labyrinth of mirrors and escape from the maze of your false perceptions? How can you decide and choose? How can you understand what is really important in your life as times goes by? Well, the answer is up to you...

On the whole, a wonderful album that marks the maturity of this band.


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