Wednesday, 28 March 2018

HOMESICK SAILORS AND SALTY DOGS


Il Fedelissimo Bracco Branco came to life in 2013 in Motta di Livenza, a small town near Treviso, when Guido Morossi (drums) and Loris Ceccato (bass) teamed up with Federico Panighel (accordion, keyboards, lead vocals) to play original compositions inspired by classic and progressive rock. In 2014 guitarist Stefano Crovato joined them and, after a good live activity on the local scene, in 2017 the band self-released an excellent debut album entitled Appunti di navigazione (Navigation notes), a conceptual work dedicated to the sea. In my opinion it’s an excellent work, fresh and rich in ideas. The use of accordion and the theatrical vocals give a particular touch of colour to pieces where vintage echoes are perfectly blended with more modern sounds while the packaging and booklet are enhanced by Erika De Pieri’s wonderful paintings that in some way convey the musical content through visual art. Strong melodies against the tides, timeless adventurers sailing free across unknown seas dreaming of new discoveries and promised lands… Are you ready to set off? 


The brilliant opener “Levate l'ancora” (Weigh anchor) introduces the subject matter: here the lyrics are loosely based on the Dialogue between Christopher Columbus and Peter Gutierrez from the Small Moral Works by Italian poet and philosopher Giacomo Leopardi while the music evokes open seas and the longing for adventure and freedom… Just as we care nothing for many benefits as soon as we possess them; so sailors cherish and value, very greatly, numerous things that are far from being good, simply because they are deprived of them... Once on terra firma, the mere consciousness of being free to go where we please will suffice to make us happy for several days... (Giacomo Leopardi, translated by Charles Edwardes). 

Il Fedelissimo Bracco Branco 2017

The music and words of the following “La zattera nel fosso” (The raft in the ditch) tell about the desire of adventure of a child who looks at the ships leaving a seaport for unknown destinations: he dreams to leave behind him the misery and boredom of his present life becoming a sailor like in a Stevenson’s novel… “Soon the anchor was short up; soon it was hanging dripping at the bows; soon the sails began to draw, and the land and shipping to flit by on either side; and before I could lie down to snatch an hour of slumber the Hispaniola had begun her voyage to the Isle of Treasure...”. Just a short quote from the novel Treasure Island to give you an idea of what this track is about! 


“Nella tana del mostro” (In the monster’s lair) is about the desperate fighting of the seamen against stormy weather and raging waves. Heavy electric guitar riffs and bold voices against the wind... You can hear here lightning, fire, the black fury of the sea but most of all the strength to fight together as a team to survive, to overcome every adversity... 

“Scegliendo la rotta” (Choosing the course) depicts the tension and doubts of a brave captain who has to make up his mind about the course to follow, defying his destiny and that of his crew. The captain prefers to risk his life rather than to go back with empty hands… Beware men, this is the final rush! Now the wind is with us, have faith! 


The melancholic “La ballata dell'arruolamento forzato” (Ballad of the forced enlistment) depicts the feelings of a sailor who was caught by the press-gang and forced to serve on warship, a vessel called Surprise. Every day he thinks of his lost sweetheart and family and hopes to go back home as soon as the war is over. Unfortunately, a cannonball takes his life before that day... 

The evocative instrumental “I pescatori dei banchi” (The fishermen of the banks) begins softly with a delicate piano solo pattern, then heavy guitars and the rhythm section come in… There are many changes in mood and atmosphere but result in my opinion is amazing. It’s a perfect soundtrack for a fishing adventure on an exotic, dangerous sea... 


The theatrical “Il ponte bagnato di sangue” (The bloody deck) depicts in music and words the failed attempt to capture a pirate ship. The narrator is the captain of a Navy vessel that is sure to beat his enemy. After a long hunt he sees the ship of the famous pirate Roger Spitfire… He can hear the bold, careless singing of the pirates. You can’t put in chains wolves like those and stop their wish for freedom... 

“Spartisci il bottino” (Share the loot) is a lively, beautiful instrumental piece that recalls the scores of the Italian films of the seventies called poliziotteschi. It leads to the dramatic “Sophie”, a caustic love song that depicts the feelings of a man still in love for a bad girl who cheated on him and stole his money. The trauma changed his life and transformed him into a cruel pirate. But he still longs for her... 


“Lo scontro finale” (The final clash) is full of positive energy and depicts the moment of the discovery of a new world: it’s the moment when the land appears on the horizon, slowly materializing through the fog. Beyond the unknown there’s always a new world for the brave but doubts are endless and a new discovery can never satisfy an adventurer... 

The closer “L'incrociatore” (The cruiser) is another beautiful instrumental track where aggressive riffs and calmer passages alternate giving a sense of dreamy adventure… On the booklet the picture chosen to describe this piece portrays a child with a toy war ship and a tiny soldier in his hands… 

On the whole, I think that this is really an excellent album, one of my favourites in 2017! 

You can listen to the complete album HERE


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Tuesday, 20 March 2018

FIVE EXERCISES OF STYLE



The Sundering came to life in 2010 in Sassari as a heavy metal band. After some line up changes, in 2012 they started to work on new original pieces turning to a different, more elaborated style adding more colours to their musical palette by incorporating in their sound different influences ranging from psychedelia to hard rock and prog. In 2018 they finally self-released a debut album entitled Pentameron with a line up featuring Filippo Lacana (vocals, cello), Fabio Cuccu (guitars), Davide Mura (guitars), Carlo Berretta (bass) and Lorenzo Murineddu (drums, percussion). It’s an interesting work where the band showcase good musicianship and a passionate love for classic rock and prog. Lorenzo Murineddu and Carlo Berretta took also charge of the nice artwork that in some way tries to describe the musical content of the album... 


The opener “Rush In The Forest” is a long track where the music and lyrics depict a strange Celebration of the nature. Imagine a beautiful, uncontaminated valley and a soaring, haunting singing that draws you deep into the forest. Behind the trees you can see the source of the music, happy people dancing in circles to the frenzied rhythm of a lysergic tarantella: a peculiar mix of PFM and Blind Melon! 

The following “Life On Earth” conjures up the image of a lonesome hobo, a solitary man wandering like a ghost in a big city. His home is the street, his only friend is a dirty dog, his only pleasure is playing an old guitar and singing for the passer-byes in this time of emptiness. There’s the shadow of Tim Buckley on his back… 


Then it's the turn of the short, careless “Take A Blow”, a kind of exercise of style full of energy and rhythm that blends funky and hard rock, Led Zeppelin and Django Reinhardt with a pinch of red hot spicy flavours to tell that the world can’t be just black or white. 

The nervous, nightmarish “Freshness In The Night” blends psychedelia, hard rock and jazz and takes you on a crazy ride on the empty streets of a big city, under the mocking light of a sparking moon. You can almost feel chilling waves of tension coming up from the deepest of your soul... 


The long, complex “Call Of The Sea” features the guest Elisa Brett on classical guitar and ends the album with heavy, electric passages full of energy and softer sections that take you on a long journey across the sea, from the California to the sunny shores of Brazil… 

On the whole, this is a good album, even if it doesn’t shine for its originality. In my opinion a touch of Hammond could have improved the overall sound and the use of the Italian language for the lyrics could have added more distinctive colours to the final picture, but never mind! I enjoyed it anyway… 

You can listen to the complete album HERE 


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Sunday, 18 March 2018

THE METAMORPHOSIS OF DREAMS



Alessandro Evangelisti is a young, classical trained keyboardist and composer from Rome, graduated at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory. In 2017 he recorded and self-released an interesting debut album entitled Disincanto (Disenchantment) gathering around him a line up featuring Francesca Palamidessi (vocals), Andrea Di Pasqua (guitar), Lorenzo Chiarantini (guitar), Leonardo Giuntini (bass) and Umberto Maria Lupo (drums). The result of the recording sessions is a colourful mix of progressive rock and strong classical influences where delicate piano passages alternate with hard, frenzied electric guitar riffs and dark organ waves. 


The opener “A picco sul mare” (Overlooking the sea) begins by an ethereal, dreamy atmosphere, then the tension rises conjuring up a sense of impending tragedy. The operatic soprano vocals soar high to the stars to tell in a poetical way a sad story of loss and broken dreams… Once upon a time, in a dark a stormy night, a crippled little girl was thrown into the sea by his father. The sky heeded the prayers of her desperate, crying mother and transformed the unfortunate girl into a siren… 


“La metamorfosi dei sogni” (The metamorphosis of dreams) is a wonderful instrumental full of dark energy and mystery that every now and again reminds me of the adventures of a penguin called Murple... Then comes “A Breath Of Fate” where we find the guest female singer Serena Stanzani who provides vocals and lyrics for an emotional song in the vein of Kate Bush. 

The following “Meditazioni inattuali” (Outdated meditations) is another good instrumental track that leads to the Middle Eastern echoes of “Gaza”, a piece about the never-ending Palestinian conflict. Here the charming voice of Francesca Palamidessi invites you to set your mind free from every idea of superiority in your relationship with other people for a real change while the music could recall the atmospheres of Abash’s beautiful album Madri senza terra


“Lo specchio dell’essere” (The mirror of being) is a melancholic, dreamy piece about the contrast between reality and an ideal world where peace and fantasy rule. Here the music and lyrics draw the picture of a city where children could play before a merciless war. What is left of that city is nothing but ruins, abandoned toys and burnt books. You can see dark reflections coming from the crumbled down buildings and hear the voices of the ghosts from a past that you can’t forget... 

The closer “Resti” (Remains) is a short, evocative instrumental track for piano solo, a perfect end for a short but well crafted album that is really worth listening to. Have a try! 

You can listen to the complete album HERE 


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Friday, 2 March 2018

THE SCREAMING KEY

The Screams Empire is the second album by the Milanese band Silver Key. It was released in 2015 on the independent label Ma.Ra.Cash with a renewed line up featuring Yuri Abietti (vocals, acoustic guitar), Roberto Buchicchio (guitars), Ivano Tognetti (bass), Davide Manara (keyboards, synthesizers) and Viviano Crimella (drums, percussion). Despite the line up changes, the band confirm here their good creative vein and all the good qualities of the debut album. Their neo-prog sound every now again veers to AOR, but you can hear also more experimental parts and jazzier passages while the lyrics deal with a social science fiction plot set in a dystopic future loosely inspired by the works of writers such as Philip K. Dick, George Orwell or Isaac Asimov. 


The committed opener “Screams Behind The Whispers” is a melodic track with a strong leaning to AOR. It’s a warning against the power of media and the false appearances they conjure up, the music and lyrics invite you to look behind the curtains and to fight against the serpents huddled in the backstage of an unscrupulous political world… 


Then comes the dreaming “Stargazing” that could recall Marillion and depicts in music and lyrics a strange gathering of cats on the city roofs and their mysterious concert to the stars… For the cat is cryptic, and close to strange things which men cannot see. He is the soul of antique Aegyptus, and bearer of tales from forgotten cities… The Sphinx is his cousin, and he speaks her language; but he is more ancient than the Sphinx, and remembers that which she hath forgotten... (quote from The Cats Of Ulthar by H.P. Lovecraft). 

Silver Key 2015

The nervous “A.S.I. (The Singularity)” is a bitter-sweet reflection about God and technology where a new omniscient, mocking creature rises from silicon and circuits like in a video-game. Then it’s the turn of “Event Horizon” where the music and lyrics try to describe the moment when you have to face your ghosts right in the eyes. It’s the point of no return where space and time get blurred in the event horizon of an irreversible change in your life... Neo prog with a nice, jazzy middle section and a pinch of drama! 


The long, complex “The Screams Empire” is a suite divided into four parts (I. Random Frequencies, II. The Arrival, III. A Quest In Time and IV. Resistance). It tells about the invasion of the Earth by peculiar alien beings, cruel reptiles that take control of the human race in a new empire where you have to scream louder than everyone else to rule and gather followers. The beautiful art work by Daniele Aimasso should give you an idea of the content of this interesting piece... 


The final track “Adrift” is a heartfelt, melodic ballad that tells of the feelings of an astronaut lost in space, adrift on his starship. The music and lyrics here deal with regret and nostalgia and depict the lost words from a haunting, overwhelming past that come up riding the waves of the thoughts of the protagonist. For this piece the band shot an evocative video directed by Marcella Savino… 

You can listen to the complete album HERE 

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