Sunday, 7 March 2021

MOON AND SUN

 Illusion Of Gravity took shape in Turin in 2013 on the initiative of keyboardist Umberto Alberto and drummer Davide Garofalo. After some line up changes and a first period spent performing cover versions of pieces by Pink Floyd, Genesis, PFM, Caravan or Porcupine Tree, they started to work on their own compositions with the aim of merging into a progressive rock core a combination of different musical genres. In 2020 they finally self released a debut album entitled Too Late with a line up featuring Umberto Alberto (keyboards), Davide Garofalo (drums), Federico Aluzzi (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Alessandro Cascella (lead guitar) and Gabriele Zuddas (bass). The final result is a good mix of modern and vintage sounds... 
 

 
The opener “Too Late” starts by a spacey crescendo that could recall Pink Floyd, then the dark, pulsing atmosphere gives way to a more melodic part where the music and lyrics evoke the regrets for some wrong choices made in the past but also the awareness of the need to go on. If you try, you might find that it’s not too late to redeem yourself learning from your errors but you have to fight hard to come out from the abyss of a personal crises and never stop to hope in better days to come... 
 
“Shining Bliss” blends eighties keyboard sounds and more aggressive parts with electric guitar riffs in the forefront to depict and criticize a false, hypocritical world where appearances rule and the value of a person is based only on his or her richness and bloodline... 
 

 
The dark “Strange Home” conjures up haunting presences and painful memories that keep you stuck in a house once familiar and now transformed in a kind of mental prison. The following “I Can” starts by a keyboard pattern with a strong new wave flavour, then the music takes another direction while the lyrics depict an effort to break through from a bleak reality getting lost in a psychedelic trip... 
 
The long, complex epic “Kua Fu” closes the album with fiery guitar riffs and other brilliant instrumental passages. The title refers to the name of a giant who wished to capture the Sun, a legend in Chinese mythology that the band tells through the voice of Kua Fu by interpreting his desperate, crazy effort to tame the light. There are many versions of this myth, here the Moon, queen of the night, has mercy of the protagonist and tries to save him from the burning power of the Sun... 
 
On the whole, a good album full of nuances but that needs several spins to be fully appreciated. 
 
You can listen to the complete album HERE
 
More info:



Friday, 5 March 2021

TO LAUGH AND TO CRY

 La Cantina di Ermete are a progressive folk band from Ospitaletto, a town in the province of Brescia. Their roots date back to 1977 when they started as a simple folk group proposing original compositions in Eastern Lombard dialect. Along the years the line up went through many changes and the band had a good live activity but, except for some MC demos and some sparse pieces released in compilation albums with other artists, for a long time there wasn’t any official release with their own music available. In fact, De rìder e de piànzer (There is to laugh and to cry), is their first official album to date I’m aware of and was digitally self-released in 2021 with a line up featuring Annalisa Alborghetti (vocals, percussion, bodhran), Roberto Viesi (bass, bouzouki, percussion, mandoloncello), Sergio Minelli (guitar, vocals), Gianfranco Serra (flute, sax), Giovanna Baroni (flute), Gianni Binetti (vocals, bandoneon, piano), Lorenzo Palmoso (guitar, bouzouki, mandoloncello) and Andrea Abeni (guitar). The album in some way summarizes their career and I’m sure that fans of bands such as Malicorne will appreciate it... 
 
 

The joyful opener “Follestrocca” is a crazy nursery rhyme that brings back to life childhood memories of roundabouts and witches stories while the following “Ballo in 6/4 - Preghiera delle zitelle” blends folksy dances and sarcasm giving voice to a mocking spinster’s prayer. Then comes the calm, reflective ballad “Ghè 'n momènt” (There’s a moment) that could recall slightly early Clannad or Pentangle with its beautiful female vocals and nostalgic mood... 
 
The dreamy “Falìa d'istàt” is a short instrumental track for acoustic guitar and flute that precedes “Paneroni Giovanni, astronomo”, an acoustic ballad inspired by the historic character of Giovanni Paneroni (1871-1950), a peculiar ice-cream man and pseudo-scientist from Rudiano, Brescia. Eccentric self-taught astronomer and flat Earth believer, he never managed to be accepted by the official scientistic world, although he tried hard... 
 

 
“Salìda” conjures up spectacular mountain views and pure air to breathe while travelling on steep paths through thick Alpine woods. Then it’s the turn of the evocative instrumental “Aprile” with its careless pace and spring atmosphere. 
 
“E pense a te” is a delicate acoustic ballad that could recall Lucio Battisti and where personal thoughts and reflections unfold during a walk at dawn while the following “Mama so ulòta!” is a lively dance with strong folkloric colours. Next comes “Malmaridàda”, a funny piece featuring male and female vocals and lyrics about the troubles of a poisonous marriage between a violent man and a dangerous Dame Lombarde... 
 

 
The nocturnal “Creder ai 'nsòme” tells about foggy feelings under the moonlight and of a hope in a change for the better that comes from the dreams you have to follow to stay alive and to forget the pains of the daily routine. Then it’s the turn of the funny “Ghera 'na olta 'na siura” (Once upon a time there was a lady), about a lady who used to spend a lot of time to dress and make up just to go to the village to buy vegetables... 
 
The haunting ballad “Quan che saltàe i fòs per long” is a beautiful track whose title literally means “when jumping over the river to the long side” and refers to an idiomatic expression in Brescian dialect to define an impossible human act. Eventually, the evocative, colourful instrumental “Sentieri blu cobalto” closes the album with its relaxed, dreamy atmosphere. 
 
On the whole, a very interesting album that deserves a try! 
 
You can listen to the complete album HERE
 
More info:




Sunday, 28 February 2021

THROUGH POSEIDON'S TERRITORY

 Ellesmere II – From Sea And Beyond is the second album by Roman project Ellesmere and was released in 2018 on the independent label AMS Records. This time along with the talent of composer and multi instrumentalist Roberto Vitelli (bass, guitar, synthesizers, Moog, Mellotron) we can appreciate the contribute of prestigious guests such as Paolo Carnelli (piano, electric piano, keyboards, Hammond), Robert Berry (vocals), Trey Gunn (Warr Guitar), David Jackson (sax, keyboards), Alan Benjamin (guitar), Brett William Kull (guitar), Danilo Mintrone (Korg Microkorg), Davy O’List (guitar), Keith More (guitar), Marco Bernard (bass) and Daniele Pomo (drums, percussion). The overall sound is richer and more variegated if compared with the debut album and the influence of bands such as EL&P, Yes, Kansas or King Crimson is apparent. According to their label website, this is a conceptual work where every song deals with a different aspect of the complex relationship between man and sea, from man’s curiosity and fear towards what is hidden deep inside the sea to the call for adventure and for travelling to the end of the known world and beyond. The album artwork by English painter and designer Colin Elgie tries to depict the musical content... 
 

 
The first four tracks are linked together and form a long suite. The short opener “Tidal Breath” sets the atmosphere and starts by the sound of the ocean and the gentle breaking of the waves with a calm sea, then an ethereal melody soars like a mermaid chant and leads to “Marine Extravaganza”, an excellent, powerful instrumental track that could recall Emerson, Lake & Palmer and contains a quote from King Crimson’s “Red”. Then “Runaway” tells in music and words of a disquieting dream, a desperate effort to escape from the chase of mysterious men in black, dark shadows of your past haunting you and alrming your senses. The short, nightmarish “Marine Coda” closes the suite with David Jackson’s sax in the forefront. 
 

 
“The Schooner” opens the second side of the album and starts by a sumptuous passage of church-like organ, then the rhythm rises for an adventurous voyage through Poseidon’s territory. The sea air is deceptive and you must not rely on your eyes to assess the distances... The title refers to a type of sailing vessel popular on both sides of the Atlantic in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The following “Ridge Fanfare” is another piece in debt with EL&P that seems to invite you to a joyful ride through the waves while the final track, “Time, Life Again”, recalls Yes and evokes in music and words the imaginary course of a flying ship flowing forever in time upon the sea, towards the sun, through the fire, in search for an island of peace... 
 
On the whole, a very good album for symphonic prog lovers! 
 
You can listen to the complete album HERE
 
More info:



Wednesday, 24 February 2021

A THUNDERING SILENCE

 Quel che non dici is the first full length album by Sicilian band ArcaMiri and it was released in 2019 with a consolidated line up featuring Vincenzo Arisco (drums), Peppe Capodieci (bass), Simona Minniti (vocals, synthesizers) and Ivan Ricciardi (piano, synthesizers). It confirms all the good qualities of their previous debut EP, Contatto (2018), with an elegant mix of classical influences, avant-garde, jazz and progressive rock sprinkled with a touch of electronica and various Mediterranean flavours that could recall different bands and artists such as Opus Avantra, Matia Bazar or Franco Battiato...


 


The opener “L’adesso” (Right now) blends electronica and rock and every now and again could recall the clever early eighties synth pop of Matia Bazar. It’s a disquieting piece where the music and lyrics evoke the painful contrast between illusions and reality and the need to clash against the obstacles of life to understand where is the good and the evil...


The title track, “Quel che non dici” (What you don’t say), starts by a delicate piano passage and deals with the difficulty to express your inner feelings and the effort to hide your troubles from the eyes of the world. The music and lyrics here conjure up the image of a thundering silence that rages like a hurricane under your skin, echoing in the void and slowly killing you...





The dark “Inquietudo” (Restlessness) alternates narrative, theatrical vocals and high pitched, obliques melodies while the music and the poetical lyrics depict a path closed in a circle and a vortex of words, a mysterious shape wandering in a labyrinth of inner troubles and the silent, desperate screams of a woman searching for peace...

The bittersweet “Ballata (di una vecchia puttana)” (Ballad of an old whore) draws the portray of a woman hardened by a difficult life who doesn’t long for redemption but is tired to be judged by people and to get hurt by poisonous tongues and self-righteous looks...



“Piove” (It rains) starts with a nervous drum solo and blends frenzied passages and calmer, melancholic parts where the soaring, operatic vocals evoke a fall of painful memories and obscure desires...

The delicate, dreamy lieder “Dentro una goccia” (Inside a drop) closes the album describing a metaphorical journey inside a drop of dew falling down from the sky where you’re just waiting for a miracle, searching for your lost time, beyond tears and regrets, until the earth swallows your ethereal body...

On the whole, a very good album, challenging and full of nuances, but that needs more than a spin to be completely appreciated...

Have a try! You can listen to the complete album HERE

More info:
https://www.facebook.com/arcamiri/



Monday, 8 February 2021

AWESOME LYSERGIC DREAM INNOVATION

Hailing from Ravenna, Aldi dallo Spazio came to life in 2015 with the aim of blending together different musical influences. According to the band, the first part of the name is the acronym of Awesome Lysergic Dream Innovation but psychedelia and space rock are only two of the many elements of their sound that draws inspiration also from seventies classic rock and Italian prog bands such as PFM or Procession. In 2017 the band digitally self released a first version of their debut album entitled Quasar with a line up featuring Dario Federici (vocals, keyboards), Simone Sgarzi (guitar), Davide Mosca (guitar), Marco Braschi (bass) and Lorenzo Guardigli (drums) plus the guest Marco Zoli (sax) on two tracks. In 2019 the album was remixed, remastered and re-released on the independent label Jolly Roger Records. The art work by Federico Espositi tries to capture the spirit of the musical content with a painting that represents the Big Mother, responsible of creation and destruction... 
 
 

The opener “Long Time Lover” starts with a charming crescendo and a rhythm of bolero that progressively veers to a kind of electric tarantella that could recall PFM. The central part is closer to classic rock while the lyrics tell of a complex relationship, a spell that binds two lovers in an endless embrace of love and pain, joys and fears, dreams and tears. It takes time to understand the strange laws of this mutual, fatal attraction... 
 
The epic “The Distance” starts softly with a dreamy, ethereal atmosphere while the vocals remind me slightly of Procession’s debut album. The music and lyrics evoke a kind of spiritual, psychedelic journey through space and time. Far away, beyond the light and the horizon you have to search for your roots to understand who are you... Some narrative parts in Romagnol dialect and Italian add a particular touch of colour evoking old songs soaring from the past and mystical landscapes on the banks of the unknown... 
 

 
“Little Piggy Will” describes a peculiar hazy dream crowded with strange characters, floating sensations, touches of psychedelia and exotic Oriental flavours while the following “Santana (A Freedom Song)”, tells of a kind of quest for peace and love with a nice, colourful choice of sounds on the border between jazz, progressive and Latin rhythms... 
 
The long “Epiphany” opens with the voice of Bertrand Russell, a short excerpt from a 1959 interview with BBC where the philosopher gives an advice to future generations, wise words that are still valid today: “I should like to say two things, one intellectual and one moral... Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe, or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed but look only, and solely, at what are the facts... I should say love is wise, hatred is foolish. In this world which is getting more and more closely interconnected we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don't like... We must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet...”. Then, as the music takes the listener on a trip to the dark side of the moon, the reflective lyrics invite you to look in the mirror and search for something worth to live for... 
 
Aldi dallo Spazio 2018

 
After a short break, the CD version features an untitled ghost track that begins by the sound of the sea waves and a strummed acoustic guitar pattern. It’s a delicate, introspective ballad sung in Italian where the dreamy vocals evoke inner gods and the indefinite sound of immensity... A good conclusion for an album that is really worth listening to! 
 
You can listen to the complete album HERE
 
More info: