Sunday, 10 September 2017

SOLEMN READING

Ecfonetica come from the province of Viterbo and took shape in 2014 on the south banks of Bolsena Lake when composers Stefano Calandrelli (organ, piano, synth) and Walter Possieri (guitars, bass, drums, percussion, keyboards) teamed up to work on original material inspired by classical music and modern sounds. The name of the band comes from ancient Greek and means solemn reading: according to their website, the band chose it because it refers to the need of giving a graphical form to sounds and music. In 2015 Ecfonetica self-released an interesting debut album entitled Voci where they mix classical music, progressive rock and touches of post-rock with gusto and lightness.



The opener “Taranta” starts softly and is marked by the contrast between distorted electric guitar and piano. Then the rhythm rises and drives you through disquieting atmospheres and infernal dances. The following “Ad libitum” is calm and dreamy, almost ethereal with its light, slow pace and its soaring melodic patterns.

Meloria” is a beautiful piece that alternates moments of calm to stormy, aggressive passages. The title refers to a rocky islet, surrounded by a shoal, off the Tuscan coast, in the Ligurian Sea, near Livorno. The music in some way evokes echoes and ghosts of the Battle of Meloria fought on 5 and 6 August 1284 between the fleets of the Republics of Genoa and Pisa...



The dreamy “Quando” (When) leads to the short, martial “Passi” (Steps), then it’s the time of the mysterious “Oltre” (Beyond) where organ waves and piano passages every now and again remind me of some instrumental works by Le Orme.

On “Voci” (Voices) a beautiful melody soars slowly from background noises like a daydream from the daily grind of real life. The second part of this piece sounds like a magic, esoteric dance and contrasts with the next track, the short, classical inspired “Dolce ostinato”.


The last two tracks “Donna, donna, donna...” (Woman, woman, wman) and “Toccata” are two solo compositions, respectively by Walter Possieri and Stefano Calandrelli and they could be almost considered as bonus tracks…

You can listen to the complete album HERE


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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

COPS, PIN-UPS AND MANIACS

Strato's is a musical project based in Parma that came to life in 2015 when five young musicians in love with the music and atmospheres of the Italian B-movies of the seventies joined their forces to play covers taken from the soundtracks of those films and original pieces inspired by artists such as Ennio Morricone, Franco Micalizzi, Piero Piccioni, Bruno Nicolai, Riz Ortolani, Goblin, Osanna, Carlo Rustichelli, Frizzi-Bixio-Tempera, Calibro 35 and others. The name of the band refers to The Lancia Stratos, a sports car and rally car very popular and successful in the seventies and the line up features Leonardo Barbieri (electric and acoustic guitar), Marco Mainardi (bass), Davide Sandrini (drums), Emanuele Nidi (electric organ, string machine, piano), Luis Pezzoli (percussion). After a good live activity on the local scene, in 2016 they released an interesting debut album on Retro Vox Records entitled Lo sbirro, la liceale, il maniaco (The cop, the high-school girl, the maniac), a tribute to the Italian cinema di genere of the seventies, in particular to poliziotteschi, sexy comedies and thriller/horror B-movies as suggested by the beautiful art cover by Matteo Xulli.


The album is divided in three parts, each one with three tracks. The first three tracks were inspired by the Italian crime films full of action, car chases and gunfights also known as poliziotteschi. The opener, "La Soffiata" (The leak) features some excerpts of dialogues taken from the film Roma a mano armata (The Tough Ones) directed by Umberto Lenzi. It starts with the call of an informer to the police. Pulsing bass lines pump tension and adrenaline... Then the rhythm rises swinging from frenzied funky rides to more calm, reflective moments. The following "Western metropolitano" (Metropolitan Western) and "Irruzione a Monteverde" (Irruption in Monteverde) are in the same vein and you can imagine bloody scenes and breathtaking chases through the streets of Rome or Milan...


The second part is dedicated to sexy comedy and the atmosphere are more relaxed. "Apertitivo" (Appetizer) is introduced by an excerpt from the film A tutte le auto della polizia (Calling All Police Cars), directed in 1975 by Mario Caiano. The atmosphere is suggestive and relaxed with a touch of mystery in the background. A short excerpt taken from the advertisement of an Italian beer leads to the light-hearted "Un goffo pretendente" (A clumsy pretender) featuring a lively beat and funny melodic lines played by Luca Cristofori on kazoo. "Rossella" (featuring the seducing vocals of the guest Rossella Finardi) closes the trilogy dedicated to eros and drives us to thanatos...

Strato's 2016

The last part of the album is dedicated to the dark, tense atmospheres of the Italian horror/thriller films made famous by directors such as Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci. "Chipsiomega" is a clear tribute to Dario Argento's film Profond Rosso (Deep Red) and to its soundtrack by Goblin. In fact, Chipsiomega was the temporary title of Profondo Rosso... This piece is an authentic ride through recurrent nightmares and hidden fears and features also some excerpts from the film Solamente Nero (The Bloodstained Shadow) directed by Antonio Bido in 1978. The disquieting "Delirio paranoide" (Paranoid delirium) and the melancholic closer "Titoli di coda" (Credits) complete the scene full of wild energy and delicate surprises.

On the whole, a very good album that is really worth listening to.

You can listen to the complete album HERE


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Sunday, 18 June 2017

RIVERS AND CASTLES

Ellesmere is mainly the brainchild of Roberto Vitelli, bass and guitar player from the Roman prog band Taproban. In 2014 he gathered around him some prestigious guest musicians to play his compositions and in 2015 released an interesting debut album on AMS Records. It's entitled Les Châteaux de la Loire and it's a charming work where acoustic, pastoral atmospheres prevail. The line up features Roberto Vitelli (Takamine 6 strings classic, Eko Ranger 12 strings, Fender "Geddy Lee" jazz bass, Fender Stratocaster, E-Bow, Moog Taurus III), John Hackett (flute), Anthony Phillips (narrative vocals), Daniele Pomo (drums, percussions), Luciano Regoli (vocals), Giulia Nuti (violin, viola), Pietro Horvath (cello), Linda Giuntini (horn), Fabio Bonuglia (Mellotron M 400, Moog Model D, keyboards), Paolo Carnelli (electric piano, keyboards, acoustic piano), Danilo Mintrone (strings arrangement) and Dario Esposito (drums).

Roberto Vitelli during the recording sessions

The main course of the album is the title track, a wonderful, dreamy thirty-eight minute suite divided into eleven parts. It was inspired to Roberto Vitelli by a holiday he spent in France and starts with the narrative vocals provided by former Genesis member Anthony Phillips who reads some verses taken from Lines Written On Visiting The Châteaux On The Loire, a poem by Alfred Austin. Just close your eyes and let the music flow and show you some pondering pictures of the vast panorama of the past... In fact, the Loire Valley is studded with over a thousand châteaux, each with distinct architectural characteristics covering a wide range of variations, from the early medieval to the late Renaissance periods. 


Some sections of the suite are dedicated to some specific castles, amazing monuments of heart and mind such as Sully-sur-Loire, Meung-sur-Loire, Blois, Chambord and Chaumont-sur-Loire while the other sections mark the passages from one place to another as thoughts and feelings get mixed in an intermittent dream, cradled by the river waters. No need for words: except the narrative vocals that open and close the suite there are no lyrics and even the beautiful voice of Luciano Regoli is used here just as an instrument to add colours and emotions. By the way, Luciano Regoli (singer from Raccomandata con Ricevuta di Ritorno, Samadhi, DGM) is also a talented painter and took charge of the wonderful art cover that probably depicts the atmosphere of this album better than all my words...


The last two pieces are credited as bonus tracks but they are not fillers at all. The mysterious, dark "The Ancient Samovar" tells in music and words about the almost magic power of an ancient samovar, a heated metal container traditionally used to heat and boil water in and around Russia as well as in other countries. Thanks to the thaumaturgic properties of its tea you can relax even in a silent, troubled night, waiting for the sun with a renewed feeling of hope... The closer "Wintry Afternoon" is a beautiful, melancholic instrumental track with the notes of an acoustic piano in the forefront the the sound of the wind in the background.


On the whole a very good album!

Ellesmere: Les Châteaux de la Loire (2015). Other opinions:
Thomas Szirmay: The music is highly atmospheric, gentle and sweet background music that has no pretensions other than to deliver sumptuous melodies, played with restrained passion and obvious enjoyment... (read he complete review HERE)

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