Monday, 13 February 2017

AN EVIL BEAST

Borrello is a beautiful small town in the province of Chieti in the Abruzzo region, near the border with the province of Isernia in Molise. Nearby you can visit a natural park with the highest waterfalls in the Apennines, le Cascate del Verde. Here, in the middle of these magnificent panoramas, in the late seventies, five young friends in love with progressive rock music formed a band called the Sfaratthons, a word derived from the local dialect that can be loosely translated as "the idlers". The first line up of the band featured Cecilio Luciano (drums, vocals), Giovanni Di Nunzio (guitar, sax, vocals), Mario Rosato (keyboards), Bruno Di Nunzio (bass) and Luca Luciano (vocals, guitar). With the help of another friend, lyricist Argentino D'Auro, they started to work on a rock opera dealing with environmental issues entitled La bestia umana. Unfortunately, the band never managed to release an album during their early days and eventually split up in the eighties.


In 2011 some of the old members reunited with the idea of making an old dream come true. With a renewed line up featuring Cecilio Luciano (drums), Giovanni Di Nunzio (lead vocals, guitar, sax), Luca Di Nunzio (keyboards, guitar, vocals), Giovanni Casciato (bass, guitar) and Mario Di Nunzio (bass), the Sfaratthons started to work again on their old compositions. Another original member, Luca Luciano (Facebook), is now an appreciated painter and took charge of the art work while lyricist Argentino D'Auro wrote a book about the concept of the album and the history of the band... During the recording sessions the band was helped by some guest musicians such as Geoff Warren (flute), Berardo Adenolfi (guitar) and Giovanni Ferrari (sax) that contributed to enrich the sound. The album was finally completed and self-released in 2016 and I think it's really worth listening to. The music and lyrics are able to convey emotions and there's a vintage atmosphere that could recall some Italian album from the seventies...


The instrumental opener "Overture" is like a kind of time machine that takes you back in time. Imagine to dive in a sea of green grass in a foggy September morning... There are evocative vintage sounds and quiet pastoral atmospheres that could recall bands such as PFM or Blocco Mentale. Now you are surrounded by a still uncontaminated nature...

"La bestia umana" (The human beast) begins by what seems like a child's lament, a disquieting guitar arpeggio and swirling flute notes, then a marching beat and the voice of Giovanni Di Nunzio introduce a strange kind of evil animal, Mankind! Indeed, here the music and lyrics depict the human madness and its consequences: self-conceit, ruthlessness, disrespect and a fatal overestimation of the power of science lead to a natural disaster... The calm middle section conjure up the gloomy atmosphere of the day after while the drum beat of the final section come as a kind of funeral march.

The heartfelt, committed "Civiltà perduta" (Lost civilization) is a bitter complaint against human greediness and vanity. Men run after dreams of power and deceiving spectres that made them blind and unscrupulous, hate and terror become their myths, remnants of a civilization that celebrated its deadly rites to the gods of pride and stupidity. The bright sun of progress led men on a dangerous path and condemned them to doom, arid deserts now cover the land that once was green and blooming...


The delicate, dreamy "La dolce illusione" (The sweet illusion) is a sad, tormented reflection about a generation who lost every hope and now lives in the sweet illusion of a better future. It leads to the following "Smog" a frenzied track that describes in music and words the threatening shadow of a black, venomous cloud. You can feel here fear, anxiety and a sense of helplessness in front of another impending tragedy.

"Il verde" (Green) begins by hard electric guitar riffs and an almost martial pace. Then, melancholic vocals describe the systematic destruction of the forests, allowed by indifference and by political inertia. Men keep on committing the same errors condemning themselves to death... A bitter-sweet requiem to Mother Nature!


Next comes "Life In A Prison" a track that, despite the English title, is sung in Italian. It tells about the hypocrisy of artificial paradises built on sufferance and exploitation, chains and violence. You have to look for a way out... The music and lyrics of the dramatic "Epilogo" (Epilogue) seem to invoke the help of an extraterrestrial race, more evolute and wiser than humankind, just before the fatal return to naught.

Too late! "Dopo" (After) is a melancholic piano ballad that depicts a gloomy landscape made of lunar deserts... What have we done? The marching beat and a celestial choir evoke a sad farewell to humankind. The short closer "Uomo" (Man) features narrative vocals and poetical lyrics. It's just a final warning about an impending danger that maybe we are not able to see...

All in all, this is very interesting work, a labour of love that deserves a try!

You can listen to the complete album on deezer or spotify.

More info:





Wednesday, 21 December 2016

SONGS FROM THE ALPS

The John Silver Band began life in Belluno in 2005 with a line up formed by Gianni Carlin (vocals, flute, xylophone), Emmanuele Burigo (electric and acoustic guitar), Federico Bassanello (bass) and Fabrizio Gaspari (drums, glockenspiel). The band split up in 2011, after a good live activity on the local scene and a self-released debut album entitled La luce che muore nel buio (2009) featuring funny, sarcastic lyrics and an overall sound influenced by Jethro Tull, Frank Zappa, blues-rock and psychedelia...




Three years later, in 2014 Gianni Carlin and Emmanuele Burigo started a new project with a rhythm section formed by Antonio Nabari (bass, glockenspiel) and Enrico Tormen (drums) carrying on their previous band's legacy. The name of the new band is Campo Magnetico (Magnetic field) and in 2016 they home-recorded and self-released an interesting debut album entitled Li vuoi quei kiwi? (Do you want those kiwis?). In everyday life magnetic fields are most often encountered as a force created by permanent magnets, which pull on ferromagnetic materials and attract or repel other magnets. Well, in this case the permanent magnets are the hard, raw rhythm section on one side and the clean, soaring notes of the flute on the other side and the nine instrumental tracks on the album draw all their strength from the contrast between the two opposite poles...


The opener "Pane da guardia" (Watch-bread) sets the atmosphere. The pace is slow and heavy, distorted electric guitar riffs lead the march as a storm of iron butterflies fly around. Then the soaring notes of the flute bring in light melodies and songs from the woods... Can you get the picture?

The following "La fiera di Düsseldorf" (Düsseldorf Fair) begins by an experimental section where the voice is used as an instrument and the band seem free to improvise but uncertain about what direction take. Well, Gianni Carlin is not Demetrio Stratos and nothing is easy here. Luckily the experiment is not too long and on the second part of the piece the band stand up, the rhythm takes off and the flute begins to cry you a song...

Campo Magnetico 2016

The long "Sabbia di cammelli di sabbia" (Sand of camels of sand) in my opinion is the weakest track of the lot. Here at times the musicians seem to play almost casually mixing wordless nursery rhymes and oriental flavours but the results are not always convincing and they risk get stuck in the quicksands of boredom...

The lively "Perché hai il fiatone John?" (Why are you getting out of breath John?) is definitely better, even if it doesn't shine for originality. It leads to the short, dreamy "Buccia di pesce" (Fish skin) where the rhythm calms down for a rest before the ride under the stars of the hypnotic "Appuntamento al buio" (Randez-vous in the dark).


"L'osso dell'albero" (The bone of the tree) is another good track that recalls early Jethro Tull as the following "Sig. Tartaruga" (Mr. Turtle) that alternates surges of energy and slower passages. The closer "La tua ciabatta focosa" (Your fiery slipper) starts with electric guitar riffs that remind me of Black Sabbath. This track could describe in a very funny way a kind of parasitical couch potato... But the interpretation of the music is up to you!

On the whole, this an interesting, home-grown album with a strong vintage atmosphere. The sound quality might not be one of the best and personally I think that the use of a Hammond organ could have improved the final result but I enjoyed it anyway.

However, give it a try and judge for yourselves. You can listen to the complete album HERE

More info: