Saturday, 26 November 2011


Filoritmia are an Italian prog band from Milan that have been active since 1993. Anyway, it was only in 1997 that the band found the ideal line up, when Roberto Riccardi (guitars) and Matteo Scarparo (bass), joined the historical nucleus formed by Angelo D’Ariano (keyboards), Antonio Mazzucchelli (drums) and Giorgio Mele (vocals). In September 2000, after many years of live performances and pauses dedicated to composition, Filoritmia released their first eponymous album, completely self-produced but featuring an excellent recording quality. All along the album tracks you can find a wide range of sources of inspiration (from classic prog bands like PFM, BMS and Genesis to funky and jazz) but the song-writing is always fresh, original and the result is definitively good.

“There’s a man who’s walking on my tongue...”... The opener “Al buio” (In the dark) begins like a nursery rhyme soaring from a carillon but after two minutes the music turns into a more dramatic mood. The song was inspired by the worming feeling of racism spreading all over Italy after the first waves of illegal immigration in the nineties and tries to shout out the necessity to keep open your mind to different cultures: in the dark you can’t perceive the differences in the colour of the skin... “Will the time come at last, when people are not compelled to turn off the light to understand they are all human beings?”.

“Rapporto occasionale” (Chance meeting) is another great track featuring vintage sounds that swing from mellow symphonic to hard rock. The lyrics are about the difficulties to communicate with unknown people because of our hidden fears. According to the band “the music tries to express this idea of deep uneasiness: sudden changes in rhythm and an upbeat-based melody which makes the first listening hard and unnatural...”.

“Il mago” (The Wizard) is a “charming” mini suite featuring evocative vocal parts and excellent instrumental breaks. It reminds me every now and again of some works of BMS but the music is original and the sound is up to date. The lyrics deal with the charm of words, sweet and easy promises, disillusion and broken dreams... “Come with me, I’m the wizard!”. Definitely one of my favourites tracks on this album!

“Fiato sul collo” (Breath on the neck) is a long, complex track featuring shifting tempos and an excellent guitar solo finale. The lyrics are about the urge to run away from what we don’t know and unconsciously fear, because sometimes ill fantasies compel us to prey and  “blindly jump” forward...

“La mappa del tempo” (The map of time) is simpler, light and fresh. It features a funky and swinging mood while the ironic lyrics deal with a way of life without any plans for the future...

“Dirti di no” (Saying no to you) is an interesting track that blends reggae patterns to “classic progressive rock” parts with the keyboards in the forefront . “I want tyres for exceptional performances / And the sensuality of a man who never needs to ask...”. The lyrics are sarcastic and according to the band this is “a song full of rage that expresses a strong intolerance towards a deep-rooted inclination to superficiality...”.

“Per essere felici” (To be happy) is a very good symphonic track featuring a dramatic mood. The lyrics have been inspired by a poem of Fernando Pessoa and are about the meaning of happiness.

 “Questo inferno” (This hell) begins with a delicate piano arpeggio, then an obsessive bass line brings in an atmosphere of uneasiness. The song is about depression and, according to the band, here “the music is meant to create a dreadful, gloomy atmosphere”. All along the nine minutes of this piece you can appreciate the excellent musicianship of the band and their ability to create original musical patterns.

“Anima” (Soul) is a melodic ballad full of energy that reminds me of some recent works of I Nomadi (with Danilo Sacco on vocals). The lyrics try to describe a kind of quest for the true sense of life where melancholy is just “a mask of fire burning out one’s feelings...”.

The last track “Epoca lontana” (Long time ago) reminds me every now and again of BMS and PFM. The lyrics are about alcohol addiction and the music underlines the moments of crises described by the lyrics...

On the whole an excellent album without weak moments all along more than seventy minutes of music. I really hope that this album could be re-released and adequately promoted in the future. In the meantime it can be legally downloaded for free from the official website of the band, so have a try and judge by yourselves! Click HERE

Read the interview with Filoritmia on Progarchives. Click HERE

More info:

Monday, 21 November 2011


RanestRane (the name means Strange Frogs) are an Italian prog band from Rome that was formed in 1996. The line up features Daniele Pomo (vocals, drums, percussion, keyboards), Massimo Pomo (electric and acoustic guitars), Riccardo Romano (keyboards, harmonium, moog) and Maurizio Meo (bass). The aim of the musicians involved in this project was to compose and perform a “rock-opera”, so they chose a famous Werner Herzog’s film, “Nosferatu the Vampyre”, and commented it with music and original lyrics. They started their live activity in 2000 and conceived their shows as a “cine-concerto”, with the images of Werner Herzog’s film flowing in the background. In 2006 they released their rock opera on a self-produced studio double album.


Well, in 2005 another (prog) rock opera about vampires was released by PFM and a comparison is due... In my opinion both works mix prog elements with a strong melodic flavour and are in some way complementary: if you like the subject matter and PFM’s “Dracula” I’m sure you will love this good and elaborate work too. “Nosferatu il Vampiro” is conceived as a long suite in two parts that can be appreciated also without images. The music flows steady without really weak moments alternating changes in rhythm and gloomy atmospheres to light, intense melodies. The beautiful art cover reproduces a painting by Caspar David Friedrich called “Cloister Cemetery in the snow” and it perfectly fits the overall mood of the album. The vocal parts featuring original lyrics are intertwined with fragments of the film dialogues that contribute to keep up the tension... “I had a dream my love / But it’s so strange / That I cannot remember it...”.

On the whole a good album with a peculiar feeling and a touch of originality that differentiates this work from others and make it “unique”.

RanestRane: Nosferatu il Vampiro (2006). Other opinions:
Paul Fowler: The album sits largely at the symphonic side of Italian prog with a strong emphasis on melodic songwriting. For such a project it may have been expected that a more instrumental approach with lots of atmospherics may have been a more obvious way forward, so it perhaps will come as a surprise that although these elements are present it's an album based more on the song. The more atmospheric moments tend to occur more when underscoring the film dialogue and while this will no doubt work well in the live arena with the film projected in the background, I find myself feeling a little detached at these moments... (Read the complete review HERE)

After the promising 2006 debut, in 2011 RanestRane released another self-produced double album conceived as a cine-concerto. This time the starting point is The Shining, a 1980 psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson in the role of Jack Torrance. The film is based on the 1977 novel of the same name by Stephen King and is set in an isolated hotel in the mountains of Colorado. It tells the story of a man who tries to murder his wife and his son but the line between the supernatural and the psychotic is blurred... What, exactly, is impelling Jack Torrance toward murder in the winter- isolated rooms and hallways of the Overlook Hotel? Is it undead people, or undead memories? Mr. Kubrick and I came to different conclusions... but perhaps those different conclusions are, in fact, the same. For aren’t memories the true ghosts of our lives? Do they not drive all of us to words and acts we regret from time to time? (Stephen King from the introduction to the 2001  Pocket Books Edition of the novel).

“I’m an engine rediscovering the limits... I’m rediscovering the effort, and the bruises...”. The lyrics depict a damned diary of insanity, a mind that gives in under the weight of the snow, drinking the waters of oblivion... The melodic sung parts alternate with evocative instrumental passages and some excerpts from the dialogues of the film with a very good result. The music is more aggressive than in the band’s debut work and sometimes tension hangs over you like a cloud full of black rain, pregnant, ready to burst. But in other moments the music becomes soft and sweet and mellow, following you down into a deeper sleep where thought ceases and the faces that come in dreams go unremembered... “You’ll savor the waters of oblivion! / Hedges and corridors, bright red all around...”.

Well, I like very much both the novel and the film. In my opinion the musical and lyrical interpretation of RanestRane is quite good as well... The packaging is excellent too and the art cover reproduces a painting by Zdzislaw Beksinski that perfectly fits the mood of this work.

RanestRane: Shining (2011). Other opinions:
Jim Russell: In describing their sound I would say they mix together elements of classy symphonic, Hogarth-era Marillion, and a touch of the legendary Italian band Goblin in spirit. Their sound is clean and highly expressive and their playing impeccable. Filled with melody and foggy atmospherics, the moods and pace vary greatly from high energy rock with loud lead guitar to soft, trance like passages. Spoken word dialogue from the film seeps through. Basically the band is taking you for a long ride designed specifically to coincide with the film you are watching... (read the complete review HERE).

More info about the band:

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


I Treni All’Alba are a prog band from the north western Italy that began life between Aosta and Turin in 2003. The line up features Paolo Carlotto (acoustic and electric guitar), Daniele Pierini (acoustic and electric guitar), Sabino Pace (piano and keyboards) and Felice Sciscioli (drums and percussion). All the members are experienced musicians with different influences that managed to shape an amazing blend of folk and progressive rock. In 2008 they released their first full length album “Folk Destroyers” on the independent label Smartz Records. The album was recorded with the help of some guest musicians that contributed to enrich the sparkling sound of the band by adding counter bass, flutes, sax, congas, trumpet, violin, accordion and many other musical colours.

“Watch TV, buy, obey the authorities, do not think, do believe in the collective truth, no ideas, no imagination...” . The only vocal parts on this album are some ominous warnings freely taken from “They Live”, a 1988 film directed by John Carpenter where aliens rule on the world thanks to TV broadcasts and mass media. The music flows away as if in a long suite where quiet acoustic and folkloric passages melt in fiery percussion rides and vice versa. Some sources of inspiration could be found in the album “Anime salve” by Fabrizio De André, there are also reminders of samba, tarantella, Ravel, Piazzolla, Le Orme and PFM... The single tracks have no titles but each track is described in the beautiful booklet with a drawing by Domenico Sorrenti.

Some words taken from a book by the Italian writer Stefano Benni that you can find in the booklet could describe the right approach to this work: “We should always feel as we are leaving the next day, or like we have just got back. Everything becomes more precious: what we leave and what we find. To hear the tiny voice of hope, beyond the screams of pain. Hope, it could be interesting to come in a train station to find it...”. The name of the band, I Treni All’Alba, means the trains at dawn... Well, on the whole an excellent starting point!

In 2011 the band released a sophomore album titled “2011 A.D.” on the independent label INRI. As in their previous work the line up features Paolo Carlotto (acoustic and electric guitar, guitarra de coimbra), Daniele Pierini (acoustic and electric guitar, tuba nad trombone synth), Sabino Pace (piano and synth) and Felice Sciscioli (drums) but in the studio this time they were helped only by Francesco Vittori (bass) and Ramon Moro (flugelhorn). The subtitle of this work is “L’apocalisse della porta accanto” (Next door apocalypse) and according to the band the beautiful art cover by their friend Domenico Sorrenti, a painter often involved in musical performances, depicts in a perfect and harmonic way the “concept” of the album.

Well, while I’m writing these lines in the Italian media you can find many images of floods and raging waters ravaging the coast and the cities of Liguria. There is a strange resemblance between the album cover and the landscape of Le Cinque Terre... On the colourful, suggestive art cover you can see the fury of the elements raging on the seashore, the houses the village are deformed and you can see their facades showing feelings. Men are nothing but ghosts, lost souls... 

After an excellent acoustic guitar intro close your eyes and imagine Attila climbing up from hell, leading his Huns. They come up cautiously, then they began to dance savouring chaos and destruction... Well the second track of the album, “Attila”, could be a just metaphor to describe a man who has lost every respect for the environment...

The title of the next track “L’arte della guerra” (The art of war) recalls one of the oldest and most successful books about military strategy, attributed to the Chinese strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu. It’s strange how men can be clever and inventive when they plan to wage war on their fellow men and how they can be vain, ineffective when they have to prevent the fury of mother nature...  

There are demons riding the waves... The complex , dramatic “Il demone” (The demon) seems to describe the dance of our fears before judgement day. “L’apocalisse” (The apocalypse) is another beautiful track where you can imagine light and dark clashing with a cathartic force...
The title of “Tempi moderni?” (Modern times?) recalls a famous film directed by Charlie Chaplin in 1936, Modern Times. The beginning of this track is slow, almost dark. Is this progress? What are the consequences of modernity? What will we endure until the end of the world? Here the sound of the electric guitar seems to announce hard times, then the rhythm raises and makes itself into a frenzy. Then on “Fino alla fine... del mondo” (Until the end... of the world) you can hear the echoes of a surreal tango led by the Grim Reaper...

“Distrettotredici” (Precinct 13) recalls the title of a 1976 film directed by John Carpenter, “Assault on Precinct 13”. It could be a perfect score for an action movie where the protagonists play with death. The conclusive “Streghe” (Witches) features a folkloric, colourful atmosphere where you can imagine some mocking witches who are merrily dancing on a simple tune before they unveil their rage and cruelty on the fiery finale.
Well, the album is completely instrumental and I don’t know if my interpretation of the concept is correct. Nonetheless the music is amazing, some Mediterranean folkloric elements are blended with other influences giving you plenty of hints and suggestions. Listen to the music and imagine what you want but for sure this is an album that deserves more than a spin...

I Treni all'Alba: 2011 A.D. (2011). Other opinions:
Jim Russell: I Treni All'Alba from Torino are one of Italy's finest bands regardless of how you choose to categorize their eclectic instrumental brew. Their second album is a continuation of their fine debut and if anything may be stronger. These guys are just incredible players! They take folk music appreciation and turn it right on its head. Melodic acoustic numbers are performed by guys who have the prowess of jazz-fusion dudes, then they throw it at you with the energy of a sweaty punk band. That's not to say they can't be gentle and nuanced, for they have that covered too. They have near-perfect instincts for balancing their lively concoction and keeping the listener somewhere between headbanging and eyes-closed bliss... (read the complete review HERE)
Conor Fynes:  I could say that '2011 A.D.' lacks the hooks to become instantly memorable and enjoyable, but the musicianship and warmth of the textures that this band uses are enough to carry me over to the point where the music is familiar enough to enjoy, hooks irregardless. An excellent album... (read the complete review HERE)

Friday, 4 November 2011


Sophya Baccini is a sensitive Italian artist from Naples who has been for many years the singer of a band called Presence (by the way, don’t miss the interview with Presence on progarchives that you can find HERE). In 2009 she released her first solo album, “Aradia”, on the independent label Black Widow Records. The album was recorded with the help of some collaborators as Vittorio Cataldi (violin, accordion), Franco Ponzo (guitars) and Pino Falgiano (keyboards) while some prestigious guest musicians as Martin Grice (Delirium), Lino Vairetti (Osanna) and Stefano Vicarelli (Fonderia) contributed to enrich the sound. Sophya Baccini composed the music, wrote the lyrics, played the piano and synthesizers and, of course, sung...

This work features a long suite in 13 parts, three other tracks and a Joni Mithcell’s cover, “Circle game”. The suite is a kind of musical and spiritual path describing the friendship between two women, Aradia and Elide, and its importance for the way of life and the full self realisation of the protagonist Aradia. According to some sources, Aradia is the name of the messianic daughter of the goddess Diana and the god Lucifer, who was sent to Earth in order to teach the oppressed peasants how to perform witchcraft to use against the Roman Catholic Church and the upper class [1]. I don’t know if Sophya deliberately chose the name of a witch as a title for this album, but in the past some witches were just wiser and cleverer women than average in a world ruled by men...

The music is extremely heterogeneous with influences ranging from jazz to classical, from Piazzolla to Jethro Tull, but the thread that keeps the single parts of the suite together is my opinion is very thin and the blending is not always convincing. Some passages are absolutely brilliant, like the charming overture “La pietra”, the unquiet and dreamy “Don’t Dream That Dream” or the melodic and sumptuous “Elide”. Other parts are less good as “Ever Too Small” which seems coming out from a Diana Krall’s album or the melodramatic duet with Lino Vairetti “Non è l’amore il tuo destino”.

“Aradia” contains many good moments, but in my opinion it’s like if some parts were put in the wrong place... The voice of Sophya is beautiful, powerful and melodic, but listeners have to jump from one thing to another and, at length, even the outstanding tracks are in some way diluted by the excess of different musical ideas and risk to lose their charm. The lyrics are hermetic to say the least, in part written in Italian, in part in English and in part in French... This doesn’t help to comprehend the “concept” and there are no liner notes in the booklet to explain it. Luckily on Progarchives the artist gives us some clues about the concept in a very interesting interview: -  I took it all like a vision, and I invented this female figure that moves among different moods and different times. It’s a story of a physical and spiritual journey. That’s why I used different languages – I sung in English, Italian, French - and different musical genres - Prog, Blues, Country, Rock, some Pop like Elton John - all tied together by symphonic arrangements...

Sophya Baccini

Well, on the whole I think that “Aradia” a good album, but not an essential one in a prog collection. I'm sure that such a sensitive and gifted artist can do better...

Sophya Baccini: Aradia (2009). Other opinions
Assaf Vestin: I think this album could be a hit, had the circumstances been different. While it can be challenging music at times and demanding a longer-than-usual attention span, it is a gorgeous and ambitious piece of emotional and melodic melancholic songs. Sophya's voice is beautiful and quite wide in range (from mid to high pitch). Her musical skills are of the same quality, if not higher... To listen to Aradia for me, is to be taken to foreign landscapes, to be transported on the graceful wings of Sophya's voice and the charm of her music. I find the best way for me to experience this album is in a mostly dark room late at night with headphones. The magic really comes forth in that setting... (read the complete review HERE)
Raffaella Benvenuto-Berry: A finely-crafted, deeply personal album, "Aradia" will undoubtedly appeal to fans of female voices, especially those who do not mind a touch of operatic grandiosity with their music. On the whole, a very promising solo debut from one of the best female vocalists on the current prog scene, and a worthwhile addition to the ever-growing roster of interesting new Italian bands and artists... (read the complete review HERE)

You can read the complete interview with Sophya Baccini at Progarchives HERE.  

More info:

[1] Aradia is one of the principal figures in the American folklorist Charles Leland’s 1899 work Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches, which he believed to be a genuine religious text used by a group of pagan witches in Tuscany, a claim that has subsequently been disputed by other folklorists and historians.