Monday, 20 February 2012


Abash are an Italian band from Puglia that was formed in 1998. Looking for their own musical identity, they tried to blend African obsessive tribal rhythms and Oriental melodies with Italian traditional folklore (especially the music from Salento) and rock. The result is a very particular and atypical “Mediterranean progressive rock”. “Madri senza terra” (Mothers without land) is their third album and was released in 2006 on the independent label “Il Manifesto” with a line-up featuring Anna Rita Luceri (vocals), Maurilio Gigante (bass, vocals), Daniele Stefano (guitars), Luciano Toma (piano, keyboards), Paolo Colazzo (drums) and Luciano Treggiari (percussion, flute, teremin). It’s a really mature, interesting album, with good artwork and a paper sleeve package... It’s a kind of concept album where the character of “the mother” becomes a metaphor for love, peace, land, roots, tradition... On the cover are printed the following words: “The roots, the land, the mothers / It’s there the spirit, the truer and deeper way of living / Pure instinct, perennial love, blood and sweat / Music from the heart without borders...”.

Abash on stage

The opener “Intro (Madri senza terra)” is a short track that features only an evocative melody, sung without words by Anna Rita Luceri in a way that reminds me of Noa, and an “exotic” narrative part that leads to the “heavier” “Niuru te core” (Dark heart) where you can appreciate the contrast between the aggressive guitar parts and more relaxed moments, between the raw vocals of Maurilio Gigante and the beautiful melodic voice of Anna Rita Luceri singing the “poetry of a red sunset / red like blood... ”. The lyrics, in dialect, are about parents’ love for their children in a hard, dark world.

“Salentu e Africa” was the title track of Abash’s first self-produced album and this is a new powerful version... Here every now and again the voice of Anna Rita Luceri reminds me of Teresa De Sio while the song has a strong “ethnic flavour” with Mediterranean rhythms and “Plato and Marrakech” inside the heart. The words and music invite you to “jump and beat on the drum...”.

“Madri” (Mothers) is one of my favourite tracks on this album... The beautiful voice of Anna Rita sings “I’m your strength, your spirit, your memory, your coherence / I’m your mother, your root, your shelter, your comforter... With my voice I sing a war anthem to the world / That does not listen to me and dies / Swept away by the waves...”. In the beginning the melody reminds me a little bit of Mecano’s “Hijo de la luna” but then the music develops in an original way and the band showcase a great musicianship with keyboards and guitars in the forefront.

“La corsa di Assan” (Assan’s escape) is about an African boy running away from his land animated by a “thirst for hope and justice”. Tribal rhythms and evocative keyboard passages here are intertwined with a sweet lullaby giving the image of a desperate dream... “Here I am / Flying over the sea / Like a black angel / With outspread wings / Over your cities and your dirty miseries / I will blow my wrath / I’m the black power / Africa won’t lend its hand anymore / And my dream will be a land / Saved by the cry of God...”.

“Canto alle nuvole” (Song to the clouds) is a song of universal love and hope, hope that “poetry and love will change the world”. On an evocative musical carpet the voice of Anna Rita sings “I will be the music for your song to the clouds / Fire that melts the snow-fields / With words that nobody will never listen to anymore...”.

“Oltre” (Beyond) is delicate and sweet, featuring good harmony vocals inviting you to listen to the dreams and the silences of the night... “Beyond this moment, elsewhere / Beyond the mountains, beyond the heart... Beyond my destiny, to the East / Beyond my colours, beyond my mind...”.

“Otranto 14 agosto 1480” is another great track with strong traditional influences... The lyrics, in dialect, are about an attack of the Saracen pirates against the city of Otranto in 1484 and the music tries to describe it... “I can see some ships coming from the East / I can see faces painted black...”.

“Maràn Athà” (Come, Lord Jesus) features a delicate guitar arpeggio and flute... “From the scream and the cry of History / My praise shall rise up to Thee...”. The lyrics are an Aramaic prayer. Excellent the instrumental finale...

“Non gridate più” (Do not scream anymore) was inspired by “Il dolore”, a poem by Giuseppe Ungaretti. It’s a mix of modern sounds, heavy rhythms and dreamy vocal passages... “Stop killing the dead! Do not scream anymore, do not shout if you want to listen to them / If you hope to avoid death!...”.
“Scale fino al cielo” (Stairs to the sky) is another great song of peace and hope with a strong Oriental flavour featuring a good “heavy” guitar work... “Please, Mother Earth, cradle all the songs that were born from freedom...”.

On the whole “Madri senza terra” is a very good album, without really weak moments. Abash are not stuck in the past and their personal way to blend progressive rock and ethnic influences is very interesting... By the way, the album was re-released by the independent label Immaginifica in 2010 with a different art cover. Do not miss it, this work is a must have if you want to experience something musically fresh, full of poetry and an amazing female voice.
Abash: Madri senza terra (2006). Other opinions:
Tarcisio B. Moura: A great promise in the already strong italian prog scene. Very original and still very familiar. Great tunes and nice perfomances... (read the complete review HERE)
Henri Strik: This album contains a mixture of prog metal and Arabian and African musical influences. It has been done in a perfect way and I loved it at once... As far as I’m concerned Abash deserve international acclaim. Their music has many characteristics that might appeal to many people especially those with an open mind who like prog rock and are willing to listen to new, not quite common attributes in the genre... (read the complete review HERE)

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Tuesday, 7 February 2012


Il Bacio della Medusa come from Perugia and were formed in 2002 by Simone Cecchini (vocals, 6 & 12 acoustic guitar, mandolin, charango), Federico Caprai (bass) and Diego Petrini (drums, organ, keyboards, piano, vibraphone, percussion). In December 2003 Simone Brozzetti (guitar) and Eva Morelli (flute) joined the band and in 2004 Il Bacio della Medusa released the eponymous debut album. The beautiful art cover painted by Federico Caprai describes the content and the mood of this work where dark, poetical lyrics and an interesting mix of progressive, hard rock and classical music reminds me every now and again of bands such as Biglietto per l’Inferno, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and Jethro Tull...

Il Bacio della Medusa

The opener “Requiem per i condannati a morte” (Requiem for those condemned to death) begins with the disquieting sound of some greedy crows waiting for an execution... Soaring on heavy guitar riffs, filtered vocals describe the dismay of some people sentenced to death by hanging, people without dreams and with the fear into their blood, desperate eyes gazing from dark prisons, “damned souls sold out to justice...”. Then the tension melts in an acoustic ballad, “Sogno post mortem: fine d’un inverno” (A dream post mortem: end of a winter) where a deep sense of pity prevails: “At least let the ground receive our humble bones...”.

Next comes “Orientoccidente” (East-west), almost an electric dream on the footsteps of Marco Polo with an “Eastern air in a Western ground” feeling, featuring interesting bass lines and guitar riffs... “Oh sea, please tell me the deeds of heroes...”.

The long epic “Scorticamento di Marsia” is probably the “plat de résistance” of this work. It was inspired by the ancient myth of the satyr Marsyas, a great flutist who challenged Apollo in a music contest and was punished by the god with the death by flaying... “Let the wind blow in my flute that now lies on the ground...”. This track features many changes in rhythm and mood, an excellent work of flute and sax (provided by the guest musician Angelo Petri) and inspired, theatrical vocal parts...

Good also the next track, “Il vino (breve delirio del vino)” (Wine – short delirium of wine), where you can listen to an evocative accordion sound and to lyrics that remind me of some Baudelaire’s “maudits” poems about the consolatory powers of wine for desperate people... “Red, because the hand bloods in autumn / And warms the nights of ice / And the soulless eyes that tarnish the mirror...”.   

The “baroque” ballad “Cantico del poeta errante” (Song of the wandering poet) is another excellent track in three parts with the flute in the forefront and inspired vocals, while the long finale “De luxuria, et de ludo, et de taberna” is a tribute to the Italian poet Cecco Angiolieri (1260-1312) and is built upon one of his poems...

Although not flawless, I think that this debut work could be an excellent addition to the collection of every Italianprog lover. By the way, the album was re-released in 2008 by Black Widow Records and it is now available also on vinyl.

Il Bacio della Medusa: Il Bacio della Medusa (2004). Other opinions
Jim Russell: Recommended enthusiastically to all fans of hard rock and/or Italian progressive. If only all music were so authentic-this is a very, very fine red wine from the countryside of Perugia to your heart... (read the complete review HERE)
Erik Neuteboom: This is not very easy prog but if you are up to an exciting musical adventure, Il Bacio Della Medusa is yours! (read the complete review HERE)

Read the interview with the band at Click HERE  

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Saturday, 4 February 2012


Ombraluce began life in Turin in 2004 with the aim of blending different styles and experiences shaping something new. The present line up features Alessandro Vitale (vocals), Andrea Rosso (guitars), Carmelo Contino (drums), Giorgio Gonzi (keyboards), Roberto Savoca (guitars) and Sergio Alfredini (bass). After many years of hard work, in 2011 they released a very interesting self produced debut album, “Distanze ravvicinate” (Close), featuring an overall sound influenced not only by historic Italian progressive rock bands such as Area or Le Orme but by canzone d’autore, psychedelia and funky as well.


The short opener “Intro – dualità pt. I” (Intro – Duality part I) recalls Demetrio Stratos and features wordless vocals and a Middle Eastern flavour. It leads to “Il cerchio” (The circle) where behind the glass of a window in a rainy day you can follow the footsteps of some people looking for hidden truths, believing in their own personal God and who can’t see their likes. But if you open the window you can see the world in every raindrop, so do not waste your time and look around! “Set your eyes free and you’ll find... Love!”. Here the music every now and again reminds me of Le Orme and Lucio Battisti.

“Ancora un po’ di cose inutili” (More useless things) is about dreams clashing against the routine of an ordinary daily life. You wake up and your dreams melt, the rhythm picks you up and carries you away, towards a sea of useless things... As a new, atypical Adam you can still feel the venomous effects of the apple while sitting on a tram surrounded by unknown people who look all the same...

“N’gas (nuoce gravemente alla salute)” (It seriously damages health) is a caustic piece about some side effects of dreams and love... If you inject some substances with a needle in your arm to dream, beware! Sometimes dreams can seriously damage your health... If your love is so strong that when you see your lover with another partner you go crazy, beware! Sometimes love can seriously damage your health and jealousy can lead you to kill... If you kill someone pushed by your passions later remorse can be overwhelming, so beware! Killing can seriously damage your health...  “Now for me it’s time / To close my eyes and disappear...”. Sometimes love turns into hate and death turns into freedom, it depends on the points of view!

“Prigionia” (Imprisonment) is a short experimental piece featuring recitative vocals in the style of late Area’s vocalist Demetrio Stratos. Sometimes disinformation, prejudice, involution, intolerance and silence become a cage... “As wound into imprisoned thoughts... Fragments of thoughts that crumble... Stop! I want to be free...”. Awareness is the first step toward freedom and in the next track, the bittersweet ballad “Libertà” (Freedom), the imprisoned thoughts break through, soaring from a delicate piano pattern... “The imprisoned thoughts bang their head as birds closed in a barn... They look for the air, they dream the air...”. But we can’t be free, we are slaves of our passions and even love can be a prison. Our free thoughts broke their chains but now they are prisoners of caresses and certitudes, of hate and love...

The dreamy “Dualità pt. II” (Duality part II) features a touch of mysticism and an Oriental flavour. It’s about the inner conflict between instinct and rationality, between the need to pursue our dreams and the need of security that pushes us to give up dreaming and settle down... “My friend, you are fragile / You’re lost in a useless fight / Shadows are swallowing you... In the illusion of security I try to invent the world I would like / I dream, dream, dream and I will keep on dreaming / Because no one will dream for me...”. It leads to a kind of instrumental suite in three parts, “Giochi d’ombra” (Play of shadows), featuring a short experimental intro, a drum solo middle section and a fine jazz rock finale that recalls Arti e Mestieri.

“Ricordi” (Memories) features a lively rhythm and pulsing bass lines. It about a meeting but the lyrics don’t tell who or what the protagonist meets. For sure this meeting changed his life... “This is the memory of something that changed me / It began some time ago and it’s still changing me...” Well, every day is full of difficulties but the way you tackle them can change, it depends on your heart and on your mind...

“Dualità pt III” (Duality part III) takes us back to the conflict between dreams and reality. This time the melodic lines soar from a funky rhythm and the atmosphere is lighter. When you realize how important your dreams are things change, the sun rises and the breeze sweeps away clouds and shadows... “My friend, change your mind! / No struggle is useless... The hours become empty / If you cry on your broken dream instead to take side with Time / My friend, listen to me / Frequently ashes hide a fire ready to burst out / Revive it, stoke that fire! / The flame will fill the absence of certitude in your life... A man without hope is nothing but dead flesh, useless! / I dream, dream, dream and I will keep on dreaming until someone will dream with me...”.

On the next track “Allucinazioni” (Allucinations) funky influences are even stronger and Steve Wonder “Superstitious” comes to mind. The song is about the end of a love. A woman goes away and her ex boyfriend sees her everywhere, hallucinations and distorted images drive him crazy... “You know, I saw you running away / You slammed the door on my face / Now my sight is a bit distorted... You were looking for your own way / You were looking for your own life / Where are you now?... Hallucinations in the mud are taking me away...”.

The brilliant final “Giochi di luce” (Plays of light) is a long, complex instrumental full of changes in mood and rhythm. It begins calmly, then the rhythm rises and the music flows away shining and sparkling until the end. The CD features also a ghost track where you can listen to experimental sounds, hints of disco music and classical inspired passages. Fragments of a dream that slowly fades away...

Ombraluce: Distanze Ravvicinate (2011). Other opinions:
Chris “Seventhsojourn”: Ombraluce fit well into the context of modern prog rock and are as likely to appeal to northern beer-and-sausage guys as southern wine-and- cheese ones. Since a variety of styles meet on this album it'll be interesting to see which direction the band takes with future releases... (read the complete review HERE)
Jim Russell: They have an eclectic style that tries to blend, according to them, hard rock, blues, prog, jazz, funk, and psych into one without falling too in line with any. They want their sound to be the mix of the styles, not just a collection of different recognizable styles pasted together. For the most part I think it succeeds well because it was hard to classify... Ombraluce will please fans of RPI and melodic Eclectic prog as they straddle the line between the two genres... (read the complete review HERE).

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