Sunday, 22 January 2012

POP-ROCK CONTAMINATIONS

Il Rovescio della Medaglia began life in 1971 in Rome on the initiative of guitarist Enzo Vita. After two albums in hard rock style, “La bibbia” and “Io come io”, in 1973 they collaborated with composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov and lyricist Sergio Bardotti for a third album in symphonic style with the interaction of a real orchestra, “Contaminazione” that is usually considered their best one. The band was famous for its live performances but the members had to give up for economical reasons and the experience came to an end in the mid seventies. Enzo Vita tried to start again in the nineties with a new line up and a new musical direction but the results were very disappointing and another long pause followed.

Il Rovescio della Medaglia in the Seventies

In 2011 Il Rovescio della Medaglia came back with a new album, “Microstorie”. Well, in fact there’s no reunion. Today Il Rovescio della Medaglia is mainly the brainchild of Enzo Vita who set up a brand new project under the old name gathering around him some experienced musicians such as vocalist Roberto Tiranti (from Labyrinth), bassists Gianni Colajacomo (former member of BMS) and Pippo Matino and drummers Cristiano Micalizzi, Daniele Pomo (from RanestRane) and Luca Trolli. On winds we find Sandro Deidda, Roberto Ciminelli, Roberto Schiano and Claudio Corvini while on strings there are Marcello Sirignano, Prisca Amori, Adriana Ester Gallo and Giuseppe Tortora. The result of the recording sessions is an album that most of the old the fans will find difficult to appreciate I fear. The approach is more direct than in the past, there are no long suites or complex tracks but twelve songs featuring an interesting pop rock sound that every now and again could recall Santana’s recent works.


Well, the overall sound is lighter than in the past works of Il Rovescio della Medaglia but it’s never banal. All the tracks are well crafted and the guitar playing of the leader is always brilliant. According to an interview with Enzo Vita, every track here represents a meeting. Some are meetings with feelings others with books, politics, religion, friendship and music. The lyrics describe the way he got involved in these meetings and Roberto Tiranti’s heartfelt vocals interpret them in a convincing way. A man who wants to see what’s behind his mask, a star dancing over the chaos, old lovers and troubled dreams, frenzied people who go nowhere as if they were on a treadmill, pieces of history sold as souvenirs... Just twelve simple micro-stories where feelings and emotions are in the forefront and are expressed through funky rhythms, hard rock riffs, Latin atmospheres, short prog reminiscences or melodic ballads. “Have you ever tried to imitate your heart? / Your heart with its beating and you with your words...”.


Well, on the whole I have to say that I like this album, even if I don’t think it’s an essential one for a progressive-rock lover...

Il Rovescio della Medaglia: Microstorie (2011). Other opinions
Ozzy Tom: The new material presented by re-united Il Rovescio Della Medaglia is much more mainstream oriented hard rock/pop-rock with only few heavy prog influences and even less symphonic parts. But is it completely bad? Not really... (read the complete review HERE).

Read the interview with Enzo Vita at Progarchives.com. Click HERE

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Saturday, 21 January 2012

EMPATHY AT AN EXHIBITION

Eris Pluvia began life in Genoa in 1988 with a first line up featuring Alessandro Cavatorti (guitar), Paolo Raciti (piano, keyboards), Edmondo Romano (flute, sax), Marco Forella (bass), Martino Murtas (drums) and Alessandro Serri (vocals, guitar). In 1991 they released an interesting debut album titled “Rings of Earthly Light” and started an intense live activity. In 1992 Alessandro Serri left the band while Alessandro Conti (vocals) and Mauro Montobbio (guitar) stepped in. In the mid nineties, after some other line up changes, the band stopped the live activity and took a long rest.


Eris Pluvia came back in 2005 and in 2010 the band released an excellent second album, “Third Eye Light”, with a renewed line up featuring Alessandro Cavatorti (guitars), Paolo Raciti (keyboards), Marco Forella (bass), Matteo Noli (vocals, guitars) and Daviano Rotella (drums). In the recording studio they were helped by some guest musicians such as Roberta Piras (flute, vocals), Diana Dallera (vocals) and Max Martorana (classical guitar) who contributed to enrich the sound. “Third Eye Light” is a conceptual work inspired by a short story written by Alessandro Cavatorti and Alessia Ceri that you can find in the booklet along with some pictures describing it. On the art cover there’s a painting by Anita Chieppa, “La donna di vetro (ferite)” (The woman of glass – wounds), that in some way depicts the mood of the music and lyrics... Well, to be honest the music is not so original and every now and again recalls bands such as Pink Floyd, Genesis and Marillion but the final result is good and fits the concept.

Anita Chieppa: La donna di vetro (ferite)
The title track opens the album and begins softly. The atmosphere is mysterious and dreamy. A man wakes up but his strange dreams are still hanging over him. He crawls out of his bed and finds a header inviting him to the inauguration of an exhibition of paintings by an artist called Peggy, a friend he hasn’t seen for a long time. The title of the exhibition is “Third Eye Light”. Soaring female vocals seem almost coming out from the invitation card like the singing of a siren, then a heartfelt, evocative electric guitar solo in David Gilmour’s style leads the way... 

Next comes “Rain Street 19”. It begins with an acoustic guitar arpeggio and flute notes, then melodic vocals soar on a piano pattern... The title of this track is the address of the building where the exhibition is held. It’s raining and there’s a lot of people at the entrance, they’re all trying to go in... “I hear their voice, don’t feel the sound... No breeze, no place, I’m fainting... Now I’m inside...”.

Once inside, the protagonist of the story doesn’t see the paintings, he perceives them! There’s a strange, strong phenomenon of empathy. The mood is tense and the rhythm rises. “The Darkness Gleams” describes the first painting and what the protagonist feels looking closely at it. The painting reproduces a scene of violence, a man is lying on the pavement and the protagonist can hear the hooters of an ambulance and feels the pain of the injured man... “I open my eyes, shouting all my fears! / Now they’re coming down chocking all my fears / The darkness gleams!”.


Eris Pluvia 2010

“Someone Cares For Us” is more reassuring and calm. It describes another painting representing a hand stretched out to reach another hand. The scene communicates a warm feeling of security, there’s someone who cares for you and he lights the fire of hope...”There is my trust inside your hand-shake, that I will never give up...”.

On the instrumental “Fixed Course” the rhythm rises again. The protagonist is aware that the emotional power of the paintings could be overwhelming but he can’t go back, there’s only one way and he has to look at every painting risking to get lost in it before leaving the exhibition.


“Peggy” describes the reaction of the protagonist to the next tableau. It represents a ballerina in the rain mixing tears, sweat and excitement... The sweet voice of the painter seems coming out from the colours on the canvas, female vocals soars... “Now you can see me, here inside this maze / Where we’ll share ambition with tears and true commotion...”.

“Shades” is an excellent instrumental that describes another painting. It begins with a delicate piano pattern then an electric guitar solo introduces a sense of tension. Disquieting shapes surround a man with a threatening look but he doesn’t seem to fear them. Some horrible sounds call him and scratch his soul, he walks following their orders, tamed...

Eris Pluvia

On “Fellow Of Trip” the empathy with the mysterious painter is stronger than ever leading to an explosion in the mind of the protagonist. On the next painting you can see open spaces and a crushed merry-go-round, the purity of the childhood is falling into an abyss while in the distance a train  runs night and day marking the minutes...

The melancholic last track “Sing The Sound Of My Fears” describes the reaction of the protagonist to the last piece of art before the exit, a mirror! “Again, a shiver in my back / I think to start to run and escape / And the rain over my tears sings the song of my fears / I see my soul / A huge mirror showing my eyes, my dreams, my pains / And I know my third eye light, my new life...”.

Well, a very interesting story and a good album. Unfortunately, on August 3, 2011 Paolo Raciti, the heart and keyboardist of the band, died. Now he’s playing his piano in Heaven while his band mates keep on playing on Earth remembering him...

Paolo Raciti

Eris Pluvia: Third Eye Light (2010). Other opinions:
Vitaly Menshikov: Eris Pluvia’s “Third Eye Light” provides the right amount of listening room for any fan into good Neo Progressive. Instantly accessible for comprehension, the album should attract a comparatively large audience and, at the same time, renovate interest in its predecessor... (read the complete review HERE).
Tarcisio Moura: The only down side is the record’s short running time (only 44 minutes, we want more!). In some tunes I had the feeling the band could have developed the song into something longer or so it seems. Yet Third Eye Light is a very strong come back, one of the best releases of 2010 and I really hope they don’t take that long to produce a follow up, even if, in this case, it was well worth the wait... (read the complete review HERE).
Henri Strik: The lyrics are sung in the English language, but it’s easy to say that they’re not sung by people who usually speak English according to the heavy accents. Maybe it would have been better to sing in the Italian language... However, there’s enough quality left on the second album of Eris Pluvia... (read the complete review HERE).

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Sunday, 15 January 2012

WAVES AND DREAMS

Alex Carpani was born in Switzerland in 1970 of an Italian father and a French mother. Later he moved to Italy and graduated in Musicology at the University of Bologna. As a composer and musician his activities and interests range from soundtracks for cinema and theatre to electronic and progressive rock. From 1990 to 2007 he self-produced many works with little success, then he met Le Orme’s singer Aldo Tagliapietra and his career suddenly changed direction with the release of his first prog album, “Waterline”, a conceptual work dedicated to the thin line dividing the world which emerged from the water (the familiar one) from the submerged world (the unknown one). Originally conceived as an instrumental project, it became an album with lyrics and vocals thanks to Aldo Tagliapietra. It was composed and recorded as a demo in three weeks by Alex Carpani in his home-studio, then Alex sent it to Aldo Tagliapietra, who liked the project and put him in touch with the American independent prog label Cypher Arts. Alex Carpani met Cypher Arts’ director Dan Shapiro in Los Angeles and the album was finally refined and released in 2007 with the help of many musicians from the American prog scene and an art cover by Paul Whitehead. The result is excellent and if you like the works of bands such as Le Orme, BMS, early Genesis and ELP I’m sure you’ll like this work too.


The opener “The Siren And The Mariner” should be a true delight for symphonic prog lovers. It starts with a tasteful classical intro that leads to a duet between the voice of the mariner Aldo Tagliapietra, who sings in Italian, and the voice of the siren, the guest singer Beatrice Casagrande, who answers in English... “Your voice shines like the sun on the sea... Come to me and hear me sing / Leave behind your hopes and fears...”. Then, after an instrumental break featuring an electric guitar solo, Aldo Tagliapietra concludes... “I’m losing myself in the light / Following your voice... I’m feeling like a leaf lost in the sea”.

“The Levees’ Break” is a beautiful, dreamy instrumental featuring delicate flute passages and shifting tempos. Next comes the darker “In The Rocks” that tries to depict in music and words the feelings of the survivors sheltered on the rocks after the wreckage of their ship, in the mist...


The solemn “Reclaimed” is another beautiful instrumental track that leads to quiet sailing on the clear waters of “Agua Claro”... “A new direction covers the past / Take the white wave / Ride towards the sun...”. “Starcurrents” is more dramatic and mystical. Here we sail to a path of stars without a frame, a metaphysical journey into space...

The calm instrumental “Song Of The Pond” features a delicate acoustic guitar arpeggio and dreamy flute passages leading to a final joyful section... “A Gathering Storm” is more aggressive, with the sax in the forefront and a tasteful jazzy feeling while the following “The Waterfall” begins with a cascade of notes played by piano then joined by the other instruments for another musical ride...


On “Catch The Wave” the saxophone leads the dance until an acoustic break, then the vocals soar... “With no more fears / I ride the wave towards the open sea / In harmony with this sea / I can’t fall / I can’t fail...”. An interesting arrangement of J.S. Bach’s “Prelude In C Min.” concludes the album.

The vocals of Aldo Tagliapietra and the art cover by Paul Whitehead do not necessarily make the difference between a very good album and a masterpiece. In this work in some passages Aldo’s vocals seem almost “unnatural”, as if he had tried to make an effort to sing in a different way and at a lower pitch than on Le Orme’s works. Nonetheless I enjoyed the music...

From the book Rock Progressivo Italiano: An introduction to Italian Progressive Rock

Alex Carpani: Waterline (2007). Other opinions
Ryan Sparks: Waterline is a very promising debut and Alex Carpani has assembled a great supporting cast of musicians to help him carry out his vision. You can hear the ghosts of many different bands from the glory days of progressive rock all over Waterline, so Carpani has certainly done his homework. It's what he did with those influences, and how well he incorporated them into his own original compositions to create something new, that makes Waterline such a joy to listen to... (read the complete review HERE).
Olav Martin Bjørnsen: Like many other artists it’s the symphonic side of the progressive rock universe that has fascinated Carpani, and whilst there’s certainly a distinct vintage sound to this first venture of his in this stylistic expression he’s to be given credit for finding a sound that doesn’t immediately make you think of other artists... (read the complete review HERE).

Read the interview with Alex Carpani at Progarchives. Click HERE

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Monday, 9 January 2012

FATHER AND SON

Pandora are an Italian prog band from Cuneo that was formed in 2005 on the initiative of Beppe and Claudio Colombo, father and son... Beppe Colombo during the seventies was a music fan and a musician who never had the chance to record an album, but his passion for music has always remained and he passed it on to his son Claudio. So, along with keyboardist Corrado Grappeggia they started an interesting musical project blending influences from the past (PFM, BMS etc.) with a “heavier”, modern taste (Dream Theater): a kind of bridge across the generation gap. Pandora’s debut album, “Dramma di un poeta ubriaco” was released by AMS/BTF label in 2008 and the result is excellent. The line-up on this work features Beppe Colombo (synth, organ, backing vocals), Claudio Colombo (drums, percussion, bass, acoustic guitar, synth), Corrado Grappeggia (vocals, synth, organ, piano) and a young guitarist, Christian Dimasi (electric guitar, backing vocals).


The opener “Il giudizio universale” (The Last Judgment), aggressive and desperate, is an imaginary dialog with God on the Day of Judgment... “Here we are before you! / We are the exiles, breed of Eve and Abraham / And we’re waiting for the apocalyptic and universal Judgment / Everybody is guilty / We bend our heads and accept the fate / But you, try to explain this fate / To the innocent children, tired and hungry... Wandering souls hanging in the limb of time / There’s no one anymore / No one who has got any tears to cry / Anguish rules... Silence rules... / Behold what you have done!”.

The next track, “March to Hell” is a beautiful instrumental. According to an interview with the band it was written thirteen years before and it was inspired by the war in Kosovo. The band imagined all the mighty ones of the earth marching naked towards hell on a powerful, fiery “marching beat”. So, close your eyes and try to imagine the scene while listening to this track...


“Così come sei” (The way you are) comes as the calm after the storm, acoustic and delicate... “You are as you are / You can’t help it, that’s the way you are / You want to come down / When suddenly you go up, up, up / Your arms broaden and become wings / You go up, up, up...”. Then the rhythm rises in a wonderful crescendo featuring sudden changes in musical direction, taking off and landing again on a softer atmosphere... 

The long “Pandora” is probably “le plat de resistance” of this album... A gloomy voice describes the opening of Pandora’s box: only a little, pretty blue bird remains to give comfort to humankind while evil is spreading all around... Then the music flows in every direction and the members of band can showcase their great musicianship and their taste for challenging compositions...


The acoustic ballad “Breve storia di San George” (Short tale of Saint George) is about the legend of Saint George and the Dragon, where the “hero” kills the monster with his spear and saves a princess. You can find here an almost medieval atmosphere... 

The title track “Dramma di un poeta ubriaco” (Tragedy of a drunken poet) is about a poet who relies on alcohol to draw inspiration. He dreams of setting his bottles on fire to break free from his addiction... The music alternates frantic passages, delicate piano arpeggios and soaring melodies featuring a particular bittersweet mood.


The complex, long “Salto nel buio” (Jump in the dark) closes the album. The track is dramatic and almost mystic. It’s divided in four parts: reflection, jump, fall and awareness. The mood is dark and the lyrics develop some reflections about death...

Well, on the whole a very good album, full of energy and freshness... 

From the book Rock Progressivo Italiano: An introduction to Italian Progressive Rock

Pandora: Dramma di un poeta ubriaco (2008). Other opinions:
Jim Russell: Dramma di un poeta ubriaco is a modern symphonic winner that is going to be a knock-out for many prog fans with its combination of beautiful sounds and bold jamming... (read the complete review HERE).

Read the interview with the band at Progarchives. Click HERE

More info:

Monday, 2 January 2012

THE SYMPHONY OF THE SEASONS

Fabio Zuffanti
Höstonaten is a project that dates back to 1991. It’s mainly the brainchild of Fabio Zuffanti, a very prolific multi-instrumentalist and composer involved in many other bands and projects such as la Maschera di Cera, Finisterre, Aries and Rohmer just to name a few. The name of this project was inspired by a famous film directed by Ingmar Bergman, Autumn Sonata, and the love for cinema can be also perceived in the evocative atmospheres conjured up by the music. After two interesting albums (Höstonaten, released in 1996, and Mirrorgames, released in 1998), Fabio Zuffanti started to work on a series of musical tableaux inspired by the cycle of the seasons that was completed in 2011 with “Summereve”, the album inspired by Summer. The album was released on the independent label AMS/BTF and is the first part of cycle. Well, the first part of this cycle was also the last one to be released but I think that it’s the right starting point to explore all the albums of the cycle if you haven’t listened to them yet. The line up here features along with Fabio Zuffanti (bass, Moog, Taurus bass pedals, acoustic guitar, tambourine, tubular bells) also Luca Scherani (Mellotron, Hammond and Church Organ, Minimoog, Grand Piano, Fender Rhodes, clavinet, Roland & Yamaha synthesizers, RMI keyboard, Farfisa, Sequencers, piano), Maurizio Di Tollo (drums, congas, tambourine), Matteo Nahum (acoustic and electric guitars), Fausto Sidri (didgeridoo, percussion), Joanne Roan (flute), Luca Tarantino (oboe), Sylvia Trabucco (violin), Alessandra Dalla Barba (violin), Ilaria Bruzzone (viola) and Chiara Alberti (cello). The beautiful art cover by Davide Guidoni tries to capture the spirit and the colours of the music opening a door for your imagination...



The first track “Seasons’s Ouverture” is a suite in six parts (Rite Of Summer, In The Rising Sun, The Last Shades Of Winter, A Church Beyond The Lake, La Route Pour Finistére and Springtheme). The mystery of the Summer solstice is celebrated at dawn with a rite featuring a crescendo of percussions, then the sun begins to shine and lights up the colours of the nature. Fabio Zuffanti had the idea of this cycle of the seasons during a journey in Brittany and you can try to follow him on his way to Finistère to visit a quiet, beautiful church beyond a lake... Acoustic guitar passages, swirling flutes notes, fiery keyboards surges: the music is complex with many changes in rhythm and mood but always warm and pleasant. There’s no interruption between the different tracks of this work and piano and violin lead the way to the idyllic, romantic “Glares Of Light”. “Evening Dance” follows, bringing a touch of mystery and lightness while “On The Sea” is more reflective and dreamy. On the evocative “Under Stars” you can listen to some narrative vocals... “We celebrated every moment of our meetings as epiphanies / Just we two in all the world / Bolder, lighter than a bird’s wing, you hurtled like vertigo / Down the stairs, leading through moist lilac to your realm / Beyond the mirror...”. These are the first verses of a poem by Arseny Tarkovsky that you can hear in The Mirror, a 1975 film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, son of the poet... An electric guitar riff then introduces “Blackmountains” an amazing track full of colours and exotic touches where flamenco guitar and violin interact broidering delicate melodies. Next comes the tense “Prelude Of An Elegy” that drives you towards a storm and to the last track of this album, the melancholic “Edge Of Summer”. Well, on the last notes you can feel that Autumn is coming soon...




Höstonaten: Summereve (2011). Other opinions:
Conor Fynes: An almost entirely instrumental journey, Hostsonaten creates a stunning soundtrack for the warmest of seasons; a beautifully fitting score to the coming months. Although the concept of this album may seem tacky at first glance, the brilliant way Hostsonaten executes it puts “Summereve” among the freshest sounding symphonic prog rock albums in recent memory... (read the complete review HERE).

You can listen in streaming to the complete album HERE

“Autumnsymphony” is the second part of Höstonaten’s cycle of the seasons and was released in 2009 on the independent label AMS/BTF with a line up featuring along with composer and producer Fabio Zuffanti (bass, bass pedals, acoustic and electric guitar, Fender Rhodes, mellotron, minimoog) also Federico Foglia (drums), Pietro Martinelli (double bass), Carlo Barreca (stick), Giacomo Villa (cello), Osvaldo Loi (viola, violin), Marco Moro (flute, piccolo), Andrea Benassi (oboe), Michele Bernabei (trumpet), Edmondo Romano (sax, bagpipes, Robbo Vigo (grand piano, koto special effects), Matteo Nahum (classical and electric guitar) and Simona Angioloni (vocals). Here the musical colours of Autumn are painted with a touch of jazz and classical inspired passages. On the wonderful art cover by Davide Guidoni you can see some men walking in a wood and entering into the mist: in my opinion all you have to do to enjoy this album is following them, they will lead you into a magic realm of dreams and notes...



The opener “Open Windows To Autumn” begins with a soft drumming and pulsing double bass lines, then a trumpet solo contributes to draw a disquieting, dark mood. What can you see from your window in a foggy autumnal day? Probably just some shadows and shapes, you hae to imagine the rest... The following track “Leaves In The Well (Including Riverbank Prelude)” features a melancholic atmosphere and a good guitar work while “Out Of Water” begins with a delicate piano and violin passage before turning into bolero and jazz... Well, the art work is not limited to the cover, in the booklet you can find a painting describing each track and in my opinion they perfectly fit the music. The third painting represents a brook, the fourth a swan in a pond.... Now the day is getting darker, but you can see a white swan swimming in a pond and you can look at its acrobatics on the notes of “Nightswan I and II”... All night long the image of the swan hangs over, then a trumpet backed by a bagpipe announces the dawn and the beginning of the new day depicted in “As The Night Gives Birth To The Morning”. A joyful passage of flute in “Trees In November” reminds you that, all in all, the autumnal landscape of the woods can be of such intense beauty to push you to dance, then, as the music calms down, you can rest and contemplate the magic of the nature. In November they celebrate All Souls’ Day or the Day of the Dead and on “Elegy” the beautiful voice of Simona Angioni soars drawing a wordless, melancholic melody to remind you of the dead people you miss. The crepuscular “Autumn’s Last Breath / The Gates Of Winter” concludes the album... “It’s not dark yet, but the end is here, in front of me...”. The last words are a quote from a film directed by Werner Herzog, Heart of Glass...   

Höstonaten: Autumnsymphony (2009). Other opinions:
Jerry Lucky: Expect to hear some soothing flute, ringing acoustic guitars, mournful Mellotrons, spiced up with some stinging electric guitar, saxophone or trumpet. The compositional style provides huge swells of music, anthemic even, contrasted against more somber soft and delicate interludes; never aggressive the music instead projects a feeling of power... (read the complete review HERE)

You can listen to the complete album in streaming HERE

Hostsonaten Live 2008

“Winterthrough” is the third part of Höstonaten’s cycle of the seasons and was released in 2008 on the independent label AMS/BTF with a line up featuring along with composer and producer Fabio Zuffanti (bass, bass pedals, acoustic and electric guitar, moog, percussion) also Alessandro Corvaglia (Mellotron, Mini-Moog, synthesizers, keyboards), Maurizio Di Tollo (drums, cymbals, tambourine, gong, percussion), Matteo Nahum (electric guitar), Edmondo Romano (sax, clarinet) and Robbo Vigo (piano, Hammond and Church organ, strings ensemble, glockenspiel, horns). The soft musical colours of Winter are painted here with delicate and balanced classical passages and an overall symphonic sound. Davide Guidoni’s art work invites you to take an immaculate white path leading in a wood, there’s snow all around and magic in the air...



The epic opener “Entering The Halls Of Winter” begins softly, just some delicate notes of piano, then the rhythm section comes in and the atmosphere becomes hypnotic. You’re not walking alone, a whole army of ghosts is marching with you as if they were icy soldiers in a snowstorm... When the rhythm calms down you are alone again and you can admire the beauty of the nature around you. It calls you, go on, look ahead, beyond the horizon, far away, up to the limit of the world... It’s not dark yet, but the end is here, in front of you... The voice-over that you can hear on “Red Sky” is taken from Werner Herzog’s film, Heart of Glass (as the last words in Autumnsymphony) and evokes apocalyptic images: Time begins to crumble and after Time it’s the turn of the Earth, it’s the beginning of the end, everything falls down... “I’m falling down, I go down and down, it’s the dizziness...”. “White Earth” is a short, dreamy acoustic passage but in the following “Snowstorm” powerful winds begin to blow. An electric guitar solo leads to the jazzy “Over The Plain” where a trumpet draws dark shadows on the white landscape. On the second part of the beautiful, ethereal “The Crystal Light” the over-voice comes back conjuring new visions... “Once again I see a feather floating in the brook / And the wind pushing the fire on / I’ve seen the trees burning like matchsticks / I see some men running up the hill / Breathless, they stop at the top and paralyzed they turn into stone, one beside the other / The forest is made of stone / Everything becomes silent... Am I really the last one?”. On “Outside” the rhythm rises and the mood becomes lighter. Next comes the quiet, dreamy “Ruins” that fades into the short acoustic “Through Winter’s Air”. The last track is the long, complex “Rainsuite” which is divided in four parts (Prelude, New year’s theme, Winter’s end, Celebration / To the Open Fields...). It starts softly, the mood is melancholic but melancholy eventually gives way to optimism and a drum roll seems to announce the celebration of the vernal equinox and the upcoming rites of spring. A magnificent grand finale for a wonderful album!

Höstonaten: Winterthrough (2008). Other opinions:
Thomas Szirmay: The finest definition of contemplation in prog music, a serenely nostalgic all-instrumental adventure that luxuriates in the almost classical expression of the Four Seasons that nature provides with since time immemorial. Having Vivaldi as their compatriot is already a great omen, but of course, here we are dealing with a full-blown progressive delivery... (read the complete review HERE)

You can listen to the complete album in streaming HERE

“Springsong” is the fourth and last part of Höstonaten’s cycle of the seasons although it was the first to be released. In fact, it was originally released in 2002 on the independent label Sublime. In 2009 it was remixed, restyled and re-released on AMS/BTF with a different art cover by Davide Guidoni. Along with composer and producer Fabio Zuffanti (acoustic guitars, bass) here the other musicians involved in the project are Francesca Biagini (flute), Sergio Caputo (violin, percussion), Federico Foglia (drums, percussion), Agostino Macor (piano, mellotron, hammond, moog), Stefano Marelli (acoustic and electric guitars), Edmondo Romano (recorders, bagpipes, sax), Boris Valle (piano) and Robbo Vigo (piano). The musical colours of the spring are rendered with a strong folkloric touch and melodic freshness.


The opener “In The Open Fields” begins with the same arpeggio which closed “Winterthrough”, then the sound of a flute evokes a pastoral, peaceful atmosphere. With “Kemper – Springtheme” we go back to Brittany, where our journey through time and nature began and in Quimper now we can breathe the fresh air of spring. “Living Stone And 1st Reprise” is dreamy and full of melody while on the evocative “She Sat Writing Letters On The Riverbanks” we meet again the poetry of  Arseny Tarkovsky... “Your eyelids, brushed with blue, were peaceful and your hand was warm / And in the crystal I saw pulsing rivers, smoke-wreathed hills, and glimmering seas / Holding in your palm that crystal sphere, you slumbered on the throne, and - God be praised! - you belonged to me / Awaking, you transformed the humdrum dictionary of humans / Till speech was full and running over with resounding strength, and the word you revealed its new meaning: it meant tsar...”. “The Underwater And 2nd Reprise” begins with a touch of jazz and a darker mood, then an electric guitar solo breaks in as a sunray through the clouds leading to the reflective “Lowtide”. “The Wood Is Alive With The Smell Of The Rain” begins with a renaissance flavour, then keyboards and guitar lines take you back from dream to reality and you are ready to merrily dance in the following “Evocation Of Spring In A Fastdance”. The long, complex “Toward The Sea” closes the season’s cycle. It’s a suite in four parts where you can appreciate the reprise of some themes. A wonderful grand finale!

The 2009 re-issue of this album features also a bonus track, “Suite Bretonne”. It’s  a piece in three parts for acoustic, classical and 12 strings guitars that was composed and recorded in late 1998. According to Fabio Zuffanti it was the starting point of the whole cycle of albums since after a few months this piece evolved into “Springsong”...

Höstonaten: Springsong (2002). Other opinions:
Michael Popke: These nine songs need no titles as they meld beautifully into each other, creating an aural environment filled with sunshine and peace... (read the complete review HERE).

You can listen to the complete album in streaming HERE

More info: