Monday, 13 February 2017


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.

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