The 'history' of the Italian progressive rock band Unreal City started only in 2008. The founding members were Ema (vocals, piano, Hammond organ, Moog synthesizer, Mellotron, Chamberlin, Fender Rhodes, clavinet, church organ, Theremin) and Francesca Zanetta (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, lute). Two years later the band were completed when Francesco Orefice (electric bass, fretless bass, backing vocals, voice) and Federico Bedostri (drums, timpani, percussion, narration) joined the other two. When Fabio Zuffanti (Höstsonaten, La Maschera Di Cera, Aries) heard their private release EP (2012) he decided to produce their debut album La Crudeltà Di Aprile. He even released it on his own Mirror Records label.
When you listen to this debut it's hard to deny that they didn't try to combine influences from new (Höstsonaten and La Maschera Di Cera) and rather old Italian prog rock bands (Premiata Forneria Marconi, Le Orme and Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso). People who already are familiar with the six tracks on La Crudeltà Di Aprile will probably agree with me that combination worked out very well. Especially instruments like the Mellotron, Moog synthesizer, church organ and Hammond organ push the music towards a style of music that the aforementioned Italian bands recorded in the seventies. The musical parts of guest musician and violinist Fabio Biale on two tracks made me think of the golden years of PFM.
The entire album is very keyboard orientated, but not in the vein of ELP or Rick Wakeman. Sure, at certain moments while using the grand piano, Mellotron, Moog, church organ and the Hammond, you can't deny that it could be Keith Emerson or Wakeman who touches the keys. However, in general the keyboards have a more modern approach compared to the sound of these keyboard wizards. Unfortunately the guitars just have a supporting role and take the lead on Ecate (Walpurgisnacht) and Horror Vacui only. The latter is the longest and most important piece on La Crudeltà Di Aprile and music wise it's my favourite track. This almost eighteen-minute track shows the influences of the music recorded by Le Orme. It doesn't mean that the remainder of the material is weaker. That's certainly not the case. From the first to the last seconds the music of Unreal City is a treat to progressive rock ears.
I think the band members of Unreal City must be very proud of this outstanding debut. This great album is something for which they should not be ashamed of since the music they delivered on La Crudeltà Di Aprile is of a very high level. I very much appreciate it myself so I guess many other devotees of prog rock will come to the same judgment. Highly recommended!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013