In 1990 this Italian project was founded as Banaau by the duo Andrea Massimo (guitar) and Lino Cicala (keyboards), their work was inspired by literature from T.S. Elliot and E.A.Poe. The following years the band alternated between success and disappointments and finally disbanded. But in 2011 Andrea and Lino reunited and released the EP The Burial in 2015. Then they changed their name into Hollowscene and released the eponymous debut album on the known Italian prog label Black Widow Records in 2018. As a 7-piece formation, including two players on guitar, two on keyboard, a flute player, a drummer and a bass player with bass pedals.
After a few listening sessions I conclude that Hollowscene makes wonderful music, obviously Seventies Genesis inspired. Especially the Selling England By The Pound (1973) and Wind And Wuthering (1976) period, but also with hints from IQ (bombastic parts with howling electric guitar). The six own very melodic and harmonic compositions (ranging from 5.58 to 13.13) alternate between dreamy with soaring flute, tender piano and warm twanging acoustic guitars and bombastic with flashy synthesizer flights, lots of angelic Mellotron choirs and powerful Hammond organ . This is topped by many moving and sensitive electric guitar solos, often evoking Steve Hackett but also Mike Holmes. The compositions sound very pleasant with a tasteful colouring by guitars, keyboards and flutes.
The final track is the Gentle Giant cover The Moon Is Down (from the 1971 album Acquiring The Taste), Hollowscene has succeeded in giving this song a beautiful own flavour, no brass but the emphasis on piano and flute.
But now to the vocals, not only in the track mentioned above but also in the other six compositions the voice of Andrea Massimo (vocals and guitar) lacks power, intensity and passion. This turns into a negative contrast with the lush, varied and dynamic symphonic rock that Hollowscene delivers. I wish he had sung in his native language. I am sure he would have sounded at least more expressive. More matching with the bands good musicianship and elaborate writing skills on this very pleasant Seventies symphonic rock inspired debut album.
***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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