La Coscienza Di Zeno -
Una Vita Migliore

(CD 2018, 51:14, CD AMS Records ‎- AMS297CD)

The tracks:
  1- Lobe Iste Calabu(6:43)
  2- Il Posto Delle Fragole(8:36)
  3- Danza Ferma(5:38)
  4- Mordo La Lingua(5:45)
  5- L'Aspettativa Del Bimbo Scuro(8:58)
  6- Una Vita Migliore(12:34)
  7- Vico Del Giglio(2:58)

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La Coscienza Di Zeno is an Italian prog band that is rooted in 2007 In 2011 they released their eponymous debut album, followed by Sensitivita (see review) in 2013, La Notte Anche Di Giorno (see review) in 2015 and Una Vita Migliore in 2018. The current line-up is a six-piece formation (including two keyboard players) featuring members from known new Italian prog bands like Narrow Pass, Il Tempio Delle Clessidre and Finisterre. The drummer Andrea Orlando released his first, very interesting solo album last year entitled Dalla Vita Autentica (see review).

Most melodic and harmonic tracks on this new album shift between dreamy, slow rhythms and mid-tempo beats, embellished with a lush vintage keyboard sound (lots of Mini Moog flights and Mellotron layers), outstanding work on the electric guitar (from sensitive to harder-edged) and a wide range of instruments by guest musicians, from flute, saxophone, trumpet and hobo to violin, cello and assorted percussion. The song Danza Ferma is a fine example of the varied instrumentation. First a cheerful climate with flute and hobo (chamber music climate) with Angelo Branduardi-like vocals, then violins join, a pleasant folky climate. Next an acceleration with Mini Moog flights (Rick Wakeman comes to my mind), then a mid-tempo with violin and powerful electric guitar solo, hobo (Roxy Music sound) and tight drum beats. Finally warm vocals and violin and cello, really beautiful.

The epic title track starts in a bombastic atmosphere with howling guitar, propulsive drum beats and soaring Mellotron choirs, wow, very promising. Then a slow rhythm with dreamy vocals, mellow keyboards, moving guitar, again Mellotron choirs, and emotional vocals. Next an Next an acceleration with fiery guitar runs, again emotional vocals, flashy synthesizer flights, followed by a delicate Grand piano interlude. In the second part a more bombastic atmosphere with again fiery guitar runs, strong vocals and synthesizer flights. Finally emotional vocals, powerful guitar, and a Mellotron choir sound, slowly fading away. Although this long composition delivers plenty of fine moments, it fails to carry me away.

And that is my general feeling about La Coscienza Di Zeno on this entire new album: it sounds very pleasant (scouting the borders between symphonic rock and Neo-Prog), I don't trace weak tracks, but on the other hand I miss real highlights, for me all tracks balance between 3 and 3,5 star, hardly anywhere it peaks at a 4 star level (only in the titletrack).

***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Dave Smith)

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