Here is a blast from the past! Or let me rephrase that, because we are talking about a brand new album, of course, but it is made by musicians who have been around for many, many years and who I have been following (on and off, to be honest) almost since their early and humble beginnings. They started as the duo of Lucio Lazzaruolo (classical guitar and keyboards) and Raffaele Villanova (guitars) in 1984. They took their name from a classical piece for two guitars by 19th Century Italian composer Ferdinando Carulli. They released their first demo with five acoustic instrumental tracks in 1985. A couple of more demos followed, all of which are still in my collection. Their first albums, The Hiding Place (1990 on Musea) and Erewhon (1993 on Mellow) turned into more of a neo progressive rock direction, although the second was much more pastoral than the first. Over the years they regularly released albums, but I think somewhere after 2005's Riscrivere Il Passato (another fine gentle folky symphonic album), I lost track of them despite them doing some more releases.
Now they have returned with their seventh album. Going back to their beginnings, in a way, it is a completely instrumental work, combining electric and acoustic instruments. They are still relying on folk and symphonic prog (although much less than before), while adding many other styles and featuring international musicians. Among these we find Russian violinist Nadia Khomutova, American Molly Joyce, Canadian cellist Kaitlyn Raitz, and Japanese clarinettist Seto Nobuyuki as well as new drummer Francesco Margherita.
So, hope you are curious about the music now. I won't comment on all tracks, but here are some to give you an impression of what to expect. Opener Let Them Say is promising with a dense, almost hypnotic sound. The second piece, Delicate Sabbath, seems to involve some modern sensibilities - the synths are very similar to what Pure Reason Revolution does at times, but through the addition of other instruments it becomes more organic. There are also strong Oriental/Middle-Eastern influences. Then suddenly there is a turn to jazz/fusion with wind instruments! The ending of the piece is even Latin-flavoured. What a wide variation. Nice!
Dei Miei Sospiri brings something very different with an electronic, floating, cosmic opening.
Even more different is Fellow Travellers which has clarinet in a leading role, adding a flair of Klezmer and jazz, then incorporating some dance sensibilities too.
As the title indicates, Lovers Second Leap (wonder whether there is a hint towards Genesis here), is romantic with acoustic guitars and keys, This is a bit how I remembered the Notturno Concertante of old.
Finis Terrae brings us back to the Middle-Eastern influences and also the CD's longest track, Handful Of Hopes, is very dense and ethnic-flavoured. Mild ethnic influences are also found in the uplifting closer Evidence Of Invisible.
The album as a whole brings varied instrumental music that is progressive in the literal sense of the word, and evidence that even bands that have been around for almost four decades can reinvent themselves, while retaining some of their roots.
***+ Carsten (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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