O.A.K. - Giordano Bruno

(CD 2018, : 71:45, Aereostella/Immaginifica ARSIMM/1033)

The tracks:
  1- Campo Dè Fiori(5:23)
  2- Viator Temporis(4:44)
  3- Liber In Tiberi(5:50)
  4- Angeli Senza Ali(2:16)
  5- Circe(7:19)
  6- Diana/ Morgana(5:40)
  7- La Cena Delle beffe(5:46)
  8- Dreams Of mandragora(4:39)
  9- Danse Macabre(3:20)
10- The Globe(4:44)
11- Wittenberger Fuchstanz(7:59)
12- Un Valzer Per Il Mocenigo(5:32)
13- Sandali Rossi(8:23)
14- Campo Dè Fiori Reprise(3:40)

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About the band:
The prime mover, composer and musical brainchild of Italian prog formation O.A.K. (Oscillazioni Alchemico Kreative) is multi-instrumentalist Jerry Cutillo. In the early Seventies he witnessed Genesis, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Yes and Frank Zappa in the legendary Roman venue PalaEUR, as a young adolescent. Then Jerry started to study on an Elka console organ, dusted his sister's acoustic guitar and sold his bicycle to buy a second hand flute, determined to make professional music. His first professional experience was at the age of fifteen with a band called Albergo Intergalattico Spaziale. In the late Seventies he cut his hair, coloured it red and made himself ready for London, and the punk. Jerry also kept on buying every new Jethro Tull record hoping for new acoustic pearls, like Wond'ring Again and Witch's Promise. He swapped his keyboard for an electric guitar and amp and started to play guitar. Then bands came and went, and many songs were written. A new chapter was in the mid-Eighties when Jerry found himself in the European charts, named Moses with the silver record We Just, a dance-like song. In September '93 Jerry formed O.A.K., born as a band focused on own material but soon in the grip of cover mania. From that moment he decided to drag the three artistic souls of the band. First: playing tribute shows with ex Tull's members (in 2007 Jerry joined his musical hero Ian Anderson on stage during an Italian Jethro Tull Convention). Second: developing a strong interest towards ethnic music. Three: writing and recording material for new OAK albums with prog icons. In 2015 O.A.K. released their first album Viandanze and in 2018 the successor Giordano Bruno, this review is about that second album.

About the concept (Internet info):
Giordano Bruno was born as Filippo Bruno in 1548, in the Kingdom of Naples, Italy, as a son of a soldier. He studied at a monastery (he was taught about Aristoteles) and became a priest in 1572. His taste for free thinking and forbidden books soon caused difficulties and in 1573 he fled from Italy, due to a forthcoming indictment from the authorities. Then Giordano started a long journey through Europe. In England he published his work about cosmology, claiming that the earth moves around the sun, before Galileo. When he finally returned to Italy a few months later he was arrested for blasphemy and heresy, and put in prison in 1593. After seven years of trial Pope Clement VIII declared Bruno a heretic and the Inquisition issued a sentence of death in 1600. He was hung upside down naked before he was finally burned at the stake. A very cruel and sad end for a man who nowadays is considered as a 'courageous free thinker' and a 'martyr for science'. Because his daring and innovative ideas and work had much influence on later scientists and philosophers. How interesting that Jerry Cutillo decided to pay tribute to fellow Italian Giardino Bruno, a kind of unknown historical hero, resulting in the new double vinyl concept album Giordano Bruno. “This amazing progressive rock opera will be presented on stage with a special multimedia performance that captures the quintessence of Giordano Bruno his life and dreams. His travelling through Europe and England during the XVI century, together with his meetings of Kings and dignitaries of the day (like Henri III and Shakespeare), is highlighted by a two hour, hypnotic concert.” (website info)

About the music:
During my first listening session I got more and more excited. In my opinion O.A.K. has succeeded to translate Giordano Bruno his fascinating and eventful life in a captivating, varied and dynamic musical journey. And isn't that what genuine progressive rock is about?! Especially the variety in the 14 tracks, and within the songs is incredible. The one moment dreamy with warm twanging acoustic guitars and strong Italian vocals (evoking Jethro Tull's Aqualung era) or tender piano and delicate flute traverse. The other moment bombastic with fat synthesizer flights, powerful Hammond organ runs and majestic Mellotron layers or a mid-tempo featuring a propulsive rhythm-section. The variety in styles is also a very pleasant element: from obvious acoustic Jethro Tull inspired atmospheres or Classic Italian Prog (echoes of PFM) to avant-garde with swirling flute traverse and sumptuous Mellotron violins or hints from the Italian troubadour Angelo Branduardi (in Sandali Rossi, including a beautiful Mellotron choir sound). And O.A.K. delivers a superb rendition of Camille Saint Saens his Dance Macabre: a cheerful and dynamic climate with sparkling flute play and dreamy Mellotrons, blended with the sound of cynical laughs, classical meets prog, how exciting! The instrumentation on this album is breathtaking, not only Jerry Cutillo as a very versatile multi-instrumentalist, from guitars and keyboards to flute, mandolin, tubular bells and tin whistle. But also his wide range of guest musicians: David Jackson (VDGG) with powerful saxophone work, Sonja Kristina (Curved Air) with a celestial vocal contribution (reminding me of The Great Gig In The Sky from Pink Floyd) in Diana/Morgana, Maartin Allcock (Jethro Tull and Fairport Convention) his solid bass in Dance Macabre and Richard Sinclair (Caravan) with tender piano and melancholic vocals in the wonderful Dreams Of Mandragora. In order to emphasize the international journey by Giordano Bruno, Jerry has written the compositions not only for Italian vocals but also English (in Dreams Of Mandragora and The Globe) and even German (in the exciting and alternating Wittenberger Fuchstanz, also featuring passionate English vocals by Jenny Sorrenti).

Strong musical ideas, varied instrumentation, alternating compositions, outstanding musicians and a fascinating concept, so highly recommended!

**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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