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(57:37, Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Le Pletre Blanche 6:21 2. Le Voci di Derry 5:15 3. Geordie 4:21 4. Gerard Duval Tipografo 7:16 5. Pee-Wee & the Quaker 4:49 6. Una Staglone all’Inferno 4:11 7. Bettogli 1991 8:00 8. Quando qui Disteza 2:59 9. An Dro & Dies Irae 7:36 10. La Canzone di Salvatore 6:47 LINEUP: Antonio Pincione – classical guitar, mandolin, bouzouki Jacopo Bisagni – Uillean pipes, flute, whistles Gabriele D’Ascoli – acoustic bass; percussion Davide Lazzaroni – vocals; flutes; percussion Micaela Guerra – vocals; percussion Chiara Vatteroni – Celtic harp Marino Salvetti – violin
Prolusion. Since its formation in 1997, the Italian outfit BEDEDEUM has been fairly intensively gigging, using any opportunity they had to play live, giving concerts in their homeland as well as outside it. I believe their concert repertoire consists (at least consisted until now) predominantly of others’ creations, since “Oltre Il Sipario” is only their second release to date, following “Brevistele” from 2002.
Analysis. To my mind, the main conception conveyed by this ensemble on this particular album is to bring together traditional West European folk tunes (which are rooted in medieval music) and modern Symphonic Progressive – by using exclusively acoustic, folk and chamber, instruments on the one hand and by avoiding any typically rock features on the other. Seven of the disc’s ten tracks, Una Staglone all’Inferno, Quando qui Disteza, Le Pletre Blanche, Gerard Duval Tipografo, Geordie, Bettogli 1991 and La Canzone di Salvatore, fully suit the above stylistic idiom. However, the first two of these deploy Spanish ethnic colorations as their folk component, whilst all the others British/Celtic ones (save one of the segments of Geordie where Gabriele D’Ascoli demonstrates his slap technique on bass). The sympho-prog ingredient of the recording’s primary style is somewhat less distinct than you already know what on the first five of these (which are the most challenging compositions here, where even quasi-improvisations pop up in places) and vice versa on the latter two where, in turn, the chord progressions are much more basic and which are complicated ballads in the final analysis. As to allusions, Steve Hackett comes to mind while listening to each of the quoted pieces, but infrequently – when only classical guitar and flute are in the arrangement, whereas the Iona connection, while absent on the two ’Spanish’ compositions, is much more often palpable. Well, what has been said only concerns the instrumental level of the primary-style tracks, while with their vocal angle (yes, all of them have lyrics, though there are comparatively few of those on about a half of them) I detect three different styles/approaches: operatic, pop and one, say, of the ensemble’s native progressive rock school of singing, the latter being prevalent. The vocals are provided either by Micaela Guerra alone (her main melody on Quando qui Disteza reminding me pretty much of that on Roman Holidays by Mattia Bazar) or – in most cases – by her along with Davide Lazzaroni; both of them are highly versatile singers and have just charmed me with their mastery, to say the least. Save that on Una Staglone all’Inferno and Quando qui Disteza, both of which feature castanets and no Uillean pipes or Celtic harp either, the instrumentation is much the same nearly everywhere on the recording, embracing a classical guitar, both the previously mentioned instruments, whistles and/or flutes, acoustic bass, mandolin, bouzouki and tambourines – listed in line of descent according to their contribution to the music. The remaining three tracks, Pee-Wee & the Quaker, An Dro & Dies Irae and Le Voci di Derry, all have a much stronger folk quality to them. On the first two of these, which are instrumentals, the ensemble builds a structure where the simplicity of chordal progressions is well compensated for by an eclectic performance, so the end result is fairly impressive, both the pieces coming across as complicated interpretations of Celtic dances, with occasional elements of acoustic Art-Rock. However, Le Voci di Derry sounds like a traditional Celtic song throughout and is the sole vocal-heavy track here. Oh, almost forgot: three of the ensemble’s participants are heralded in the booklet as percussionists, but of the twelve tracks only An Dro & Dies Irae involves real percussion instruments, namely congas. As for tambourines, I personally regard them as something halfway between (silent) rattles and shakers, and they sound just so on this recording. Of course, it’s all just merely remarked on and doesn’t matter much. What’s really important is that, save Le Voci di Derry (perhaps like any traditional folk song, it’s too repetitive to challenge the progressive ear), all the tracks here, the ballad-like ones included, sound fresh and compelling.
Conclusion. If you’re exclusively into classic Progressive Rock (Metal, Fusion, etc) you might find this recording a bit too airy as well as – too easily – accessible. However if progressive folk, i.e. not necessarily rock, music is part of your listening diet you will certainly find “Oltre Il Sipario” to be a very palatable album, at least overall. Personally I’m so much impressed with it that, at least at the moment, I consider it to be one of last year’s twenty best releases, meaning among those that I’m acquainted with, of course: Top-2008.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: July 1, 2009
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