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(62:05, Mellow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Mitopoiesi 5:32 2. Sorridi 6:57 3. Cliff of Moher 5:02 4. Senza Di Me 6:22 5. Ricordi 7:40 6. Torno a Casa 3:07 7. Tenochtitlan 1521 7:43 8. Eterno Ritorno 6:36 9. Il Dolce Canto Della Terra 13:06 LINEUP: Dario Gallotta – guitars Luciano Gallotta – guitars Pietro Saviano – bass; vocals; flute; programming Salvadores Arcoleo – organ, piano, keyboards Massimiliano Vacca – drums
Prolusion. CORAL CAVES is a five-piece hailing from Palermo, Italy. Formed in 2001 by bassist/vocalist Pietro Saviano and drummer Stefano Bartolomei (who has since left the band), they started out as a Pink Floyd tribute band (their name comes from a line in their 1970 song ‘Echoes’); then, after a few line-up changes, began writing their own material. “Mitopoiesi”, with a cover featuring a painting by Palermo-born artist Alessia Bennardo comprises songs recorded between 2005 and 2007.
Analysis. First-time listeners to “Mitopoiesi” could be forgiven for expecting an hour of hypnotic sounds and atmospheres in the style of vintage Pink Floyd, and for being quite probably disappointed at the end of the album. Indeed, in spite of the band’s name and beginnings, Coral Caves’ debut album seems to owe more to the time-honoured tradition of Italian melodic prog than to the legendary English outfit (though, as I will point out later, Pink Floyd can certainly be counted among the band’s chief sources of inspiration). Not uncommonly for an Italian band, Coral Caves openly declare their debt towards some of the greats of Italian music of the Sixties and Seventies, such as the sadly missed Lucio Battisti. In true progressive fashion, they have no qualms in admitting their love for all genres of music, even those (like swing) that the more elitist prog fans would not touch with the proverbial ten-foot pole. Such eclectic tastes result in an eminently listenable album, whose ten songs are executed with passion and style, blending the inimitable Italian flair for melody with influences from classic rock and prog. If compared with other Italian debut releases of the past two or three years, Coral Caves’ sound is definitely more accessible, even conservative. Unlike bands such as Yugen or Garamond (to name but two), they do not take risks: their songs are mostly of the soothing, relaxed mid-tempo variety, enhanced by Pietro Saviano’s expressive vocals, Dario Gallotta’s fluid, clean guitar work (at times quite reminiscent of David Gilmour’s), and Salvadores Arcoleo’s rich keyboard textures. At times the songs come across as a rockier version of the traditional ‘cantautore’ (singer-songwriter) style, especially as regards Saviano’s vocal interpretation; while there are moments in which some harder-edged touches can be detected – as in the title-track, whose brisk organ background is somewhat reminiscent of the likes of Deep Purple or Uriah Heep. The previously mentioned Pink Floyd influences are at their most evident in the guitar solos, with that slow-burning, majestic build-up so characteristic of the English band’s sound. The album’s epic, Il Dolce Canto Della Terra, closes with an extended solo much in the style of ‘Comfortably Numb’, though the guitar here occasionally interacts with the piano. However, the strongest Pink Floyd vibe is to be found in the dark, intense Tenochtitlan 1521, dedicated to the fall of the Aztec empire, featuring a slow, solemn opening and a truly commanding vocal performance, bolstered by guitar and organ. At the poppier end of the spectrum we find Cliffs of Moher, a standard verse-chorus-verse offering enhanced by Saviano’s impassioned vocals; while almost unexpected jazzy touches lurk in Torno a Casa, the shortest track on the album. Senza Di Me, on the other hand, is a typical classic rock ballad, melancholy and introspective in mood, with a lengthy guitar/organ coda – nothing wildly original, but a pleasing listen nonetheless. Even if Coral Caves may be somewhat low in terms of ‘prog quotient’, so to speak, they score highly as regards melody and listenability. Their music, never overly complex or laboured, has an easy flow that will definitely appeal to fans of those subgenres of prog that are closer to the mainstream. The endearingly na?ve painting on the album cover also deserves a mention, especially for being quite different from the average prog cover artwork - though it might in some ways remind the observer of a less baroque version of Marillion’s “Script of a Jester’s Tear”.
Conclusion. “Mitopoiesi”, though by no means innovative, is a well-crafted debut from a gifted new outfit, which will please fans of both Italian music (not necessarily prog) and classic rock. There are enough progressive elements to appeal to lovers of prog, and the quality of the musicianship is solid throughout. Definitely a band with potential, even if not too strong on the originality front – at least for the time being.
RB=Raffaella Berry: December 10, 2009
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