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TRACK LIST: 1. Men I Met 4:26 2. When I Lose 5:39 3. Walking and Talking 6:16 4. Limbo 7:40 5. Wet of Sky 2:21 6. My World 4:55 7. Bridge to Maya 5:21 8. Synaptic Ghost 5:02 9. Sun Beyond Time 2:41 10. Flat Stone 5:04 11. Mad and Child-I 6:07 12. Mad and Child-II 4:08 13. Mad and Child-III 7:34 14. Mad and Child-IV 4:06 LINEUP: Mose Nodari – guitars; oboe, recorders Marco Strobel - guitars, mandolin Paolo Lucchina - vocals Luigi Bonacina - bass Francesco Vedani - drums, flute
Prolusion. The Italian outfit COURT was founded in 1990, and released two albums to critical acclaim during the following decade. After several years with assorted line-up changes, the band stabilized shortly after the millennium, recorded a demo in 2003, and then finally their new album, "Frost of Watermelon", was issued in 2007, eleven years after their second release "Distances".
Analysis. "Frost of Watermelon" is in many ways a nostalgic trip musically, exploring a mixture of symphonic rock and folk rock with a distinct ‘70s tinge to it, adding psychedelic elements to some compositions to create variation as well as to add tension. The songs are mostly mellow and always highly melodic, and the main focus for the band seems to be exploring moods and atmospheres rather than showcasing technical abilities. The acoustic guitar and the mandolin are central instruments in all the compositions, conveying melodies as well as enhancing atmospheres. The folk music influences in the sound are mostly due to the style of playing from these instruments, the mandolin in particular conveying a feel of Italian folk music, as well as making this particular listener think of “The Godfather” and other mafia movies. Further enhancing the folk music feel on the tunes is the use of flute and recorders, and although not prominent or dominating in the soundscape, the instruments add lots to the atmosphere of the individual composition when used. There are also quite a lot of symphonic elements to most compositions here, which I presume mainly is due to the use of oboe. While listening I could have sworn that I heard keyboards used to build up symphonic textures, but as the booklet doesn't list any keyboards used whatsoever, I presume the recorders, as well as the oboe, are the instruments used to add this dimension to the songs. The subtle symphonic textures are mainly added to the back of the landscape, adding a lush and harmonic atmosphere to the mostly mellow and melodic tunes. On some songs, most often in brief segments of an individual piece, slick electric guitar riffs in a distinct '70s psychedelic style are added, creating needed tension and variation to the sound. This particular style complements the folk and symphonic idiom dominating this release. There aren't too many weak elements here; the vocals may be a bit on the pale side and the band is not at their best when trying out a more distinct hard rock style on Wet of Sky. When that is said, there aren't too many really exceptional compositions here either. All tracks are well above average though (apart from the exception already mentioned), and overall this is a very good release.
Conclusion. Fans of progressive rock from the '70s, and in particular those who enjoy music with symphonic textures and folk-inspired compositions, should find this release highly interesting. And as this is an Italian band, performing symphonic rock music, followers of what is coined "Italian Symphonic Prog" will have one more release to add to their list of albums to check out.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 24, 2008
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