[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
TRACK LIST: 1. Round Midnight 7:48 2. Wounded 7:25 3. Killing the Angel 4:53 4. Lucifero 6:37 5. Slowmotion Streets 5:48 6. Learning to Live Under the Ground 10:24 7. Psychedelic Subway Ride 1:55 8. Nightmade Concrete 5:42 9. By the Way 1:57 All tracks: by Roversi & Cremoni, except 7: Menotti & Roversi, & 9: Roversi. LINE-UP: Christiano Roversi - keyboards David Cremoni - guitars Luca Palecci - vocals Mirko Tagliasacci - basses Massimiliano Sorrentini - drums With: Marco Remondini - cello (5) Francesca Leasi - oboe (5) Stefano Boccafoglia - speech (3) Giorgio Signoretti - sampling (3) Massimo Menotti - looping (7) Produced by Moongarden & D Sinico. Engineered by D Sinico.
Prolusion. Having followed the output of this Italian band, "Round Midnight" is the fourth album in Moongarden's discography. Prior to this, the only MOONGARDEN album I've heard was their second, >"Brainstorm of Emptyness" (sic), from eight years ago.
Synopsis. Archetype: Progressive Rock. Benefactors: Genesis and Marillion. Creed: Neo Symphonic Art-Rock. Two of the nine tracks on the 52-minute "Round Midnight" are very short and are about two minutes in length each: Psychedelic Subway Ride (7), which is the only instrumental piece here, and By the Way (9). The former consists of slowly moving passages of synthesizer and is rather featureless, while the latter presents excellent passages of piano along with vocals. It was an error to include the instrumental on the album, at least as a separate track, whereas By the Way is a nice and appropriate ending. The other songs are usually from five to seven minutes in duration, and almost all of them are submitted to a unified stylistic concept. It is time to express my view on the material as a whole. It is vastly different from "Brainstorm of Emptyness". Still with good lyrics in English, the songs, however, are usually vocal-heavy. Nevertheless, most of them are bewitching and are original, which is especially important, in my view. These are the album's title track, Wounded, Killing the Angel, and Nightmade Concrete (1, 2, 3, & 8), each representing a really excellent Neo Symphonic Art-Rock. All of them contain episodes where there is no rhythm section, and are only the melting sounds of Mellotron, beautiful passages of acoustic guitar, and soaring vocals. The music is either slow or moderately slow almost everywhere on the album, but for the most part, it radiates a sort of hypnotic effect. Lucifero and Slowmotion Streets (4 & 5) are the only two unoriginal songs here that, in addition, sound like tributes to the band's teachers in absentia. Both vocally and musically, Lucifero arouses immediate associations with Marillion circa "Holidays in Eden", and its follow-up with Mercy Street from Peter Gabriel's "So". In other words, both are the streamlined, highly modified versions of classic Genesis. All in all, even completely original Neo songs are closer to the Hogarth-era Marillion than to anything else. (There is no contradiction in the last sentence, really.) The song that I didn't mention so far is the longest track on the album, the 10-minute Learning to Live Under the Ground. This extravaganza is one of the brightest Art-Rock gems to appear in the new millennium. Like a foreign body in the album, it just casts all the possible impressions that the rest of material might bring to anyone unacquainted with Moongarden's creation at all, showing the real, truly vast potential of the band. Rather dark and dramatic, the song is largely instrumental and is a unique, highly complex and intriguing, just brilliant Symphonic Art-Rock with distinct elements of Cathedral Metal and some of those of Classical music.
Conclusion. Overall, the album shows that the problem of 'cross purposes', as it was in the case of "Brainstorm of Emptyness", does not trouble the band today when their principal intention is to reach as large an audience as possible. What can I add here? I am not going to call in question such tendencies, not at all. Besides, I would've been very glad if today's mainstream would've been at least more or less widely presented by such works as "Round Midnight".
VM: June 16, 2004
[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]