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Nema Niko (Italy) - 2000 - "Mio Scialbo"
(51 min, Lizard)


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TRACK LIST:                             
                
1.  Est 3:01
2.  Euphonium 5:56
3.  Araba Fenice 6:50
4.  Piccolo Tango 3:27
5.  Composizione di Sentimenti 4:42
6.  Osservo le Moe Mani 7:52
7.  Insomnia 3:14
8.  Mio Scialbo 2:25
9.  Clessidra 23:28

Music: by Nema Niko.
Lyrics: by Tuppo.

LINE-UP:

Marco Tuppo - vocals; electric bass & guitar
Luca Boldrin - keyboards & piano
Veiro Boldrin - drums & percussion
Andrea Albanese - classical & electric guitar

Prolusion. NEMA NIKO is a young Italian band, which has two albums for the present. The hero of this review, "Mio Scialbo" was released in 2000 and was followed by "La Storia dell'Uomo che Incontro s Stesso" in 2002.

Analysis. There is no real singing on this album, although lyrics play a rather important role and are part of the music on all the tracks, except the opening one, Est, which is also the only instrumental here. The storyteller is bassist Marco Tuppo. I don't understand Italian, but I like his poetically dramatic narration, especially for being diverse in emotions. Nevertheless, this way of delivering lyrics is not something unique or outstanding either, and, just for instance, Nema Niko's countrymen Antonius Rex had used it thirty years ago. The instrumental palette is much more original and does not have analogs, at least on the contemporary Prog scene. Only with many reservations, some parallels can be drawn between "Mio Scialbo" and Pink Floyd's "Meddle" and "A Saucerful of Secrets". This is a highly imaginative music, which gets most of its power from well-conceived and perfectly fulfilled contrasts in texture and atmosphere. The style is something average between symphonic Space Rock and a vintage psychedelic Progressive with some avant-garde tendencies. To a great extent, it concerns all the compositions, though two of them are notable for something different in addition. Araba Fenice contains distinct elements of Oriental music, and Osservo le Moe Mani those of Space Metal. Five out of the nine tracks are quite long, with one being kind of a sidelong epic, so the band had enough room for large-scale maneuvers. The alternation of harmoniously integrated and unstructured interplay between solos of bass, electric guitar, synthesizer, drums and congas and passages of classical guitar and piano is typical for each of them. However, Araba Fenice, Euphonium and Composizione di Sentimenti are characterized by the prevalence of moderately slow arrangements, the 23-minute Clessidra is diverse in tempo, and Osservo le Moe Mani is intensive almost in its entirety. Each of these is largely instrumental, and the music is usually so much sophisticated that it's impossible to take in all its depth upon the first spin. The short: Piccolo Tango, Insomnia and the title track are fluid and have somewhat a fragile sound. These don't contain unexpected changes of tempo and mood, but while less intricate, they are hardly less mesmerizing than the others. In fact, the aforementioned instrumental Est is the only instantly accessible composition on the album.

Conclusion. With repeated listens, the charm of Nema Niko's "Mio Scialbo" becomes more and more apparent, which is always a sign of unfeigned progressive music. This is a really admirable debut and would be an excellent introduction to the band, which explores uncommon Space Rock dimensions. Recommended in general and is a must for connoisseurs of the genre.

VM: November 7, 2004


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