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(63:31 / Mellow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. La Revolution Bourgeoise-I 6:41 2. Le Mistificazioni dell'Ombra 11:32 3. Maschera di Cera 4:43 4. Sei Lacrime d'Ambra 7:14 5. Il Treno di Obuda 16:05 6. La Revolution Bourgeoise-II 17:06 LINEUP: Andrea Alberici - vocals Gianluca Avanzati - bass, Stick Giampietro Maccabiani - guitars, mandolin Daniele Manerba - keyboards, b/v Gustavo Pasini - drums, b/v
Prolusion. NOTABENE is an Italian band, formed in September 2003, whose self-titled debut album was released in 2005. "Sei Lacrime d'Ambra" is the sophomore release from them, and came out early in 2007.
Analysis. Notabene is one of many groups looking back in time to find sources of inspiration. The early 70's seems to be the time period the band like best, and unlike the majority of such bands these guys don't limit themselves to exploring one particular niche of the music that was made back then. The songs on "Sei Lacrime d'Ambra" come across as compositions with a high degree of variation both in structure and execution. There is a great deal of movement in styles, pace and moods on all tracks, mixing mellow and highly symphonic themes with rougher-sounding hard rock arrangements. In most tunes a laid back jazz influence will be found too. The main musical element on this release is the use of keyboards. Lush synths float above the soundscape or are mixed further back to enhance melodies. There's some pretty tasty organ playing adding darkness and depth to songs, and piano is used to enhance melodic lines as well as being the lead instrument when Notabene explore jazz-inspired moods in various tunes. The guitar work is another dominating feature; chops, riffs and soloing with a distinct 70's hard rock tinge to it are a central part of all the songs on this album. The end result is a style of music I personally would describe as hard symphonic prog rock. The individual songs are all well written and well performed. La Revolution Bourgeoise-I kicks it all off, a very good track exploring symphonic prog and hard rock, followed by Le Mistificazioni Dell'Ombra, another very good song. This one is epic in length, with a great deal of movement in style, mood and pace, from start to finish. Next up is Maschera Di Cera, a mellow affair in the symphonic prog/neo vein. It's a good and short track, but perhaps less interesting than the rest of the album. The title track adds a few folk touches to the style, resulting in some Jethro Tull sounding moments added to the overall mixture. Il Treno Di Obuda, the second epic track, combines symphonic prog, hard rock, some jazz-inflected elements and even a couple of King Crimson sounding themes (during its second half). La Revolution Bourgeoise-II is the last and longest track. It's another very good and interesting composition with influences from Rush and Pink Floyd added to the primary sonic architecture.
Conclusion. "Sei Lacrime d'Ambra" is a high quality release from Italian band Notabene, and should be interesting for fans of 70's symphonic-tinged rock in general, while fans of 70's Italian symphonic prog should add this one to their "needs to be checked out" list right away.
OMB=Olav M. Bjornson: January 3, 2008
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