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(45:02, Radici Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Ahmed l'Ambulante 6:18 2. Young Man Gone West 3:47 3. Come il vento 4:37 4. Le Anime Belle 6.08 5. On Growing Older 2:15 6. The Price of Experience 4:45 7. Canzone Allo Specchio 4:30 8. La Milonga di Milingo 3:46 9. Lei Vede Rosso 7:01 10. Ark En Ciel 1:55 LINEUP: Lucio Lazzaruolo – guitars; keyboards Carmine Marra – sax, clarinet, whistle Raffaele Villanova – guitars; vocals Gabriele Moscaritolo – accordion Giuseppe Relmi - vocals Carmine Meluccio – violin Giuseppe D'Alessio – bass Antonio D'Alessio – bass Simone Pizza – drums With: Umberto Spiniello – drums Massimo De Feo – cello Raffaele Tiseo – violin Heidi Intingaro – b/v
Prolusion. The Italian band NOTTURNO CONCERTANTE has been a going concern for almost 20 years, citing 1984 as their year of formation. The first half of the 90's appears to have been their most active period, with a substantial amount of years between new album releases from the second half of the 90's and onwards. "Canzoni Allo Specchio" is their sixth full length production, following 10 years after their previous album.
Analysis. Italian progressive rock bands are generally known for certain features to their music, the most distinct of them being a dramatic atmosphere of some kind, frequently in the vocal department, but also in terms of compositional structure and arrangements. More often than not a certain touch of symphonic progressive rock will be present too, and majestic themes tend to be a surefire inclusion. But there are plenty of exceptions to be found too, and this latest release by Notturno Concertante is a pretty good example of that. Smooth, careful and melodic music is what this act presents on its 2012 production, with elegant male vocals on top. Dark in timbre, with a finely controlled smooth delivery, and pitch perfect throughout as well, without any dramatic tendencies to find whatsoever. Initially we're treated to half a dozen or so creations that opt for a folk rock oriented sound: dampened symphonic backdrops applied to harmonic, rather straightforward compositions employing accordion and violin to supplement the mostly acoustic guitars and piano as the main motif providers, tastefully backed by a controlled rhythm section, and with occasional flute inserts adding something of an emphasis to the folk-tinged stylistic expression. Smooth, elegant and fairly often impressive too, despite the fairly relaxed and accessible territories explored. The almost chamber music oriented piece On Growing Older is as good as an example as any, with its mellow acoustic guitar and cello opening growing into a strikingly harmonic creation as piano, accordion, violin and what I suspect is a clarinet is added to the soundscape. As the album unfolds the saxophone becomes an increasingly important presence too, and the overall style itself shifts too, steadily developing towards a more distinct jazz expression. Jazz of the most accessible kind that is, generally void of elaborate themes and instrumental flamboyance, with saxophone, acoustic guitar and the rhythm section central, while accordion and violin carefully flavor the proceedings. This latter part of this CD is the least interesting to my ears, mostly because the band treads upon territories extensively explored by others without managing to include an excellence in composition or performance that is markedly more interesting than the hundreds of other artists that have explored the same grounds on previous occasions. Performance and production are impeccable throughout however, which does elevate the listener experience even when the band strides off into fairly well known and predictable territories, and for those with a taste for art and aesthetics in general their book style CD cover with plenty of artful illustrations and presentations is probably worth mentioning too.
Conclusion. Notturno Concertante have made themselves a solid sixth full length production, a smooth and well produced affair that emphasizes on accessible, harmonic melodies and finely controlled arrangements. As it is a CD that broadly can be described as progressive folk rock for the first half and accessible but sophisticated jazz-oriented music in the latter half, and those who tend to enjoy both of these stylistic expressions explored in an accessible manner should be a key audience for this album.
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