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Raven Sad - 2008 - "Quoth"

(52:48, Lizard Records)


*****+
                 
TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Have No Time 5:11
2.  Night 2:29
3.  Stars 3:54
4.  Ravens Floating in Space 4:40
5.  Talk to Me 3:52
6.  Those Good Words 5:37
7.  The Sad Raven Song 6:15
8.  Bartender 3:48
9.  Try to Understand 5:20
10. The Hell We Have 4:05
11. Raven's Journey 3:26
12. In the End 4:11

LINEUP:

Samuele Santanna  vocals; guitars, bass; loops
Gabriele Cecconi  keyboards, piano
Fabrizio Trinci - keyboards, synths
Luca Boldrin  synthesizers; flute
Giacomo Cipriani  bass 
Fausto Amatucci  drums
Cosimo Chiaramonti  vocals 
Giulia Bizzarri  vocals 
Marco Tuppo  samples

Prolusion. RAVEN SAD is a project instigated by Samuel Santanna in 2005, where the aim is to create emotionally challenging music utilizing elements from folk, psychedelic and progressive rock mixed with electronic textures and ambient passages. "Quoth", issued in 2008 on Italian label Lizard Records, is the first album issued in this ongoing project, with a follow-up set for release in the spring of 2009.

Analysis. This debut album from Samuel Santanna and the various musicians involved in this production follows a set theme: This creation explores one (or more) of Edgar Allan Poes verses from "The Raven", although which of them is not specified. Not merely a lyrical inspiration in this case though; one might say that the spirit of this rather bleak poem defines most aspects of this creation the overall theme obviously, but also the mood and atmosphere is one bleak and slightly ominous and done in a manner I do believe Poe himself would have applauded: Careful, calm and without utilizing melodramatic effects or stark contrasting opposites either. Indeed, these explorations may be described as lush and mellow to some extent, although these words do conjure associations towards pleasant emotions too, and in this case words like brooding, ominous and even schizophrenic are more obvious choices than pastoral and harmonic. And the album opens up in a delightful eerie manner, with ghostly sounds mixed with a clock-like sound that runs a tad too fast, creating a disturbing atmosphere. This atmospheric exploration evolves into a melancholic, mellow creation closer to a standard singer-songwriter venture, and this transition made me somewhat disappointed, I must admit. The following track Night continues this mood, a nice enough creation but nothing really gripping. After this the album starts to take on more fascinating moods. Carefully mixing space-tinged and psychedelic elements with the mellow acoustic guitar and vocal explorations, adding unnerving elements and slightly disturbing effects in a very careful and deliberate manner and throwing in atmospheric instrumental excursions like the space-tinged Ravens Floating In Space that venture out into rather different musical territories altogether. As the album evolves these unnerving and slightly disturbing tendencies become more and more dominant, with a brief detour towards the opening tracks with the piece Bartender, which sort of breaks the ominous atmosphere created up till that creation. However, following this composition are three wanderings that for me at least are the highlights of this production, where the mix of folk-inspired mellow escapades with ominous and brooding effects are mixed to perfection. The final composition In the End initially starts off as an anticlimax following these stunning compositions, with a slow, mellow singer-songwriter type of song as it starts. In a stroke of genius samples are used to create some really disturbing atmospheres as this piece evolves, at first using sampled commercials in the background underscoring the dark and brooding lyrics served in this song; then after a brief pause samples of audience laughter of almost hysterical proportions are placed far back in the mix underscoring the rather bleak lyrics expressed in the song itself creating an almost unreal, schizophrenic atmosphere. Floating spacey synths and samples are used as effects elsewhere on this production to good effect as hopefully described to some extent above, and even a droning Indo/raga-inspired segment is utilized perfectly. The mellow passages with acoustic guitars and vocals are the only weak spots on this production as I regard it. Although they are needed to create contrasts they become just a bit too plain compared to the innovative, carefully detailed ventures that makes up most of this production, hence not a full score for this album.

Conclusion. "Quoth" is a production that should appeal to most people looking for mellow, carefully assembled psychedelic progressive rock, in particular if intrigued by dark and slightly unnerving moods and atmospheres. The compositions as such are mostly innovative and at times really creative, and even though it has a few weak points this is an album that can be heartily recommended.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 9, 2009
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Lizard Records
Raven Sad


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