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(53:06, Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Treni di Passagio 8:02 2. Tornando 2:46 3. Cronaca Persa 22:02 4. Il Tram del Topo 1:09 5. La Soluzione Semplice 6:03 6. Passeggiata 1:31 7. Il Vento di Nauders 11:38 LINEUP: Roberto Magni – mandolin, guitars; programming Oriano Dasasso – piano, synthesizer Paolo Nannetti – Mellotron, organ Valerio Roda – basses Oria Cenecchi – drums Marco Giovannini – vocals
Prolusion. The Italian band SITHONIA was formed in the second half of the ‘80s. Issued last year, “La Soluzione Semplice” is its fifth full-length album.
Analysis. With the release of “La Soluzione Semplice”, the outfit’s first CD of new material in 13 years, the band proves decisively that their talents are almost as fresh and vital as ever, still playing vintage-style symphonic Art-Rock of a moderate complexity. There are many of their signature compositional features on the seven tracks here, such as themes that gradually develop and unfold to achieve climatic moments of both beauty and power. Dramatic, shifting sonic panoramas and tasty explorative passages, built by Mellotron, organ, bass and drums, are the basis for bright (yet never flashy) soloing from guitars, synthesizers and piano. The arrangements vary from the majestic to calmer moments to – at times – heavier ones that have marked the music of classics of the genre, such as Genesis and Banco in the mid-70s, as well as Camel – only when going totally symphonic. The effective use of dynamics has always been a main strength of Sithonia’s compositions, and the contrast between gentle melodic sections and the intensity of band crescendos makes the listening experience especially exhilarating. Two of the three longest tracks here, the semi-epic Treni di Passagio and Il Vento di Nauders (which are largely and almost purely instrumental respectively), both twist and turn in a state of perpetual flux, only occasionally turning back to a previously stated theme, which keeps them interesting over the long haul. Located in the middle of the album, the 22-minute Cronaca Persa was certainly designed as its centerpiece, but is somewhat lacking in diversity to bear the palm. While the music seems to be ever-changing, much of it is slow-paced, so I kinda failed to take the epic as a full-fledged sympho-prog suite. It does contain episodes that are full of thrilling, dynamically evolving musical events, yet not enough to keep my attention throughout. Anyhow, although not a masterpiece, this is undoubtedly a good composition. Of the three shorter items, Il Tram del Topo and Tornando are both in many ways remarkable. Nowhere is the structural contrast more notable than on these two, particularly on the latter. An instrumental piece, it begins and finishes as hard-edged Symphonic Prog, building into an intense climax of heavy guitars, swirling keyboards and pulsating drums in its finale. The real surprise, however, is a sudden shift into a trio of acoustic guitar, piano and Mellotron that takes place… yes, sure, at the core of the composition. The remaining cut, Passeggiata, appears as a piano-based intro to Il Vento di Nauders. Finally, La Soluzione Semplice, is rather mellow in nature, almost a ballad, which, nonetheless, has a distinct classic art-rock quality to it.
Conclusion. “La Soluzione Semplice” is another noteworthy effort by one of the rare Italian bands ‘hailing’ from the ‘80s that have been able to retain quite a high standard of quality all over a lengthy musical activity. It comes recommended to lovers of symphonic Art-Rock, especially those who prefer its mid-to-late ‘70s creations to those from the decade’s earlier years.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: February 7, 2012
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