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Aurora Lunare - Aurora Lunare CD (album) cover


Aurora Lunare


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.10 | 35 ratings

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4 stars Over thirty years is a long time to take to release a debut album for a band formed in the late Seventies! That's the case with Aurora Lunare, an Italian progressive band who got together way back in 1978, sadly at a time when interest in adventurous rock music was mostly on the wane. After regrouping a little while back and proving their worth on various tribute albums to such bands as Yes, Marillion and the Flower Kings, 2013 now finally brings us their superb proper debut, and it's more than worth the wait. The self titled disc is a keyboard dominated tour-de-force with charismatic theatrical vocals in the typical grand Italian romantic fashion, with symphonic Genesis and E.L.P flavours and even some surprising moments of tasteful darkness more along the lines of Goblin. Add in a use of narration, classical drama and unpredictable experimentation to put it firmly in the proud RPI tradition of daring genre-pushing releases. Only a questionable lapse of judgment right at the very end of the disc stops it being virtually faultless, but read on and make your own decisions.

What a showcase opening track `Evasione di un'idea' is for both keyboard players in the band Mauro Pini (who is also the singer) and Stefano Onorati - an exhausting display of whirling duel- tracked Moogs, twinkling electric piano, coarse Hammond organ and fierce Mellotron blasts. The piece has a rollicking snap to it, like the classic P.F.M pieces of old such as `E Festa', with plenty of thick bass, punchy drumming, and a pleasing vocal chorus that is both triumphant and stirring, mostly due to the relishing menacing roll to Mauro's theatrical-styled vocals. The melancholic classical piano dominated `Eroi invincibili...' offers very Genesis-influenced regal pomp, with wistful flute reflections and an epic Moog/church organ solo in the second half. Hostsonaten and La Maschera di Cera's Alessandro Corvaglia provides his distinctive raspy croon for a touch of class to good effect as well. Instrumental `Mondo Fantasmatico', with it's upbeat boppy tempo and buzzing Moog, recalls the quirkier synth-pop moments of Italian legends Goblin, some trilling flute also giving the piece a real spring in it's step. It unexpectedly turns into an ambient synth-scape in the middle, full of Gregorian-styled chants and howling winds, before an E.L.P-inspired epic finale.

The gloomy `Riflessi Indicativi' is full of tip-toeing piano, uneasy bass and washes of Mellotron behind more blistering Moog runs, Mauro's voice conveying sad longing throughout this spectral piece. We then hit a run of slightly shorter numbers, starting with `Corsa Senza Meta', a creeping and slightly malevolent experimental piece with darting flute, mocking spoken-word passages and wavering electronic effects. By comparison, `Secondo Dubbio' is a Hammond/Moog soaked groover with a catchy melody and foot-tapping playfulness that demonstrates the confidence of the band. `Interlunio' is a brief dirty and thrilling flute improvisation over low-key organ, the ghostly `Sfera Onirica' brings back the slightly kitschy dark Goblin theatrics with wicked Mellotron choirs and driving electric guitar soloing. So, eight superb tracks in a row, surely that means the band will finish on their best piece yet?

Frustratingly, the band decide to close the album on a cover of Le Orme's `All'infuori del Tempo / Ritorno al Nulla'. Now, it's not a lazy remake at all, they've given the pieces their own flair, the first more joyous and especially lovely. Guest female vocalist Greta Merli is a delight here, and there's a sweetly romantic quality when she and Mauro come together, complimenting each-other beautifully. They've also got Le Orme member Tolo Marton to play some guitar on the second piece, who brings a dangerous spiky sound, and the rest of the band add a ferocious energy to it. But due to their inclusion here, it means that much of the attention on this album will go to those cover versions, stealing the focus away from the strong original material of the band. The band should have been confident enough with their own material, or maybe just included the Le Orme numbers as bonus tracks. Well, they're right at the end of the disc, so let's treat them as bonus pieces!

It's a shame this album was released right at the end of 2013, as last year had already had several high-profile, high-quality releases such as the Ingrannagi della Valle and Unreal City debuts earning much of the attention. So let's pretend this came out in 2014 and start giving this exquisite release the same attention as those other two. `Aurora Lunare' is everything a symphonic progressive rock fan could ask for, and with setting the bar so high for a debut release, one has to wonder where the band can can go from here. Not bad for a group already over thirty five years into their career! Better late than never, and if this is what the band could have achieved back in the vintage era of the 70's, they'd possibly be being talked about as something very special from the heyday of the RPI genre now.

Four and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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