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Unreal City - Il Paese Del Tramonto CD (album) cover

IL PAESE DEL TRAMONTO

Unreal City

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.01 | 375 ratings

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MELNIBONÉ
5 stars When they came to Québec city in the Spring of 2014, Unreal City played "La Crudeltà Di Aprile" in full, but also performed a few pieces from their future album. Back home, I wrote to friends that, from what I had heard, I wasn't worried at all about the content of their sophomore album (contrary to numerous other young bands, especially those whose first album had been an equally stunning success). Now that "Il Paese Del Tramonto" is available, I could validate my assertion.

From the outset, I must admit that I'm unable to determine whether "Il Paese Del Tramonto" is better than "La Crudeltà Di Aprile", or the other way around. In fact, the overall quality, the invention and talent displayed, the inspiration and execution are such in both cases that to play the game of "better than" is but a waste of time.

"Il Paese Del Tramonto" defines a state between life and death, a sort of limbo. The concept album tells the story of a man who, having committed a crime of passion, dreams that he is judged and sentenced by his own conscience to eternal damnation into this limbo, where he regresses to cellular life, without any will of his own. Upon this dark and dramatic canvas, the four young musicians have weaved a sonic tapestry which is by turns vivid, gloomy and mournful, dense and delicate. There are frills and laces, but also power unleashed, musical influences from a vast array of horizons, but also a sure and definite loyalty to the band's own musical signature (already !), in other words a richness used with rare aplomb. Even though the pièce de résistance, "Ex Tenebrae Lux", encompasses by itself all the qualities of this opus and its creators, the other pieces that lead to it brim with original motifs, shades, detours and effects that never become formulas. To find such enduring musical maturity within such young musicians is enough to warrant deep respect and admiration.

By RPI standards, Unreal City are a generous lot ? "Il Paese Del Tramonto" clocks at almost 70 minutes, which is close to 10 minutes more than the first album. There are seven pieces, the shortest clocking at 5:01, the longest at 20:34, and the others ranging between 7 and 10 minutes. The line-up is the same, except for F. Orefice replaced by Dario Pessina on bass, who seems to be a bit more deft than the former ? he excels particularly on "Ex Tenebrae Lux". Also, guitarist Francesca Zanetta handles the mellotron. It's worth noting that her presence on the album is stronger than before ; she plays more, better and with greater variety, as can be heard particularly on "Oniromanzia", "La Meccanica Dell'Ombra", "Il Nome Di Lei" and "Ex Tenebrae Lux". Emanuele Tarasconi reigns over the keyboards with as much brilliance as ever, showing a stunning finesse and lushness in his orchestrations (that are not devoid of quirky humor ? or glee ?, as can be heard in the otherwise unsettling "Caligari"). Rythmic sequences and ambient variations cascade with frenzy or move one into the other with the softness of some lullaby, but always with a surprising melodic twist. The piano part are simply gorgeous, elegant and remarquably subtle, classic here, jazzy or bluesy there, and the organ parts are second to none, magnificent throughout. Tarasconi may not have the greatest voice among his RPI colleagues ? and he probably knows it ? but he's sensible and intelligent enough to use it as he does : true to traditional RPI singing (somewhere between Le Orme's A. Tagilapietra and Banco's F. di Giacomo), with just enough theatrics and emphasis Italian style (all the while with flawless diction and musicality), but also with a palpable passion and fun that are buoyant and juvenile without shame or restraint. In other words, an invigorating shot of vitamimns ! Federico Bedostri is still as convincing a drummer as he was previously (he does know how to rock the house when need be), providing a solid base without being monolithic, from which Tarasconi and Zanetta can soar and/or plummet at ease without fear that their musical acrobatics might lead them astray, as "Lo Schermo Di Pietra" shows with brio.

With "Il Paese Del Tramonto", Unreal City demonstrate that their inspiration has far from dried up and that their execution of the opus is up to its richness. Usually, that sort of confidence and accuracy is synonymous with more seasoned and experienced musicians, but Unreal City clearly show that "In souls nobly born, valour does not depend upon age". So, until the band visits your neighborhood eventually, do yourself a favor ? buy "Il Paese Del Tramonto"? then play it back to back with "La Crudeltà Di Aprile" and you'll know what is RPI body and soul !...

5 limbos without hesitation

PS By the way, if you feel that tszirmay's review below is overblown ? you're totally wrong ! Although he is as gifted with words as ever, this time his depictions of each track haven't managed to bring out the fullness of what Unreal City have layered in "Il Paese Del Tramonto"? It's that rare sort of album.

MELNIBONÉ | 5/5 |

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