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RanestRane - A Space Odyssey, Part Two - H.A.L. CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.91 | 105 ratings

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4 stars Ranestrane is a Rome 'based Italian group that does NOT fit into the classic RPI mode, as they opt for a more conventional methodology, staying away from the classic RPI ingredients of injecting such influential details as operatic vocals, pastoral acoustic tinges, wild changes of pace and mostly, the tried and true influence of canzone, Italian folk/popular music that gives it such character. Though they are listed here as RPI, the focus is more on Floydian soundscapes, elongated mood samples on which the soloists (Massimo Pomo the guitarist and the talented keysman Riccardo Romano). In fact, at the very best, Ranestrane encompass a new and modern style of prog that looks at the future and less at the past. Ironically, the theme here is both an old and a new one, clearly proving once and for all, how the 60s minds were deeply forward-thinking and futuristic, as Arthur C. Clarke's monumental masterwork '2001 Space Odyssey' really remains far-flung, even by today's standards. Yes, we know, the latest I-Phones have more memory than the Apollo missions to the moon combined but the concept of computers having a soul and feeling regret, like HAL, WOPR (Wargames) and Colossus (Colossus: The Forbin Project) was quite a stunner back then but if you look up the number of movies where computers take over the world, you will be wired out!

Ranestrane made quite a deal with Marillion's stalwart guitarist Steve Rothery as a backing band for his solo live Steve Rothery in Rome, with Romano even invited to play on the stupendous 'Ghosts of Pripyat' album. Only fitting that the Marillion man returns the favour by guesting on Ranestrane's 'Monolith-live in Rome' (2014) extravaganza. Needless to say, we are in tremendously gifted territory and as such 'HAL- Monolith Part2 'is the furtherance of the Monolith concept, all referring to the black floating obelisk that has puzzled and startled readers and movie goers for over 45 years. Interspersed with samples of HAL's monochrome voice, a tone both puerile and evil, the tale takes on conceptual form in a naturally efficient sci-fi style that just takes the listener to another plane of enjoyment.

As befitting the subject matter, the operatic 'Jupiter Mission' sets the tone right from the start, almost an overture to a modern soundtrack for this hallowed 60s cinema classic, docking into the sophisticated and Italian-sung theme of 'Discovery One', which seeks the instill both a sense of voyage and song, with both guitarist Massimo Pomo and keysman Riccardo Romano doing a stellar job of setting the right cosmic mood. This segues naturally into the instrumental jewel 'Broadcast News', a heady mixture of multiple voice snippets, various sonic effects as well as exalted playing by the synthesizer, piano and electric guitar, in an overtly bombastic fashion that hits the emotional mark successfully. HAL gets to 'speak' in a media interview and begin defining his eventual 'humanity', as Romano's refined piano duels with cymbal slashes and the rumbling undertow of Maurizio Meo's fretless low end. The resulting music is 'foolproof and incapable of error'. 'Freddo al Cuore' sparkles with deepening melancholia, featuring a dramatic whispered vocal from drummer Daniele Pomo, lush with delicate crispness and intensity, a sweltering synthesizer foray leading the charge. HAL then announces the first 'mistake', a fault in the 'AE-35' unit that is underlined by huge swaths of sorrowful synth loops and jangly piano amid colossal orchestrations and propellant rhythmic support. The main synth solo is squarely spectacular though simple in its execution, all of these natural sounds swim in a cosmic ocean of voice effects. 'Spacewalk' evokes the sense of floating and endless drift that the universe provides, echoing voices bouncing off the passing asteroids and a sizzling guitar/synth booster fuel duel that excites and explodes the senses. There is little doubt that the musicianship is deliberately restrained yet highly creative, just enough pizzazz to effectively titillate the senses and move to the next plateau. Guest Steve Rothery unleashes one of his patented bursts, a whopping and glorious comet that whizzes by at the speed of sound. Back to the song in 'La perfezione che si cerca', a tune that reattaches the Italian vocals to the whole, here with a typical RPI-like delivery (wink, nod) and a relatively straightforward modern prog piece that broods and soothes equally. The mid-section fusions Floydian exhilaration with an almost soundtrack-like theme, sweet and eternal. Rothery again caresses his fretboard like only he can, full of romantic inference and dazzling efficiency. 'Sono Come Morte' is the longest track at 7 minutes+ , boosted with more sampled commentary (a trait which would normally distract but not here, as it clearly parallels the story-line) and a hyper-mood that underlines the weirdness of space travel and all its fatalistic impulses. This is perhaps the trippiest track here, even though there are more Italian vocals but the overall feel is one of a frozen and dying cosmic corpse plugged into some electronic machine, with a main refrain that is absolutely cinematographic (sounding almost like an old Bond theme). Ponging electronics lead into the gorgeous piano and voice duet of 'Buio Interno', a diminutive yet striking ballad of intense purpose, Pomo really showing off a strong and operatic voice. But the true highlight of this recording remains the massive finale, the aptly titled 'Computer Malfunction', a sensational piece of bravura and pathos, completely bombastic with those patented 'zipper' synth slashes, the anxious drumming, amid arching crescendos and rash guitar orbits.

Yeah, this is a really entertaining discovery, a remarkable challenge and a brilliant endeavor. Fans of sci-fi and prog- rock are most welcome to join the ride.

4.5 kubricks

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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