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Corde Oblique - I Maestri Del Colore CD (album) cover


Corde Oblique


Prog Folk

3.17 | 4 ratings

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3 stars So much modern popular music these days is prepared and packaged for the download "industry", with the unfortunate result that art too often imitates life, becoming convenient and disposable. This is a far cry from the early 1970s when the gatefold sleeve ruled supreme, and more time was spent fondling it than would be considered appropriate today. But every so often a CD, yes, a CD, is released that recaptures that visionary spirit. CORDE OBLIQUE's Riccardo Prencipe utilized crowd funding to consummate "I Maestri Del Colore", the band's 6th release, and the result is as much a tribute to his fans as to bygone eras. To experience this recording merely as a download is to infer beauty from the skin out.

The meticulousness in the booklet extends to the citing of venerable sources of inspiration, dedications to loved ones and friends, and the acknowledgement of musical collaborators ranging from the more commercial side of neo folk (ARGINE) to Bulgarian kindred spirits (IRFAN) to venerable elder statespersons AKTUALA (actually on progarchives), to Neapolitan bands dedicated to the resurrection of ancient music (MICROLOGUS) among others. The alliances that CORDE OBLIQUE has forged, with both audience and contemporaries, appear to have quite dramatically affected the mood and approach musically.

While still operating in the realm of "progressive ethereal folk", and still recognizable as CORDE OBLIQUE particularly in the vocal sections, this eminence extends the more contemplative and less "pop oriented" trajectory of "Per Le Strade Ripetute". Vocals are much sparser, and Prencipe unchains the electric guitar, generally for acoustic styled plucking, but for a couple of heavy rhythms. Conventional drums are also deployed here and there. Yet neither of these traditional rock instruments do more than color the ancient sounding rhythms and melodies. More noteworthy is the inclusion of trumpet on a number of pieces, which can be hard to discern unless one is looking for it, utilizing long held notes rarely to the fore, and promotes the overall languid, mournful ambiance. Strings have never been second fiddle with CORDE OBLIQUE, and they continue to inject profundity and occasional vivacity. This is music to lose oneself in, and perhaps find one's older self connected more with the ancient sages.

The difficult arises when one evaluates this for a modern prog rock audience. Yes, prog fans do enjoy some of the self conscious but unsentimental instrumentals like "Papavero e memoria" and "Blubosforo", or the robotically chanted liturgy of "A fondo oro". The more folk oriented listener will appreciate Prencipe's inclusion of dramatic and gorgeous songs like "Il cretto nero", which were more plentiful on earlier albums. Few would deny the overall beauty of the sonic palette which does justice to the visuals on which it is based. Overall, though, I think that the rock quotient, minimal in earlier recordings, is almost non existent at this juncture, and the folk aspect is not as immediate as it had been, which is a bit of a failing, since folk music thrives on some degree of immediacy. As a result, I sometimes do lose myself herein, but perhaps not for the right reasons. That all does change in the last minute of the album, which I'm still puzzling over, a mashup of heavy rhythm guitar and drums hitherto unimagined in this group's lexicon of tranquility.

"I Maestri Di Colore" is a difficult album to rate, and I would almost prefer to just leave you with a review and call it a day, but that's not possible or even advisable. For its creator, It is a work of profound self respect and respect for all whom he has touched and been touched by. For its listeners, that respect is apparent and earned. I just wish it were a bit more engaging more often. 3.5 stars, reluctantly rounded down because, like all uncompromising art, it is forever engaged in a search for that elusive perfect match.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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