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Obscura - Le Cittą Invisibili CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.03 | 14 ratings

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2 stars Round Midnight's cousin

When we went on this musical journey we had no idea who or what part of ourselves we could have met. Maybe a friend we found amongst the notes of a record; maybe a place we imagined, covered with remembrance moist dust; maybe the breath of a dance coming out of our instruments. All the images and sensations that came with us on this journey found a sound in this record. In the end we discovered we had a bag full of amulets and multicolored clothes we collected along the way. Then, we could open the bag and let the booty sadly flow through our hands; we chose instead to speak with Calvino's work from which we took the title for our record, sharing experiences and exchanging travel tales, as we could do with a friend met on an evening in an inn by the sea. [from Obscura's web site]

Obscura's roots go back to the nineties and the band has associations with another Italian group called Moongarden. It turns out that MG's former guitarist Cremoni and Obscura's vocalist Cagnata are acquaintances since childhood, and several members of each group still live in close proximity. Before I even confirmed the connection I had listened to this album and found it reminded me of Moongarden's classic "Round Midnight," not close enough to be a twin brother, but more like a cousin. Round Midnight has a more disciplined and firmly constructed feel while "Le Citta Invisibili" is looser and dreamier. Le Citta came first, recorded in the 90s but shelved for years and not released until after Round Midnight. But they seem to cover many of the same thematic lyrical concepts such as social isolation, alienation, and sadness for the state of our planet. They also share a successfully realized love for fine presentation. Both feature marvelous CD booklets with great artwork tied to the themes. Obscura gives you a stunning collection of color photographs that are dark, haunting, yet beautiful at the same time.

Musically Le Citta resides in Symphonic on our site but they show influence of Neo, lighter Prog-metal, and of course Italian throughout. I like the album very much for its many atmospheres despite some problems with sound and execution. Let's get the criticism out of the way first: First, the album has an odd sound sometimes resulting from a less than perfect production. At times clarity is lacking or the mix is not perfectly adjusted. Second, there are some moments where the composition choices and arrangements seem questionable or clumsy, or you may hear a piece of playing or singing not quite letter perfect-is the chorus of "ombre tra la folla" just a bit off key or is it my ears? In fact that chorus portion of "ombre" gets a little more painful each time as it seems very forced, shooting for a heavier edge without much success.the chunky power chords seem aimless, almost randomly selected.a bit like a high school band's first garage anthem. The guitar solo section is much better to be fair. But on to the good stuff and there is plenty here to enjoy! The album covers quite a bit of musical territory with sections that are quite rocking with distorted metalized chugging guitars to mid-range parts featuring neo-sounding keys, there is mellotron for the tron fanatics, and then all the way to pastoral sections of piano, acoustic, and flute. Sometimes the transitions can be harrowing but this keeps the pace a bit unpredictable and exciting-this is truly an album that will throw some surprises at you. There are several delicate instrumental tracks which serve to enhance the imagery provided by the superbly chosen photography: bersabea, ipazia, and zemrude. The band seems to excel on the more delicate material and these poignant moments are what make the album. Midway through "Mondo 3" (World 3) you will hear flute floating over clouds of mellotron until the electric guitar comes in with a darker contrast reflecting the heavy lyrics of the piece speaking of war, poverty, and less than admirable leaders. Part 1 of "Cosmic Limbus" makes great use of dramatic piano sections and smooth, very pleasant vocals. Combined with part 2 later in the album the 15 minute piece shows the potential of Obscura quite clearly and is the compositional highlight. Nice nuance and evolving throughout with guitar and flute unison runs, harmonized vocals, and bold synth play. The two photos selected for each part speak volumes about the serious overtones, I can't speak for the band but to me they address well the impact of the human footprint on the planet. Really nice piece. "City of the Sun" is less successful than "Cosmic Limbus" as their attempts to blend the dreamy sound with the light metal edge again sounds forced to me. The closer "Guernica" recovers very nicely with every performance simply delicious: great drumming attuned to the track's needs, a passionate guitar solo, perfect bass and keys coloring, and a warm vocal injecting hope as the album fades with the guitar solo still wailing in the background. Mmmm, nice.

To be frank this album is not as good as Round Midnight overall in my opinion but it is worth checking out for Moongarden fans. I believe that Obscura is capable of making their next album great and I'm already dying to hear it. I hope they build on the numerous bits of heaven found within the promising "Le Citta," especially the "Cosmic Limbus" which has become a recent favorite on my system. 2 1/2 stars, a mixed bag for sure.

Finnforest | 2/5 |


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