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Höstsonaten - Mirrorgames CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.55 | 73 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Attention Willowglass fans!

Willowglass is certainly getting lots of buzz around the Archives of late for their lush and beautiful symphonic sound. Here's an album sure to please those fans. Hostsonaten is one of the many projects of Fabio Zuffanti, one of Italy's current progressive crop and one of their most prolific. "Mirrorgames" is a classically influenced progressive rock that touches on symphonic and I would argue neo-prog as well. It is certain to be a huge hit with any fan of pastoral, lush, mellotron-laden fantasies that sound just like the gorgeous cover painting implies. It also breaks from the mellow vibe with occasional bursts of electric leads and louder drumming like Willowglass does.

The pros and cons of "Mirrorgames" are well documented and both have validity. Let's look at the criticisms first. As Hugues says and I agree, Zuffanti would be well served to slow down and take more time between releases of his various projects as they often seem to lack focus. They are full of great ideas and beautiful melodies but drift endlessly it seems. This is a conundrum in itself because "drift" and lack of focus can be very pleasurable at times, but unlike the nearly perfect "In Limine" (Finisterre), Mirrorgames clearly could use some editing. Other problems include less than perfect sound quality and to be frank, some pretty weak male vocals (the female backup vocalists are quite a bit better.) There are also some cheesy sounding keyboard choices in certain places and some erratic transitions that remind me of Mindflower, perhaps the closest Italian reference in style. Gorgeous sections will sometimes be crashed by rather ridiculous sounding electric guitar power chords or cheese-synth that sound poorly out of place. On the upside here is the sheer beauty of many sections of the various tracks, where you will hear the cascading keyboards adorned with classical guitars, piano, saxophone, recorders, tin whistle, flute, and choired vocals. The recorder and tin whistle really add that complete "fantasy world" vibe to the proceedings and there are moments when this album transcends many other pastoral album attempts. But consistency is a problem here. Most impressive is the 25 minute epic "the dream" which on its own is more ambitious than some bands manage in their whole 75 minute CD. The soft, female-sung interlude in the 6-8 minute range is simply exquisite backed by lovely acoustic guitar and whistle, sounding almost Oldfield-like. Last I would note the packaging which is a multi-fold digipak with gorgeous artwork and a lyric sheet, all very effective in conveying the moods and music. Overall a good album but with some flaws, recommended to fans of "pretty prog" who don't mind a painting that never seems to be finished.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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