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La Coscienza Di Zeno - Una Vita Migliore CD (album) cover

UNA VITA MIGLIORE

La Coscienza Di Zeno

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.61 | 52 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Opening the year by signing with AMS Records and releasing a stop-gap live album, superior symphonic group La Coscienza di Zeno deliver their first studio album for three years with 2018's `Una Vita Migliore' (`A Better Life'), and once again it shows one of the preeminent modern Italian prog-rock groups in cracking form. Boasting a sweetly alluring vocalist and duel keyboard players, the album is book-ended by two fabulous instrumentals, holds lush orchestration and a fine balance of instrumental and vocal passages, with a mix of classical, theatrical and baroque flavours worked into the vivid arrangements at all times.

Peppy instrumental opener `Lobe Iste Calabu' darts through everything from softer acoustic prettiness by way of classical guitar, weaving violin, prancing flute and delicate piano, into frantic electronic bursts of whirring keyboard colour, sprightly jazzy touches and even more raucous blasts of Hammond organ and regal Mellotron lifts. Thankfully it all holds beautifully together by frequently reprising the elegant themes already emerging, and the piece sets such a lavish high standard for the album right from the start.

`Il Posto delle Fragole' is proud and chest-beating one moment, refined and tasteful the next. Keyboardists Stefano Agnini and Luca Scherani deliver all manner of divine keyboard, Moog and piano colour, Andrea Orlando's drumming is strident and quietly powerful, Gabriele Guidi Colombi's bass murmurs with purpose, guitarist Gianluca Origone (stepping in to replace the departed Davide Serpico) instantly impresses with plenty of diverse soloing, and the smooth Alessio Calandriello effortlessly proves once again why he's one of the most charismatic and warm singers in the modern Italian prog scene. A graceful ballad- like finale reminds once more of how the band picks up the honeyed sweetness of classic RPI group Locanda delle Fate and their much-loved Seventies debut `Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Piu'.

The swooning madrigal touches of `Danza Ferma' holds medieval-flavoured baroque pomp, a rousing chorus and zippy little energetic up-tempo sprints before an embracing finale, and `Mordo la Lingua' reveals dramatic guitar motifs and an air of mysterious unease. A darker wafting jazz atmosphere of evocative sax, trumpet and oboe orchestration infiltrates several parts of `L'aspettativa del Bimbo Scuro', but there's no shortage of lively keyboard spirals, tasty Fender Rhodes electric piano tiptoes and thoughtful acoustic interludes as well.

The near-thirteen twelve minute title-track `Una Vita Migliore' has the band throwing in every trick they can come up with - rumbling Hammond violence, aggressive drum fury and pounding piano menace, late-night mellow jazz piano musings, and jagged guitar races, and Alessio really gets a workout across a range of different emotions and singing approaches for his final standout moment of the disc (but perhaps he could have dialled back on the wailing `metal' shrieks a little bit!)! Closer`Vico del Giglio' is then an instrumental farewell of violin, oboe, flute and other exotic instruments blurring into a kaleidoscope of keyboard glow once more with great dignity.

If you're an Italian prog fan, then La Coscienza di Zeno have once again delivered an album that holds everything you could ask for. They draw from such a rich history of vintage Italian progressive music but effortlessly graft it to a modern setting, and they deliver it all with an exceptional technical proficiency and vibrant imagination. Their previous album `La Notte Anche di Giorno' may still be their defining moment to date, but `Una Vita Migliore' is another classy, luxurious and unpredictable symphonic Italian work from an endlessly skilled band, full of colour and endless personality, and it proves to be one of the standout Italian prog-rock releases of 2018.

Four and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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