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Oloferne - Oloferne CD (album) cover

OLOFERNE

Oloferne

 

Prog Folk

4.00 | 1 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars I'm always intrigued when groups from outside the traditional Celtic diaspora play in that style. In the best cases, they inject their own local flavour into the mix, and beget a singular achievement, and this is the case with the debut of Italy's OLOFERNE.

The album opener stays close to tradition with the instrumental "Toss the Feathers", but from there an ancient, dark, almost ritualistic vibe infuses the work. The entirely acoustic mix of generally strummed and occasionally plucked acoustic guitar, soft mystery-laden vocals, alternately cheery and plaintive fiddles courtesy of Giuseppe Cardamone, occasional flutes, and very occasional percussion belies the masterful mood setting. This is a uniformly consistent work that is hard to compare to anything else, but openly challenges the best in our little genre.

In a complete effort such as this, it's not so much about the individual songs and tunes but about the overall effect of juxtaposition and flow, but I would be remiss not to point out a few of the blatant highlights. "Elfish Tee" establishes the medieval tone and the emphasis on violin, and is one of only several tracks sung in English. "Marcia della vita passata" begins as a soothing ballad before the tempo takes off on soaring strings. "Fa# come fard" places the spotlight on Alessandro Piccioni's flute as the fiddles are employed more for ambiance. "Nel Fiume Dentro Di Me" is an emotional tour de force with its unassuming buildup and simple yet profound chorus, and my personal favourite. "Medievale D451" beings the flutes back and lives up to its name. "Horus Eye" with its multipart harmonies and slightly ominous mood is as haunting as anything here, and that's saying alot. That so many of these dense and rich arrangements are in the 3 to 4 minute range only serves to add to their credentials.

A couple of small complaints: "Garrucha" reminds me a but too much of lame mid 70s Quebecois artists, even to the point where I think I hear the French word for "damn" ("maudit") in the chorus. The beautiful closer "Ludd di Wittelsbach" is a little too similar to a Neil Young tune, but inexplicably includes a lengtthy almost silent middle section before odd sound effects are mixed in. Perhaps it is a musical reference to the increased technology that OLOFERNE will come to employ on the successor, making this album one of a kind.

Last I looked, this whole little gem could be legally downloaded for free on last.fm, which I probably don't need to tell you is a VERY good deal! 4.5 stars

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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