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Malibran - Oltre L'Ignoto  CD (album) cover

OLTRE L'IGNOTO

Malibran

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.51 | 27 ratings

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seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator
RPI
4 stars Released in 2001, Oltre L'Ignoto was the last album Malibran recorded as a six-piece band. The group's official website doesn't contain an abundance of information, and their myspace site doesn't translate into English very well. From what I can gather, band members Giancarlo Cutuli (winds) and Benny Torrisi (keyboards) left during this same year. Whether this was during the recording of this album I don't know. Giuseppe Scaravalli plays virtually all instruments on three tracks here, but he was maybe just doing that McCartney thing rather than filling in for absent colleagues.

Reading through the song list gives the impression this is a concept album. Even with my extremely limited Italian language skills I can tell there's a nautical thread here, with songs about waterways and calm seas. The album artwork reinforces this idea as it depicts a Renaissance-style scene of sailing ships in a harbour. While I can't describe the narrative I do think the compositional unity clinches this as a concept album, with musical themes recurring throughout the disc. On the subject of language, I've no idea if any people are put off RPI because of the Italian language vocals. Personally I prefer bands to sing in the vernacular, and I can't get enough of this type of little-known gem from Italy and the Spanish/Portuguese-speaking worlds. Setting aside the vocals, this album is a real musical feast that has strong shades of prog giants Jethro Tull, Genesis, VDGG and King Crimson. Admittedly this does border on slavish imitation on one song, but more of that later.

The album gets off to a fairly inauspicious start that has the opening moments of Si Dira Di Me flirting with Neo-Prog. However the song quickly settles into more familiar RPI territory with legato flute, sensitive vocals and one of those plaintive electric guitar riffs I'm especially fond of. Playful flute and vibes usher in a section that includes mournful saxophone refrains, doubled on flute. The opening riff reappears with yet more flute, this time of the Ian Anderson-inspired staccato variety. Just when you think the song is finished following further melodious synthesizer and guitar solos, Malibran hit you with a coda straight out of the left field. So typical of those Italians! For a few seconds I'll swear that's David Jackson's rasping saxophone I'm listening to. The second song gets under way with another flute and vibes duet. What is it with Italian bands and vibes? They all seem to use them. Not that I'm complaining mind, as the effect is usually delightful. After this brief intro the main part of Watcher Of The... oops sorry, Oltre L'Ignoto continues with another wonderfully tender melody and sections that contain contrasts of dynamics and tempo.

L'Incontro is the first of the songs on which Giuseppe Scaravalli plays all instruments, albeit with the addition of a couple of string players on this one. It has more than a little of Cadence And Cascade about it. Not the melody as such, but more the general mood of the song. Cerchio Mobile consists of a funk groove on either side of a brief guitar jam that reminds me of German space rockers Eloy, complete with squelching guitar chords. La Via D'Acqua and Verso Sud are the other Giuseppe Scaravalli ''solo'' pieces on the album. The former is a short acoustic instrumental; the latter is more of the same with vocals. Both are fairly innocuous tracks with maybe just a suggestion of filler. Scaravalli's slide guitar on the instrumental Mare Calmo has a bit of Dave Gilmour about it. Actually it's probably more than a bit, and then there's the Any Colour You like synth part. In Viaggio closes the album in epic fashion with the heaviest riffs on the disc. The instrumental closing section that reprises the title track is truly glorious music. There's about 30 seconds of silence before we get a ''hidden'' Jethro Tull tribute and that's your lot.

Hopefully my review doesn't give the impression this album is entirely derivative and fleshed out with fillers. I don't think Malibran make any bones of their influences and there are possibly one or two tracks that are less than outstanding. However thanks to the three top-notch songs here I rate it as excellent and a worthwhile addition to any RPI collection.

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |

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