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Mindflower - The Art of Dreams in a Little Bottle (Fabio Antonelli Ensemble) CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.96 | 8 ratings

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4 stars Dreamy chamber-acoustic gem

Mindflower is the brain/soulchild of Fabio Antonelli along with Fabrizio Defacqz and Alberto Callegari. Various albums have featured a host of other musicians but these three have been the core group. "The Art of Dreams in a Little Bottle" was released under the moniker of Fabio Antonelli Ensemble, but as far as the RPI team is concerned, as well as the presentation on the artist's website will acknowledge, the album can easily be included on the artist page of Mindflower. The main difference with this title is that while Mindflower was a blend of Italian rock and classical influence that was fairly even, here the emphasis shifts to the chamber-acoustic sound. There are more choirs, strings, and classical arrangements, though there is still a bit of rock drums and bass creeping into some tracks. The interesting thing is that while I enjoy all of Mindflower's unique, hard-to-classify albums, this one under the alternate moniker may be my favourite, or at least tied for favourite with the beautiful "Mindfloater" album.

The band who has incorporated symphonic, neo, folk, rock, pop, and classical into various albums here presents a more focused artistic vision. "Art of Dreams" is a truly wonderful cross between chamber music and pastoral Ant Phillips-styled light progressive, with the typically beautiful Italian touch though certainly not typical RPI fare. While Mindflower/FAE without question have RPI influences, notably Orme according to the group, they don't present with obvious RPI band characteristics beyond the beauty of the arrangement and instrument choices. The themes are similar to the other Mindflower albums and concern the search for enlightenment represented by images of fairies, paths in nature, magic, and the search for "the point" of attainment. Vocals are usually female and English language (here by Micaela Gotelli, frequent Mindflower vocalist) along with occasional female choir vocals and male vocals. Antonelli's soothing acoustic guitars and Defacqz's keyboards work masterfully together. Bassist Callegari engineered the album and directed the chorus as well. But further icing on the cake is the gorgeous, flowing strings frequently used, the violin and cello. Gentle and spacious compositions typically are built around the Ant Phillips-like acoustic guitars and Gotelli's fragile, intimate vocals. Once in a while the drums and bass will turn the corner into a "rock" sound but not often. Mostly this album remains quiet but dynamic, openly intimate and soft yet still focused. Interludes of strings or solo acoustic guitar separate more typical sections with vocals. Dreamy, lightly treading piano permeates the gorgeous title track with gently strummed guitar and light drums, the piece having really nice upbeat melody.

Almost always optimistic and hopeful in its outlook, this is an album which requires a respite in your day. It will not suffice to play in your car in traffic, you need to slow down and open a bottle of wine to truly appreciate this "Little Bottle." The album closes with a formal-feeling pipe organ and a loud thud which brings you back to your day. My only criticism of "Art of Dreams" is the same one I have of all of their projects, the misguided insistence on using more awkward English vocals/phrasings instead of the world's most beautiful language. Italian vocals would really put Mindflower over the top and they have missed every opportunity so far to do this. Of course this is a highly subjective criticism on my part. Nevertheless, nothing dilutes my enthusiasm for what may be Fabio's finest moment, an album which never fails to leave me rejuvenated by its therapeutic spells. A true healing musical tonic. They would be back to a more rocking approach with the follow-up "Mindfloater" which is another very enjoyable and unique album. My advice for starting with this band would be "Mindfloater" if you want to hear their rocking side, or "Art of Dreams" if you wish to enjoy their softer, contemplative side. If you like those two albums continue later with "Little Enchanted Void" and "Purelake."

The lyrics booklet really pulls the project together and adds to the classy aesthetic here. The tasteful cover art is just the beginning; there are gorgeous photos and painting reprints throughout. I love the life affirming qualities of the artwork and music as they perfectly compliment each other. "Art of Dreams" should appeal to fans of Karda Estra and Gatto Marte on the chamber side, and Anthony Phillips on the acoustic side.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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