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Alma Sideris - Castelli In Aria CD (album) cover

CASTELLI IN ARIA

Alma Sideris

 

Neo-Prog

3.00 | 9 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Castles, cafes, and new beginnings for Pasini

Gus Pasini is a busy guy, a veteran of many musical projects that Italian prog fans may be familiar with, such as Notabene and Corte Aulica. That's one life. In another life, he runs the Canterbury Café in Brescia with his wife Paola. Gus' latest project is called Alma Sideris and in 2010 came their proper full length debut, "Castelli in Aria," which is dedicated to Gus' mother Janny who passed away in the spring of 2010. Alma Sideris is perhaps Pasini's most adventurous work yet, perhaps the one with the most creative possibilities. While Notabene is very beautiful and Corte has that smooth Camel-ly fusion thing going, Alma is a wild card. As Torodd correctly notes in his review, that presents some problems in terms of cohesion and direction, but at the same time makes for exciting listening which is the tradition of RPI. The Alma debut comes across as perhaps a less sweaty, lower key Altare Thotemico but with the same manic personality syndrome. Numerous influences and styles mesh together here to create a work that is quite often fascinating and thrilling, with a few swings/misses here and there. All of the ingredients and possibilities are here but there is still upward potential in terms of crafting the perfect album.

In his interview with PA, Pasini told us that he intentionally involved many musicians from divergent backgrounds and attempted to make every song a little different. This is pretty evident as you can veer from heavy power chords ala Obscura one moment, in the next find some neo-prog sounding keyboards, then some classic symphonic, and finally some avant-garde touches. I was drawn to some of the classic RPI dressing employed here and there: the formal female vocals, the beguiling flute, and of course my true love the piano. There are many beautiful pieces of piano throughout the tracks.

From the moment the piano and dreamy interlude pops in the first track, I know I'm going to enjoy the ride. "Anime Tremano" attempts to get some fusion juices flowing with modest success, some nice electric guitar and sax solos. "Il Ricordi Di Un Cielo D'Estate" features a nicely harmonized dual vocal and memorable melody that sounds like an homage to the great Italian songs tradition. "Dubbi Eterni" veers again to a slightly romantic, melancholic, sensual pop blend of female vocals, sax, and soft synths. Really nice stuff. "Ossessione Notturno" is where things get really nuts, with fantastic operatic female vocals over a sinister and brooding rhythm section with electronica bubbling around the edges. Gus delivers on the promise of making the tracks different from each other! "Il Tempo Per Pensare" keeps the tension up initially with a frantic pace before it softens a bit as the female vocal trades with electric guitar licks in a track not so far from mid period Roxy Music? Maybe, maybe not. The title track features some great somber and ancient sounding guitar chord sequences over a nice bass progression and occasional flute and synth. Eventually it picks up and rocks before returning to the slower, classic section which has a fantasy feel to it. "To Janny" is a short but emotional tribute of melodic piano, very lovely. The closer "Incontro" carries forth the piano and begins a deliberate, measured jam with the bass and Pasini's drums, quite dramatic at times.

On top of a solid collection of songs you have some lovely cover art with this release and the sense that the next project could be even cooler with some additional support and resources, more studio time, etc. This is a good debut, not flawless, but one that I truly enjoyed. It's an album with a lot of heart and a genuine love of music first and foremost. Congrats to the dozen or so musicians who contributed to this new project! (I believe the album is download-only at the moment, but hopefully it will get a proper CD issue at some point, it certainly deserves to be discovered.)

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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