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Nichelodeon - Il gioco del silenzio CD (album) cover





3.88 | 48 ratings

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Man With Hat
4 stars Welcome to the show.

Nichelodeon is a very intriguing Italian band led by vocalist Claudio Milano. Aside from a strong vocal emphasis, there is a generous amount of instruments floating around the album including piano, saxophone, viola, clarinet, guitar, ocarina, theremin, and even didgeridoo. This gives Il Gioco Del Silenzio a wonderful foundation upon the band builds. While there isn't often alot of sound at once, the amount of sounds used is a big plus for the band, in this reviewers opinion. The focus here seems to be placed more on textures, atmospheres, timbres, and creating a sound environment, than say overt use of melodies or structural complexities. Of course these things are utilized, but are more included than emphasized. All of the preceding gives Il Gioco Del Silenzio a very unique aire about it, that doesn't really remind me of many things I've heard before, which should go without saying is a plus.

There are two things that standout the most about this album, and that is Claudio's vocals, and the theatrical nature of the music. First, the vocals. The vocals on this album range from pseudo-typical crooning, to more traditional singing, to maniacal laughing, to operatic stylings, to falsetto shrieks, to deeper, dark mouth broodings, to experimental sounds. The most impressive thing about it is that each type of vocal is done quite well, and that the switch in style is very fluid. The sound of his "normal" singing voice is warm and almost soothing. But more importantly for me, his voice is very expressive and fits together with the music better than a lock and its corresponding key. (This is usually one of my biggest complaints with a band, especially one that has a heavy vocal presence.) As I've said, the other obvious feature of the this album is the theatrical feel of the music. At times, it is as if you went down to your local cabaret theater to watch a show after it was taken over by escaped inmates from your local asylum (which is a plus just in case there was confusion!). Or, to put a better way, it is as if you remove all the things you don't like about cabaret (and similar kinds of music) and add all the joys of avant-garde art in its place. Any way you say it, it works, and the end result is a few extra shots of whimsy to the music.

Speaking of music, even with the overt experimental nature of the program, there are some really strong melodies and "easier" bits sprinkled about. Apnea, Il Giardino Degli Altri, and Fabia, especially, have absolutely wonderful melodies that you could hum for days. (Further proof that the avant-garde isn't devoid of catchy material.) Another plus is the fact that even though the vocals are usually in the forefront, the musical backing is never complacent, just walking along to make it music. Instead, it moves, keeps a character of it's own, which makes it much more interesting and capable to keep my attention. On the instrumental side of things, the piano playing is certainly the most ear catching for me, with it usually punctuating the proceedings quite well. There is also some fine experimental guitar layered in throughout. However, that leads me to the greatest flaw of the disc...the length. At a CD bursting one hour, eighteen minutes, and forty-three seconds, it certainly contends for longest single CD in my collection. A natural hazard of packing the album full is the possibility for things to meander a bit to long in places, which happens occasionally in the middle and tail end of the album. But, even though it wanders it can still keep your attention, most of the time, meaning that it's rarely boring, even when the music isn't as powerful as it is elsewhere on the album.

All in all, this acts like an opera from the depths, and it really works well. Creativity is the truly the strongest aspect here. There is a certain charm of this album that makes you want to listen to it. The first time I listened to it, I liked it, but wasn't enamored. The second time, more things clicked and I really really liked it. The third time, nuances began to show themselves and my appreciation grew even more. But there was always enough to fill me with the desire to listen to Il Gioco Del Silenzio again, and each subsequent listen only underscored it. This really is an eclectic mix of musical styles and sounds that requires you to pay attention and listen to. And listen to loudly, to soak in all the little things about the music. Of course, this isn't music for everyone. This really is avant-garde music, often times eschewing 'rock' altogether. If you're not a fan of RIO/Avant-Prog this probably won't convince you to be. If you prog diet consists almost exclusively of the safer genres, this isn't for you. But, if you like creative music that doesn't fit into a box, that is willing to take chances, and not conform this is a record you should hear. This is certainly in the realm of sound art for me (if you care to make such sematical distinctions of course). (PS - Special thanks to Claudio for sending me this disc [as well as the DVD]. Mille Grazie!) 4.25 stars, recommended.

Man With Hat | 4/5 |


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