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Corde Oblique - The Stones of Naples CD (album) cover

THE STONES OF NAPLES

Corde Oblique

 

Prog Folk

4.00 | 4 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Plenty of progressive folk has emerged from Italy over the years, whether under the rubric of RPI or not.. Recently a new wave seems to be breaking, with groups drawing more on their own roots in the Renaissance period and tempering it with allusions to the much more recent psych period. For me the tip of the iceberg was OLOFERNE, whom I have examined earlier. CORDE OBLIQUE, at least here on their third release, remain in a consistently romantic folky mood. If you have heard MIA, this is like a downbeat more melodic version. A better reference might be the obscure MAGMA from Argentina, but in a medieval mood. But I'm sure a few Italian groups unbeknownst to me might have been required listening. Well, gotta start somewhere.

And wow what a start. Riccardo Prencipe has assembled a compatible group of skilled musicians and ethereal female vocalists for this "project", and, considering he is the only glue holding it all together, he really knows how to make it stick. This is luscious ancient sounding music with plenty of plucked acoustic instruments and violin. No electric guitar and it is not missed. The vocals are mostly in Italian (presumably), but the occasional English ones and wordless workouts are no less impressive. Several tracks are longer, and these are among the highlights, which to me marks a litmus test of sorts as to the prog credentials of a band, especially since they betray nary a hint of ambitions in that realm.

"Flower Bud" and "Barrio Gotico" top the list for their effortless development, shifts of mood, sultry vocal sections and instrumental virtuosity, but "Nostalgia avanguardia", if not living up to expectations that RIO fans might set, and "La citta" are also triumphs of nostalgic provocation even among those who weren't alive 500 years ago, or at least don't remember it. This is stirring stuff. A few more sedate mainstream tracks (like "Flying"), and a general lack of hard hitting material are among the factors staving off perfection this time around.

All points of comparison would be mere oblique references and unfitting substitutes for the real thing, so I recommend you find this posthaste, godspeed, and affrettatevi!!

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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