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Lethean - Lethean CD (album) cover

LETHEAN

Lethean

 

Eclectic Prog

3.08 | 7 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Superb instrumental feast, the Italian Eclat?

Hailing from Carrara Italy, Lethean are a four piece band who released their self-titled debut on Mellow Records in 2000. They are described by their label as "Anekdoten with a violin and without their too dark influences? A music with rare intensity which leaves any listener breathless. Completely instrumental, the band develops a melancholy and at the same time tortured music."

I would describe Lethean as a spacey-vibed rock/fusion band with a dual-guitar assault over a tight rhythm section, employing flute, sax and violin for additional effect. There is no singing or keyboards. A reviewer for another site that I generally respect lamented the lack of keyboards and claimed there was little direction on this album. Nonsense. Lethean forges ahead with a blissfully beautiful exploration of what two guitars can accomplish, winding and melding through space both violent and peaceful. For me the beefier fusion numbers recall the French killer-guitar outfit Eclat, the spacier sections recall Djam Karet, and there are other times where acoustic folk influences are blended with Meddle/Obscured by Clouds-era Floyd. This is not completely surprising as Lethean is closely related to the superb Italian folk ensemble Bededeum, sharing several members.

The jazzy sax accompaniment of opener "Subinconscio telefonico" is the most openly fusion that I hear them profess after which they shift to more of a spacey art rock outlook. The production is a bit "tin canny" in this first track but it improves as the other tracks proceed. This opener is OK but not the strongest track of the six....it only gets better from here on out. "Alchimista" begins with lovely violin over clean melancholic guitar and big bass that picks up until absolutely blistering leads are hurtling through your brain like rockets. Very exciting. This is the kind of track that will perk the ears of Ozric fans for sure. "Marmo di Luna" starts off so cool. Over dreamy acoustic and flute you have these strange, eerie chants like those present of the Floyd track "Fearless." It then progresses into a mystical acoustic guitar improvisation with dual acoustics and breezy flutes for a woodland folk vibe. After two more great rock tracks the closer "Autunno" is another gorgeous introspection of acoustic and violin.

What I like most about the Lethean debut is not any kind of linear storytelling or technical aspect per se, it really is all about the emotional "feel" of the tracks and the sense of adventure inherent to their kind of instrumental jamming. Instrumental rock is not always a sure thing for me but here is one I can appreciate. The Progressor sums it up nicely with "Most of the arrangements on the album are in the state of constant development, and nevertheless, they always remain coherent and beautiful. "Lethean" is one of the most original guitar-based Art-Rock albums I've ever heard. It is filled with a truly inspired, quite an extraordinary music and doesn't contain any weak spots."

Highly recommended to fans of instrumental guitar-based space rock that covers a wide range of emotional terrain.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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