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Höstsonaten - Höstsonaten CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.76 | 77 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Initially beginning as a side project of the band Finisterre, Hostsonaten has since evolved into one of the most famous modern Italian progressive rock acts - and with good reason, I might add. The band's lush, pastoral, and downright beautiful approach to Italian symphonic prog is mesmerizing, and the basis for their success was established on this 1997 eponymous debut. Hostsonaten's sound is already well-developed on this impressive first outing, and an irresistible charm and sense of adventurousness keeps me entertained throughout its lengthy duration. Although numerous flaws keep this album from reaching perfection, the lovely melodies and thoughtful arrangements make Hostsonaten an absolute gem for any fan of Italian prog on the softer side.

Right from the beginning, it's clear that leader Fabio Zuffanti had big ambitions for this album. After a short intro, the band dives head-first into a sprawling 41-minute prog epic, simply titled "Hostsonaten". Complete with flutes, saxophones, acoustic soundscapes, mellotrons, and bombastic synthesizers, this song has everything that most progressive rock fans dream of. The real strength of this epic is in the spectacular arrangements - the vast instrumental palette and strong sense of dynamics make this an absolute joy to listen to. Though the transitions are occasionally on the weak side and Fabio Zuffanti's vocals are a few strokes below par, that doesn't stop this from being an excellent example of a forty-plus minute song done right. The next two tracks are shorter by comparison, but are still lengthy enough to be considered epics by most listeners. The absolutely beautiful "Remember You" is my favorite song on this album, with its mesmerizing woodwinds grabbing me every time, and "The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, Part 1" is a very solid way to close the album as well.

Hostsonaten is a very impressive album from most angles, but there are a few flaws here that do detract from my overall experience. For one, the production is pretty poor across the board, with the distant-sounding and muffled drums being the biggest issue. The vocals aren't produced well either, and on top of that, Zuffanti's vocal delivery doesn't impress me too much. Though his calming style does suit the tone of the compositions quite well, he just sounds unenthusiastic and a bit boring to me. A better vocalist could've done this album wonders, but as the bulk of this album is instrumental anyway, it's not a huge problem.

Those complaints aside, this is an impressive debut from Hostsonaten. Fans of Italian prog bands like Premiata Forneria Marconi or Le Orme owe it to themselves to hear this 90's gem, provided that they can deal with a few of the album's shortcomings. I am one of those people who can overlook a few flaws in favor of excellent music, and that's certainly what we have here - whenever I'm in the mood for pastoral, well-written, and heartwarming Italian prog, Hostsonaten is one of the first albums I'll reach for. Not quite essential, but definitely recommended.

J-Man | 4/5 |


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