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Ornithos - La Trasfigurazione CD (album) cover

LA TRASFIGURAZIONE

Ornithos

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.75 | 50 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The early word on Ornithos: All hail the Ibis!

Ornithos is a "new" project from about one-half of Italian powerhouse prog band Il Bacio Della Medusa. The origins of the group go back to around 1999 but in 2007 work began in earnest on this wonderful debut. The band features IBDM drummer and multi-instrumentalist Diego Petrini, bassist Federico Caprai, and the ever charming and talented Eva Morelli, who handles all of the flute and saxophone work. All three members are credited with composition but Petrini would seem to write the most. The rest of the group consists of Antonello De Cesare (lead guitar), Simone Morelli (rhythm guitar), and lead vocalist Maria Giulia Carnevalini. At the very heart of Ornithos is a clearly stated goal of pure freedom of musical expression. The band's symbol is the Ibis and the name also reveres Thoth who was an Egyptian God of knowledge and writing.

So let's tackle the big question many RPI fans will have: How does Ornithos compare with Il Bacio Della Medusa? (By the way, IBDM have their own new album coming out in 2012, so watch for that!) When I wrote the Bio for this band's artist page, the few songs I'd heard led me to believe the difference between Ornithos and IBDM were subtle, but after hearing the whole album that statement was premature. Oh, they share sound characteristic of course, how could they not? Petrini, Morelli, and Caprai all play here with the same power and passion as they do in Medusa. Eva's flute is instantly recognizable and I can practically imagine Diego back there drumming with one hand on his keyboards, though of course in the studio I imagine he'd prefer doing one at a time!

But despite the similarities there are also some differences. Most noticeable initially is the absence of Simone Cecchini's big and bold vocal presence, but Ornithos use this as their chance to become what is primarily an instrumental jamming band. Yes there are vocals and Maria Giulia Carnevalini contributes some beautiful work here but primarily this is instrumental rock. While IBDM did have instrumental breaks and heavy jamming, Ornithos will sometimes go a different direction into jazzier realms while of course still maintaining the "heavy prog" vibe. On these tracks Eva will switch to the saxophone while De Cesare and Simone Morelli will work up into frenzied interplay with Caprai and Petrini. When De Cesare breaks for an electric solo there is no question he can tear it up ferocious, and in fact all of the guitar work is exciting, both electric and acoustic. Eva has also expanded her chops and is a significant lead presence. All of the musicians gel beautifully, frankly there are too many kickass moments to start noting them.

Apart from these different jazzy sections there is still some very cool hard rock edge (think some of the 70s raucous Italian hard prog bands), some lively acoustic folk prog sections with great celebratory flair, and of course a few lovely soft moments with Eva's flute over mellotron, recalling some of the most basic and traditional progressive rock vibes. I love the opening when Petrini plays piano over mellotron, and he also kills with that nasty old-school organ sound throughout, that dark alley sound, a bit of a Deep Purple growl to it. Another tasty sound morsel which I loved was the occasional drop of a whimsical bit, little runs of Renaissance vibe, mysterious sound effects, or something from childhood, coming and going fast and giving the album a dreamy presence. They are only momentary though, as soon the band takes off again with an overall sound that is rich with myth and thunder, aggression and tales of the ages. The last cool aspect, and the reason I don't get into individual tracks here is that this album is the kind that feels like a continuous long piece, flowing track to track without pauses, a complete "free" epic composition. This makes it all the more pleasurable to pull the shades, turn down the lights, and have a complete music experience. This is music for lovers of the craft, not product for quick consumption. An adventure with emotional highs and lows. And that is where Ornithos ties back to Medusa...both take you on adventures. This is an early review and I've only had the album for a few days, but already this is a very easy 4 stars for me. It's great.

This AMS original issue is a beautiful gatefold mini-lp sleeve package with full dual-paneled Caprai art both inside and out. The lyrics booklet and CD itself also include matching artwork. Ornithos have delivered a memorable debut which should thrill any progressive rock fans, but especially fans of the wondrous 70s Italian scene. The winds of that scene live on in the Ibis. Bravo Ornithos bravo!

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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