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Il Giardino Onirico - Perigeo CD (album) cover


Il Giardino Onirico


Crossover Prog

3.59 | 38 ratings

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4 stars This is another unheralded surprise from beautiful Rome, a perennial hotbed of progressive music still dishing out some noteworthy music. Il Giardino Onirico is a set of talented musicians who are obviously schooled in traditional RPI but infusing harsher elements that give the arrangements power, depth and magnificence. The lovely artwork signals 5 long tracks that open with some narration, courtesy of poet and painter Marco Marini , all anchored in solid rhythmic foundations , with bassist Ettore Mazzarini really carving the groove nicely along, giving the necessary propulsion for the soloists to shine. There are colliding contrasts of serene and stormy phrasings, as if dreams turn suddenly into nightmares, inducing an almost tangible sense of psychedelic dysfunction or even paranoia. What makes the grade so refreshing is the constant attention to little details, a musical Monet of thrilling mosaics, best witnessed by the opener "BSD", where a soprano female voice scours deep into the soul, clashing with some sensational pastoral serenity and then overcome by torrents of raging passion. Dual keyboardists are an RPI hallmark and here both Emmanuele Telli and Dario Hakim provide a massive array of ivory-tinged orchestrations that give cinematographic scope to all the themes.

The mood settles into the dreamy groove of the cosmic "Utopia Planitia", a deliberate extended bass-fueled jam that rolls along inexorably, caressed by profound organ forays, ornate e-piano sprinklings and psychotic guitar shrieks, recalling a laughing madcap, once long ago. The Floydisms are delightful in their intricacies, with obvious reverence and extraordinary delivery. Bassist Mazzarini shines once again with a lovely bass solo that blooms divine, a classic highlight track to be sure, recalling mid-period Porcupine Tree.

"Agosto" begins with a moody bass excursion amid swirling synthesizer clouds, a stinging guitar adornment that explodes into a full-bodied melody, windswept and summery like a fine August day. Halfway through, the atmosphere turns molten hot, depth-charge onslaught that hints at Riverside, a thriving, ruthless and profligate bulldozer of sound and fury, psychotic and threatening. Wow!

"Amigdala" scratches the brain insidiously, hesitance and flimsy at first glance, until a solid beat kicks in (drummer Massimo Moscatelli is awesome) amid waves of deranged synthesized sonic washes, clanging guitars and gritty soloing from Stefano Avigliana, recalling Roller-era Goblin (a rather lofty comparison). Brainy, disciplined and yet chaotic, the complexity is simply exhilarating, these ragazzi can surely play, Wooh!

The surreal title track concludes this masterful debut, an 11 minute+ ride into faraway sonic horizons, the crystalline guitar scouring the advancing stars with bristling ecstasy, the howling soprano returning briefly to shatter the silence and introduce the harsher double bass drum attack. The celestial axe solo takes this into the higher echelons of class, a masterful slice of technical emotion. The delicate orchestral veneer is perhaps clichéd with crashing wave effects but its highly appropriate here, giving this fine recording a firm sense of timelessness.

Darn, I love Rome so much, such a stunning city! A terrific and surely difficult album to find, I suggest to contact Emmanuele directly (I sent him a note in Italian and he responded in English, crafty devil!), this is a keeper!

4.5 hallucinatory gardens

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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