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Riccardo Zappa - Haermea (La Camera Incantata) CD (album) cover


Riccardo Zappa

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When I heard Haermea for the first time, I immidiately felt that it would have been a big change from the previous formula Celestion-Chatka. In fact, although his third album Trasparenze has a more varied range of influences than its noble predecessors (slightly more prominent synth, 12 strings acoustic guitar, few singing, blues temper in one tracks) it nevertheless doen't seem to be at the same level of quality/innovation.

Haermea shows that the transitional phase of the artist is - finally - completed and that he, after two years from the previous work, comes back with a still "zappaesque" album but differently concepted, written and arranged. Atmosphere is somehow deeper and introvert with hints of "modernity". Don't get me wrong. The usual strong classic roots are not gone, neither his sound is changed. It's refined though and finally demonstrating that the Celestion-Chatka formula was not a cage. Keyboards here have a different role and meaning. Pietro Pellegrini (ex Alphataurus) manages to give 'em more importance even to build some "symphonic" scenarios in parts of the songs as, for example, in the final parts of "Serenata in Mi Maggiore" (4,44 mns) and of the closer "Ursa Major" (5,52 mns). Keyboards are generally played more loudly than ever before. Album's structure is based upon eight track between 4 and 6 minutes each. There is no longer composition.

Musicians are reduced to a trio. Riccardo Zappa on guitars and bass, Pietro Pellegrini on keyboards and synth, Walter Calloni on drums and percussions. The record opens with "440 Hertz" (3,42 mns) "tragically". The word is perhaps the most correct, I presume, for who knows the artist only for his first and second efforts. A hard acoustic guitar based played in fast tempo that, gradually, becomes explosive! Zappa playes also some electric guitar... then it's up to the longer track of the album titled "La Camera Incantata" - id est The Enchanted Chamber - (6,48 mns). The song starts in a soft (and dark) mood progressively changing into a in a more aggressive acoustic guitar musicianship with the help of good keyboards and with a strong drums playing, as the previous tune. The general atmosphere is romantic and deeper than what we're used to listen to. In the final part the song returns mellow and introduces "4311 B" (4,48 mns) which is made of more relaxing arrangement. The soft theme close side A: "Serenata in Do Maggiore" is based only on warm acoustic guitar (played greatly obviously) and keyboards, gently fading out.

Side B opens with a classic Zappa's track: "Haermea" (5,11 mns) that appears to continue the same soft formula of the previous track but, suddenly and even without let you take a breath, erupts into a convincing work from the whole trio. "Torniamo a Salonicco?" (3,55) is another ahort and gentle classic inspired by greek and meditennarean imagery, as usual in Zappa's discography.

"Serenata in Mi Maggiore"'s intro, reminds me a little of some Celestion- Chatka interlude, but it's only the first impressions. The song seem to go on without infamy nor glory only enrich by fairy colours. From the 3rd minute on keyboards take the scene and enlarge the atmosphere in a wonderful melody. Same goes for "Ubi Major" that is more complex and captivating in structure.

What I could say more? This record is fantastic, in my opinion. The best after Celestion!

P.S. 40 minutes of pure pleasure! Let's hope BTF will go on with the work of remastering the old analogic tapes...Riccardo Zappa needs and deserves a wide recognition.

Report this review (#100161)
Posted Thursday, November 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Once more a brilliant record!

And so it is, Riccardo Zappa that great and well recognized acoustic guitarist from Italy, continued a very delightful career with the release of his 4th effort, after that masterpiece called "Celestion" in 1977, the beautiful "Chatka" in 1978 and the no less good "Trasparenze" in 1980, "Haermea (La Camara Incantata)" was released in 1982 in the beginning of the 80s, time that is mostly known for its punk, glam, disco and pop movement in general, and time that prog had its re-birht with the Neo scene, Riccardo Zappa didn`t change his style nor changed the sound and musical orientation.

If you are not familiar with his music, then i assure you are missing something amazing, he is really a monster of acoustic guitar, his superb playing and arrangements are beautiful and everyone could be aware of that by listening to any of his songs. In this album you will find 8 songs and a lenght of 40 minutes when besides Riccardo, we will note the work of Pietro Pellegrini who was member of Alphataurus, on keyboards and Walter Calloni on drums.

The first song is entitled "440 Hertz" and it is a very promising opener song, a bit "strong" to be a Zappa song, i mean the playing is faster and with a happiest mood. "La Camera Incantata" is the second song of the album and one of the longest songs, with excellent arrangements making an extraorninary composition when we can appreciate the super work of Riccardo on guitars, there are some moments that i imagine him playing his guitar with a deep knowledge of it, i mean, he knows every single detail of his guitar and that makes his playing better, this song is magnific with some mood changes which seem to be progressive, at the middle of the song the drums enter again with a very nice playing going together with guitars.

"4311 B" is a shorter song but no less good, it has a more delicated sound and mood, sometimes being a bit jazzy with a very soft bass playing which was also played by Riccardo, it is a very nice moment, so enjoyable. "Serenata in Do Maggiore" reminds me at first bit to those Rick Wakeman`s new age moments, but then it returns to the soft Zappa`s style, this is one of my less favorite songs here, but it is also good, that is why i love his albums.

"Haermea" is another very relaxing song at first and actually a bit boring, but suddenly it changes to a fast tempo song with excellent atmospheres, and then it becomes even faster with a stronger feeling, nice song. "Torniamo a Salonicco" continues with the soft and calm mood but this time with an excellent percussion work which makes the song very tasty and enjoyable as well, not his best of course.

"Serenata in Mi Maggiore" is another highlight of this album which shows again his superb guitar playing very well accompanied with the atmospheres created by keyboards, it has some effects trhough the song, something different of what he has shown in his previous works. "Ursa Major" is the last song of this great album and reminds me to some moments of Celestion, this track is in my opinion a great last song for a great album, the mood is happier again with guitar-drums-keys excellent played.

This album has been the less easy to review for me, my love for his 3 previous efforts grew up immediatelly, this time i had to listen to Haermea at least 10 times to even feel the need of reviewing it and of course giving support to this extraordinary musician, i dont really know what happened to me, i might have found it less interesting or pretty similar to the other ones, i dont really know, but luckily i found the way to love it as well.

My eternal thanks to Andrea Cortese for the introduction of this virtuoso, and for you people, please listen to his music, his early albums might shock you! Again, 4 stars for this!

Report this review (#125359)
Posted Sunday, June 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Zappa celebrated the release of ''Trasparenze'' with a short tour along with Gino Paoli’s supporting group.He continued his solo performances in theaters and social clubs, before moving on to his third album ''Haermea'' in 1982, his second on the DDD label, a collaboration that would last for over 15 years.Here Zappa is only supported by Pietro Pellegrini on keyboards and drummer Walter Calloni.The album carried the subtitle ''La camera incantata'', refering to Zappa's own recording studio.

The journey of Zappa into Acoustic Prog with lots of Ethnic touches continues with this work, which is a good example that a mainly acoustic album can be much desirable among listeners of more electric textures.The soundscapes come as a combination of Zappa's technical performances on classical guitar and the creation of atmospheric images with the support of keyboards, more or less close to the likes of MIKE OLDFIELD or ANTHONY PHILLIPS.Additionally ''Hermaea'' contains a lot of interesting melodious themes with sensitive guitar playing and Pellegrini's background keyboard orchestrations.The composer often flirts with some sort of Ethnic Fusion, developing from melancholic acoustic instrumentals into richer and more virtuosic ideas with accurate guitar playing and more passionate performances by drums and keyboards.Even so, the focus in this album is again on Zappa's academic playing, a really great lesson for all lovers of classical guitar and future creators of atmospheric instrumental themes in the vein of MIKE OLDFIELD.

Reputedly Zappa's later albums were deeped into more experimental and New Age stylings, always focusing on the inner power of acoustic music.The man had a long collaboration with famous Italian singer Eros Ramazzotti and even composed music for films as well as reworked some Classical compositions.

Laid-back, atmospheric, Ethnic-styled instrumental music, highlighted by Zappa's diverse executions on guitars.Recommended to all fans of deep soundscapes and dreamy explorations.

Report this review (#1151725)
Posted Friday, March 21, 2014 | Review Permalink

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