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Nichelodeon - Cinemanemico CD (album) cover

CINEMANEMICO

Nichelodeon

RIO/Avant-Prog


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avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Nichelodeon are an Italian quartet made up of vocalist Claudio Milano, Francesco Zago (Yugen) on electric guitar, Maurizio Fasoli (Yugen) on piano and Riccardo Di Paola on synths. The songs on this album are several years old and were played by various lineups and ensembles in shows and were brought under one umbrella in this album to create a theatrical or rather a cinematic musical piece that will bewitch its listener with its weird and sometimes creepy sounds and tunes.

Odd and eerie, cinematic yet minimalistic in scope, Nichelodeon presents quite a bizarre album. made up of four musicians, yet with no rhythm section; no drums and percussions are to be heard here, only synths, piano, guitar and vocals. Claudio Milano's voice is perfect for this setting, as it has a haunting quality that captures my ears and casts a spellbinding effect. It's very much in line with the type of music they play; it could fit a scary movie, reminiscent somewhat of the feelings I have when listening to Art Zoyd and other bands of this ilk (feelings the music invokes; I don't mean they sound like them). The album runs as a soundtrack, with the songs flowing into each other. As such it makes me listen to the album as one piece, experienced in full and not as separate songs. Those are mostly downbeat, low key and not exactly quiet but not particularly loud, yet with a very strong presence. The piano is ever present here with Claudio's vocals as well and effects surrounding the two, all giving the minimalism effect of the album. While it is not devoid of melody, and there is beauty in the various songs here, it is the atmosphere that seems to be the aim here; it is indeed what the most pleasant thing about this album is for me. The thoughts and feelings it evokes while listening. The somber and somewhat grim mood of the songs along with the odd sounding effects bring the experience to a higher plane that it would have without it.

At first listens this album didn't sound too particular or striking to me but with further focused and concentrated listens I was able to "make contact" with the feelings and the moods the musicians here conjure up and those are very well done; particularly given that they use few instruments and that the music, while seeming dull at first listen or exposure to a new listener, can hold up so much inside.

This is a fascinating listen. If you're willing to put in an effort to listen to an album, if you like an album that is more like a journey that evokes pleasure through its sounds and moods, if you like the way musicians use manipulation of sounds and are less concerned with an actual catchy tune, then this should be experienced. If you like the style and the experience that musicians and bands like Art Zoyd and Diamanda Galas create, then this is recommended.

3.5 stars

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Send comments to avestin (BETA) | Report this review (#184734)
Posted Saturday, October 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
Windhawk
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Some really weird but also quite intriguing material on this CD - apparently a live production containing songs performed by various ensembles for the last decade; this time recorded with one specific line up.

But, calling these compositions songs may be overstating matters in some people's views I'd think. The piano and vocals do dominate proceeding; rather often in a melodramatic manner many associate with people from the south of Europe; but zany vocal effects, dissonant and arrhythmic piano themes do give these creations a certain unique atmosphere. Add in sometimes spacey and sometimes regular synths, some light and jarring and others dark and menacing; add artsy fragmented guitars to the mix as well; and insert brief moments, theme or entire song foundations by way of noises and you get some rather intriguing results.

The end result is a challenging mix of mellow piano and vocals, contrasted by grandiose, theatrical segments with the same elements - further contrasted by dark, ominous moods, electronic fragments and noise - and quite a few instances of dissonant as well as disharmonic explorations - verging on cacophony at times.

One to check out for those who'd like a slice of really challenging music.

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Send comments to Windhawk (BETA) | Report this review (#207707)
Posted Wednesday, March 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Claudio Milano is one talented man i'll tell you that. He sings and writes the songs for this project and he does both very well. I should mention I have a translation of the Italian lyrics to English(thanks Claudio). The vocals and piano are certainly the main focus here with an avant-garde flavour to make it even more interesting. These tracks are taken from two concerts they did in Milano back on October 25 and November 9 2007. So yes this is live music which makes it even more impressive. A couple of the guys from YUGEN are also in this project.

"Fame" is led by vocals and piano as other sounds come and go. "La Mosca Stregata" is a short instrumental that is dark as piano is played slowly throughout. "Lascia Ch'io Pianga" features melancholic vocals with piano. When the vocals stop it starts to get experimental after 2 1/2 minutes. "Malamore E La Luna" opens with piano followed by vocals which get theatrical at times. Some accordion as well. "Amante In Guerra" opens with reserved vocals and piano. His vocals are pretty powerful 3 minutes in.

"La Torre Piu Alta" is one of my favourites. Check out the bizarre vocal melodies. Some piano and synths follow. Vocals join in followed by guitar. Solo piano after 4 1/2 minutes. It kicks back in before 7 minutes. Spoken words a minute later. "Cio Che Rimane" features piano and mellow vocals that build. The tempo picks up before 2 minutes as it gets a little avant. It kicks back in before 3 minutes. "Flower Of Innocence" is another favourite. It has lots of atmosphere with piano and vocals. "Disegnando Cattedrali Di Celliule Pt II" builds with piano and vocals. Spoken words before 2 minutes. Intense after 4 1/2 minutes and it gets experimental a minute later. Spoken words follow then vocals and synths end it. "Il Ladro Di Giochi" is mostly passionate vocals and piano. There is a crazy (haha) hidden track as well.

An interesting album to say the least, and a good one too.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#212760)
Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. Thanks to Claudio for the CD and background information.

This is something of an unconventional release, featuring a collection of songs written over several years performed by a quartet of voice, piano, electric guitar and synthesiser, recorded live. This kind of stripped down instrumentation is not unprecedented - think of some of Peter Hammill's solo projects - but it's a bold move, as there is no way to cover up any shortcomings in either the material or the performance. Fortunately, Nichelodeon are more than able to deliver the goods.

Although nominally divided into 10 tracks, the album is best listened to as a single piece of work, which is the way it was delivered. Maurizio Fasoli's piano provides the backbone for most of the songs - he's also a member of Yugen, as is guitarist Francesco Zago. The guitar plays a varied role, with some achingly beautiful Fripp style sustained tones floating across the bar lines in the quieter passages and some fast and furious picking in the more uptempo passages. The synthesiser (played by Riccardo di Paola) likewise supplies a variety of textures, occasionally giving some extra rhythmic punch (on the opening song Fame), sometimes supplying a fluid melodic line that wouldn't be out of place on a 1970s prog classic and, in the album's two spoken word interludes, providing the kind of bizarre sonic backdrop that Pere Ubu's synth meisters have become famous for. Above all, though, there is the voice of Claudio Milano, who displays great range and power and who also has a remarkable rapport with the three instrumentalists. Milano also wrote most of the material and essentially put the whole thing together, and it is his interpretation of the material that makes it live and breathe. There isn't a weak track on the album, but there's a truly outstanding sequence early on. A brief, Yugen style atmospheric instrumental by Francisco Zago leads into a beautifully understated reading of Let Me Cry from Handel's Rinaldo, which gradually twists and mutates into a dark piece of atmospheric avant prog before dissolving into Malamore e la Luna, a powerful and moving song by Claudio Milano. Taken together, these three pieces encapsulate Nichelodeon's considerable strengths and are about as good as contemporary prog gets.

This is a good album, but it is the audio part of what was a multimedia performance; although it's strong enough to stand alone, the visual and performance components would perhaps give the songs a clearer context (especially for non Italian speakers). It's a highly distinctive piece of work, which fuses elements of classic Italian prog with elements of RIO and avant prog but which, crucially, has its own unique identity. Recommended.

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Send comments to Syzygy (BETA) | Report this review (#214709)
Posted Sunday, May 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With a talented multi-task artist such as Claudio Milano, two core members of that R.I.O. new wonder called Yugen and a synthetist educated in the field of avant-garde music, Nichelodeon has all the tools necessary to produce and perform top quality avant-prog music. And so they do for this album "Cinemanemico", which is a series of tracks delivered in the context of a 2007 performance. Even though this music meets its complete meaning as part of a bigger environment, the amounts of creativity and energy portrayed in this repertoire make it clear that the sole listener gains much with this anti-pop experience. The album kicks off with a magnificent 'Fame', whose instant energy is properly manifested by the precise angry piano chords and creepy ornaments on guitar and synth, while Milano displays his peculiar singing in a most engaging way. Some playful falsettos make him sound like a demented clown trapped in a non-sensical world - very Dadaistic indeed! The extravagant atmosphere is well defined, even when near the end the sonic scheme becomes a bit calmer. 'La mosca stregata' is a brief instrumental piece rooted in the minimalistic side of 20th Century avanti-garde, an eerie prelude to the masterfuly crafted beauty of 'Lascia ch'io pianga' - originally a Haendel piece, in the hands of Nichelodeon it becomes a clever exercise of focused tension in which the aura of subtlety dominates over the display of neurosis (and let's make it clear that the neurotic vibe is presently real, as well). The last moments of 'Lascia ch'io pianga' are drowned in a semi-nightmarish fog of inscrutable mystery that paves the way for 'Malamore e la Luna', a piece where the marriage of Milano's singing and Fasoli's piano lead the manifestation of romantic vulnerability and threatening unease. While the song goes on building up to its climax, the airs of magic and tragedy intertwine fluidly through this particularly elegant elaboration of sonic tension Nichelodeon-style. The combination of vulnerability and power in this track is simply formidable, making it a definitive highlight in the album. In many ways, the follow-up track entitled 'Amanti in guerra' picks up where 'Malamore e la Luna' had left, although it goes to denser places. 'La torre pi alta', which lasts a tad less than 10 minutes, is arguably the most explicitly ambitious item in the album's tracklist. Starting with Milano engaged in wild Tarzan cries (as if being possessed by the ghost of Demetrio Stratos), the instrumental ensemble gets involved in a robust framework of dissonant orchestrations and chiaroscuro textures; the synth stops being preferentially cosmic and shifts to a more pompous orientation, in this way becoming a lead instrument (at least, occasionally). The interlude that settles in before the 4 minute mark evokes a reflective mood that manages to instill a tenuous spirituality among the storming architecture. This song, being a expression of perfect amalgamation of the gothic, the Dadaist and the Expressionist, meets a perfect culmination in the dreamily chaotic coda. A piece like this would have been a highlight in any early Art Zoyd album, or an Opus Avantra one. Next comes 'Ci che rimane', which capitalizes on the preceding track's splendor for a 7 minute duration. The use of some lyrical passages makes this track less obviously tortured. Mysterious and low-paced, 'Flower of innocence' is filled with full washes of cerebral spirituality wrapped in a constrained environment (very minimalistic), before the arrival of 'Disegnando cattedrali di cellule Pt.II', which bears a more stately elaboration of sound and theatrical moods. During 9 minutes, 'Disegnando.' has plenty of room to continue exploring the band's most spacey side, which serves to efficiently complete our perception of Nichelodeon's postmodernist musical ideology. 'Il ladro di giochi' occupies the last 7'50" of "Cinemanemico", delivering a solid recapitulation of romantic, creepy and cosmic textures that by now are totally familiar to the attentive listener. Beware the false ending: after the 4 minute mark, comes a moment of silence followed by an industrially minimalistic coda, very much akin to chamber electronics. "Cinemanemico" is an excellent achievement of avant- garde music created on the margins of progressive rock's most cerebral trends - Nichelodeon dearly dignifies the idea of bringing the abstract notions of postmodernist art into the area of current experimental rock.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#216214)
Posted Saturday, May 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars It took me some time write a review abou this band and this album. It's not a difficult to understand the lines behind every note and every line of the album, but the complete concept is very complex...

Taking the mos delightful roots of avant garde, Nichelodeon walks thru' different moments and feeelings along their exquiste compositions. Yeah! It reminds several Italian bands but their sound is very delicate, specially on "Malamore e la Luna", one of the highlights.

Based on piano rhythmicals, the album slowly passes thru' the most classical avant garde into the beauty of an almost pastoral style. This is an album you have to hear with an open mind, 'cause if you are a fan of avant garde, you'll find a lot of influences. If you're a newbie, maybe this album will touch your heart with masked simplicity and lots of surprises... Recommended for masters and slaves, hehehehehe... A little contemporary jewel...

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Send comments to progadicto (BETA) | Report this review (#236219)
Posted Tuesday, September 01, 2009 | Review Permalink
TheGazzardian
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars An interesting way to make a mark

Starting off with a live album isn't really the norm, but Nichelodeon make it work! Ok, but this isn't a live album in the typical sense - no crowd noise, and the music is very well recorded (not quite as well as in their next release, Il Gioco Del Silenzio, but certainly up there).

This is an act that should appeal, I think, to any serious prog head. They feature enough symphonic and classical elements that there is a certain level of familiarity and comfort to their music, but at the same time the music is something completely brand new. It's like a blend of the more romantic/symphonic elements of Rock Progressivo Italiano with avant prog, and it really works well.

The star of the show is vocalist Claudio Milano, but the whole band (which includes two members from Yugen, another great Italian band) is on top of their game in this release. Claudio has one of the most technically proficient voices I have heard (and he does some stuff on a couple of other records that goes way beyond what he does here as well!), but he is not interested in showboating. He uses the full range of his voice and various techniques to work with the song. I don't speak Italian so I can only imagine how his voice and the words must pair together, but even without that he sounds amazing.

A lot of the instruments on this album comes in the form of piano and synths, with the piano being the foreground melody and the synths creating texture. A lot of the time, with Claudio's vocals, this is enough to create a full sounding song, but there is guitar on the album as well, coming in from time to time to give the music a more aggressive or dirty edge.

Although this is a wonderful recording, I would recommend starting with the bands next release. It features many of the same compositions, but the recording quality is better due to the studio setting and some of them have been fleshed out more. That being said, you will eventually want to own both, so you really can't go wrong either way.

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Send comments to TheGazzardian (BETA) | Report this review (#740546)
Posted Sunday, April 22, 2012 | Review Permalink

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