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If / Ifsounds - Morpho Nestira CD (album) cover

MORPHO NESTIRA

If / Ifsounds

Crossover Prog


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Angelo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A lot of good comes from Italy...

Not signed to a label, but with 2 commercial albums out and three more available under Creative Commons License, and in existence for 15 years. That's the career of If in (probably irrelevant) numbers. Let's have a look at their most recent creation - Morpho Nestira.

After playing it on and of for three weeks, I think this album contains some great moments, but is somewhat ruined by the intermezzos between the tracks - in the form of soundbites of people talking. Obviously, this has a meaning in the context of the album, but at the same time it feels like an overly repeated trick.

Musically, there's not much wrong with the album. Tracks like You Need (which could be called, perhaps slightly disrespectful, as a cleaned up Nirvana riff with an organ underneath...) and Background Noise could be classified as mature rock of the kind we had in the late 70's and early 80's, with bands like Journey and Toto - although with less of a signature sound to it. At the same time, tracks like Thirsty and Naked could've easily fit on Pink Floyd's The Wall - just listen and you'll recognise why. And then, sometimes the vocals remind me distinctly of Lou Reed (Learning To Communicate). 'Diverse' is probably the best way to describe this experience, which also shows clearly where the influences of the band, and main composer Dario Lastella come from.

An interesting notion with this album is that some tracks keep pulling you back for a relisten. Unknown Eyes has that effect because of the weird darkness it radiates, while Poison has a slightly irritating sound to one of the vocals that makes you want to skip to the next track, and yet it doesn't.

Finally, to cut the progressive edge - I think Morpho Nestira Part 1 and 2, together with Empty are the most progressive pieces on this album. The clear distinction between different parts, and the use of the keyboards make this in places almost classic symphonic with a modern (neo?) edge. Or in short: worth a listen, and another, and another...

Report this review (#196484)
Posted Tuesday, December 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
andrea
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars If is an Italian prog band from Molise and "Morpho Nestira" is their fourth album, their best so far. It's an excellent self production with a good sound quality and an amazing art cover. "Morpho Nestira" is a concept album about consumerism and the music perfectly fits the lyrics with an interesting mix of influences ranging from Pink Floyd to more conventional rock forms coming from the eighties, the "Age of Plastic".

"Relax boy, don't worry please, we'll tell you what you will need / The deal is fair, we do thing right / We'll just take all of your time / You need, we think so, to make more money and waste it all...". The opener "You Need" is sparking and straightforward, and, despite it's probably closer to a piece of Bachman and Turner Overdrive or Ironhorse than to something that you would classify as prog, I think that it's a beautiful start for this work where consumerism is described like a vampire sucking out your time and your freedom...

"Morpho Nesira Part 1" is a good instrumental where happy samba rhythms melts in a tainted electric guitar riff leading to the following "10 Years Old", a track that "runs like hell" trying to describe the need to grow up in hurry to keep up with life in an ill society and in a broken family... "I'm 10 year old / I walk alone / I feel so bad / I walk alone / But I'm not scared...". Growing up alone you risk to feel just like a background noise on this world and on the next track "Background Noise" there's an angry "plastic" sound... "I feel like I'm background noise, just background noise / We're an average band with this song to play / We stand among a million sounds that build up this space / Will we catch you attention?"...

"Thirsty" is beautiful ballad that seems to come out from "The Wall" and is about a broken dream that leaves you weak and thirsty of love and power... Rag piano notes introduce the next track "Learning To Communicate" where modern and retro sounds get along... "Now I feel lonely so I look for someone dot net / You are so pretty, no need to go out to go bed / Ooh don't you think it's funny? Ooh it's so funny! / We can have sex for weeks all safe behind the screen / / But we will never meet"... The "moony" and acoustic "Unknown Eyes" is another track about loneliness while next one "Poison" is introduced by a marching beat and is more straightforward and aggressive... "They filled my empty spaces and I bought everything they said / Slowly moving in my head their poison melted my brain / How can I get out?"

"I want back my dreams, my doubts, my fire / I want back my soul, my time, my life / Now I'm in front of you, I've got no masks / I'm naked"... "Naked" is another good track that reminds of Pink Floyd and that leads to the long instrumental "Morpho Nestira Part 2", "le plat de resistance" on this album where the band showcase an excellent musicianship and a definitively more progressive sound...

The long and spacey "Empty", where life is described as an empty hole to fill and to explore, and the light "Oceans Of Time" are a good conclusion for an album that is definitively worth to check out. "Now we must all grab our lives, spread our wings, taste our time / We'll have oceans of time"...

Report this review (#197491)
Posted Tuesday, January 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Not too shabby, this fourth album by Italian proggers If.

This is a concept album apparently, where samples of voices (mostly Italian speaking) is the element that binds this rather diverse colletion of tunes together - a sonic constant where a musical one isn't present perhaps.

Diversity is the name of the game on this production, where a jazz-tinged number is the odd one out in between classic hard rock numbers, more floating Pink Floyd inspired moments, harsher efforts with spacey spices at times reminding bit of Hawkwind as well as a few more mellow excursions closer to ballads in terms of stylistic expression.

The less good aspects of this disc are the vocals; for me coming across as a tad on the weak side; and the production. The latter seems to be almost as diversified as the album itself, some tracks have a nice, clear sound while others comes across as fuzzy and not really distinct.

Still, the shortcomings aren't overly major; and fans of concept albums in might want to check out this album as well as those who enjoy diverse productions of the slightly less complex variety.

Report this review (#225150)
Posted Wednesday, July 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The fourth studio album from if is a concept about materialism. We have to see the songs like a story, a sort of musical about modern times life.

A new member joined the band, it's the excellent drummer Luca Di Pardo who really improved the sound of the band. Claudio Lapenna intricate piano parts contrast nicely with the more direct guitaring from Dario Lastella. Franco Bussoli form a great rhythmic section with Di Pardo, while the vocals by Paolo De Santis sometimes seem too "controlled" and they are maybe the weakest part of the sound.

The best songs maybe are the two parts of "Morpho Nestira" (especially the wonderful epic Part 2) and the closing tune "Oceans of Time". I liked very much the pinkfloydish "Thirsty", with an incredible work from Bussoli and Di Pardo and a nice sax from the guest Yul FecÚ, the rocky "Poison" and the "high-time" rock ballad "Naked" with a "quasi-Led Zeppelin" guitar solo.

5 stars for this excellent album from if.

Report this review (#358441)
Posted Monday, December 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars The album closes the time of IF to make way for IFSOUNDS

The compositions are solid, the production is good, very well executed. It reminded me at times to MARILLION sometimes PINK FLOYD even in some parts to FLOWER KINGS or some of RADIOHEAD. Well, good range of music.

In terms of production, there has been excessive compression of the songs during the mastering. The songs more relaxed and dynamic sounds wonderful, but when it should be noted a slap sound ... does not arrive. This can be seen in songs like "10 Years" or "Background Voices" in its more powerful passages are not strong; it'a a low sound. Reminded me the productions of PURE REASON REVOLUTION in his first two cd's (I have not heard the last yet)

Certainly not his strong point is the vocal work, a bit lacking in strength and courage. But instead provides a good interpretation, good mixing and good compositions that penetrate a rock made of good quality.

Report this review (#381790)
Posted Monday, January 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Morpho Nestira is a concept album from the Italian band "if" (later "ifsounds"). Morpho Nestira is a Brazilian blue butterfly and the concept is about greed and materialism that converted human beings in monsters ("sometimes metamorphoses take other directions?" from the closing number "Oceans of Time") one of the highlights of the album.

Musically this work goes in several directions, but never loses its unity and sounds very coherent despite the huge numbers of genres that the band plays (from hard rock-quasi punk to acoustic, from jazz to prog?). I really enjoyed the instrumental title track divided in two parts: the first is an incredible samba rock led by the work of Luca Di Pardo on drums and Franco Bussoli on bass, while the second is keyboards-led with a wonderful piano solo by Claudio Lapenna.

A real good album I discovered only when I purchased their last work "Apeirophobia" (even if they changed name and line up?). 4,5 stars? rounded up to 5!

Report this review (#382442)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Even before making it onto the player this 2008 album makes quite a statement as the artwork is both stunning and enticing. The band is still in existence in 2014, but with a different line-up and name, as they changed from If to Ifsounds in 2009. But listening to this album does make me wonder what I have been missing out on all these years. Formed as long ago as 1993, this Italian act started out as a covers group and the broke up for four years before reforming to record their debut in 2004, and this is their fourth. By the time that this was released they had already won accolades for classical, easy listening and progressive rock so it is safe to say that here is a band that isn't content to easily sit firmly within one genre. They may have tried a bit too hard to be Floydian by using recordings of people talking between the songs, but that aside here is an extremely polished and enjoyable album.

There are times when they almost move into AOR/melodic rock, especially on the bouncy "Poison" where one can imagine guitarist Dario Lastella recording the piece with a huge smile on his face as he is allowed to whack out some distorted rock riffs, but there are plenty of others where the music is far more peaceful and reflective with some beautiful piano and keyboards. It really is a huge melting pot of music, never in the face of the listener, but somehow it is compelling and brings the listener in closer. Mind you, listen to "Naked" and you will think that you are playing a long list song from 'The Wall', but mostly they follow their own path and a mighty interesting trip that is. For more details on this and all of their other releases then visit www.ifsounds.com. If the rest of their output is as good as this then here is a band really worth discovering.

Report this review (#1112422)
Posted Saturday, January 11, 2014 | Review Permalink

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