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NUOVA ERA

Nuova Era

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Nuova Era are one of the more highly regarded Italian prog bands of the nineties amongst the RPI loving community. Releasing their debut, L'Ultimo Viaggio in 1988, they went on to release a further three albums culminating with the wonderful Il Passo Del Soldato in 1995. Apart from contributing to the ambitious The Divine Comedy project, a sprawling collection released as three separate multi disc sets based on Dante Alighieri's epic poem, all has been quiet on the recording front since, until now that is. Before you get too excited however this eponymous release is not so much a new album from the band, but more a collection, though with something to offer the long term fan in terms of recordings they may not have.

Musically the band is towards the symphonic end of Italian prog with a prominent keyboard driven sound. In fact by the release of Il Passo Del Soldato guitar was absent from the line- up. Clearly influenced by the classic seventies era of Italian prog they nevertheless stamp enough of their own identity to mark them out as more than mere clones of a bygone era.

So what do we get here and is it worth parting with your hard earned cash for? Well there's undoubtedly some excellent music on here but whether it's worth getting is really dependant on how much of this material is already in your collection. The first three tracks are their contributions to the three Divine Comedy releases, Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. Lasciate Ogni Speranza...Voi Ch'entrate from Inferno is the only one I was already familiar with. In keeping with the concept it's a dark and brooding organ driven instrumental with some excellent playing from the band. In fact all three of the tracks are instrumentals, Canto VII having a similar dark vibe being from Purgatorio and the lighter feel of Canto II from Paradiso.

Next is a re-recorded version of Dopo L'Infinito, the epic title track of the album of the same name. It's been re-arranged somewhat and is now minus guitar. Clearly a guitarist has not been reintroduced into the line-up. The band are understandably better musicians these days so the sound is tighter, the recording quality superior but overall I wouldn't say it's an improvement over the original. On the original guitar took a back seat over the strong emphasis on keyboard work but I do miss the colour it added to that early version. Overall though an excellent piece from the band.

Lo E Il Tempo, the title track from their third album is present here in demo form. Having not heard the original I can't compare but it's a pretty complete piece in itself with no rough edges to speak of. Another long track, at fourteen and a half minutes shifting through many moods and some pleasing instrumental interplay.

The rest of this compilation revisits material from their debut album. L'Ultimo Viaggio, another instrumental is credited here as a swing version. It does have a certain swing feel but I wish I had the original here to compare it too. Ultimately though it's a little simplistic and the least satisfying piece overall. The last three tracks are all live, presumably recorded sometime around the release of their debut. The recording quality is less than perfect but it's clear to see that the band were already an impressive live act. Guitar takes a more prominent role though the sound is still based around Walter Pini's excellent keyboard work.

So there you have it, overall an excellent compilation which makes a good introduction to the band though for fans who own the original albums (I only have two of them one of which doesn't feature here at all) certainly not essential, particularly if you already own the three Divine Comedy collections.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#397861)
Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
ozzy_tom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Nuova Era is definitely my favorite band from so-called second wave of Italian symphonic rock scene. Compared with other formations included in this category, they started career pretty early and recorded first album in 1988 ("L'ultimo Viaggio") when retro-prog was definitely still very unfashionable. Until 1995 Nuova Era released another 3 studio albums and then they called it a day in 1997. Thankfully in XXI century band's leader Walter Pini (keyboardist) decided to resurrect Nuova Era moniker together with two new musicians: Guglielmo Mariotti & Davide Guidoni, who were previously playing' in prog-rock trio Taproban.

In 2010 Nuova Era prepared self-titled compilation which includes 3 tracks recorded by this new line-up (and originally placed on Colossus Projects' "The Divine Comedy" albums), 3 demos/remakes recorded by previous incarnations of the band and 3 live versions of Nuova Era's early material (concert from 1989). Maybe this description doesn't promise anything spectacular, but I can assure you that "Nuova Era" offers much more than it seems.

1. "Lasciate Ogni Speranza...Voi Ch'entrate" - albums kicks off from a high note! Opening composition (originally included on "Dante's Inferno: The Divine Comedy Part I" box-set) is the heaviest thing I've ever heard being played by this band. Walter Pini's blasting Hammond organ and Moog battles are truly magnificent, but I'd like to especially mention extremely catchy Grand piano passages which work very well above those thrilling mellotron eruptions. All in all of those keyboards instruments create unbelievable suspense & truly horrifying tension like from a horror movie (it was meant to describe hell after all!). Emerson inspired organ solo in the middle is also terrifying, but saxophone (played by guesting Alessandro Papotto) freak-outs near the end are too noisy and distractful for me (but it's only small complaint).

2. "Canto VII" - similar in tone with the previous track, "Canto VII" (originally included on "Dante's Purgatorio: The Divine Comedy Part II" box-set) is another highly enjoyable piece of music. Maybe even slightly darker and more sinister sounding. Extremely melodic, up-tempo piano and organ passages are the main entertaining factor here, but I also have to mention double electric guitar attack (Guglielmo Mariotti & guest Salvo Lazzara) which sounds truly crazy (some distorted, dis-harmonic effects but everything restrained, no heavy metal here :-). Anyway once again I have to praise Pini for his extraordinary, perfectly arranged organ solo here!

3. "Canto II" - last instrumental recorded by new line-up (originally placed on "Dante's Paradiso: The Divine Comedy Part II" box-set) is the mellowest and probably the weakest one compared with preceding bombastic killers. But do not misunderstand me, "Canto II" is still great. This time except his usual organ, Moog, piano and mellotron, Walter adds also clavinet (harpsichord?) to the mix.

4. "Dopo L'infinito (Remake Version)" - 1997 remake version of Nuova Era's suite (original placed on "Dopo L'infinito', 1989) is surprisingly superior to its original! It's a shame that this line-up wasn't able to release any albums back in 90s 'cos especially Riccardo Vello's voice is truly remarkable. While Alex Camaiti sang very good in all first 3 LPs of the band, I have to admit that Vello's vocal skills are even better. Anyway as I said this version of "Dopo L'infinito" sounds better than original (which I also love of course!) not only because of different singing style but mainly because of much more advanced equipment used in 90s by Walter Pini. While in 80s he still had to use digital keyboard emulating organ sounds (not so bad, but far from "real thing"), here he already owned real Hammond and it makes a difference! Organ runs sound really mean and gritty on remake version, and there are much more of them. Moog, mellotron and this incredibly catchy clavinet sound perfect too. While the whole structure of the epic isn't so much different, vintage gear & more capable vocals helped a lot to enhance it. However lack of electric guitarist in this line-up maybe a mistake for lovers of original version. Anyway "Dopo L'infinito" remains a wonderful symphonic prog-rock suite equally influenced by RPI scene as well as British classics as ELP or Yes.

5. "Io E Il Tempo (Demo Version)" - demo of "Io E Il Tempo" suite (its final version was released in 1992 on "Io E Il Tempo" album) isn't much different from album's final version and I don't see too much sense in including it on this compilation, but for newcomers it's surely another highlight here. Tons of analog keyboards, fuzzed guitars in the background and often screamy vocals, all of it and much more is here for you!

6. "L'ultimo Viaggio (Swing Version)" - short excerpt from "L'ultimo Viaggio" mini epic (originally on "L'ultimo Viaggio", 1988) re-recorded as some kind of swing/light-jazz instrumental. Sounds odd, but in fact it's really entertaining. Walter's piano is very joyful and up-tempo all the way through, but my favorite part is harmonium solo, not an usual instrument in prog-rock world.

7. "Cattivi Pensieri (Live Version)" - live recordings unfortunately don't sound too good here. Most of the time mix is just too noisy, synthesizers too loud and high-pitched, while the guitar is too heavy and almost overshadows Pini's keyboard work. But I suppose all of these flaws are caused by poor recording devices used on this particular concert. Anyway "Cattivi Pensieri" live sounds much more metallic than original placed on band's debut. Sound quality is muddled, by you can clearly hear Alex Camaiti's hard edged guitar riffing. It's not that bad, but prefer original by far.

8. "La Tua Morte Parla (Live Version)" - I didn't like original version included on Nuova Era's debut and I don't like it here even more. Such raw-sounding version of this over-experimental track is big tast of patience even for such long-time prog-rock lovers like me. 10-minutes of very noisy half-baked solos, sound effects, rough vocals and non-melodic synth passages. Was it unsuccessful attempt on Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso or King Crimson style of prog? I don't know, but I'm sure that it's just not the style of these guys, they should stick to mix of melodic RPI and ELPish keyboard-driven symphonic music as they usually do. BTW, why did they directly steal sound collage "E5150" recorded by Black Sabbath and incorporate as intro to "La Tua Morte Parla"? It really sound almost the same!

9. "Epilogo (Live Version)" - my favorite live recording. Not as noisy as previous two. "Epilogo" is a well-written prog song, led by passionate vocals and atmospheric organ waves. Guitar/synthesizer interludes in the second part of the song sounds very interesting for me too.

"Nuova Era" compilation can be considered as a very good album for people who wish to start exploring this band's music. I'm sure that it will give them quite clear presentation of Nuova Era's style and convince them to check their studio releases as well. In general it's recommended for Italian prog-rock fans and keyboard-drenched symphonic prog aficionados who also like such bands like ELP, Trace or Refugee. If you like this music you should also check another band from Italy called Taproban. There are many similarities between Nuova Era and Taproban.

Best tracks: "Lasciate Ogni Speranza...Voi Ch'entrate", "Canto VII" & "Dopo L'infinito (Remake Version)"

4 stars from ozzy_tom

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Send comments to ozzy_tom (BETA) | Report this review (#434325)
Posted Saturday, April 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars If there's one RPI band that I wouldn't hesitate in putting right besides the seventies Italian greats it's NUOVA ERA. And considering it had been 15 years since their last studio album I don't have to tell you how excited I was to hear the band was back with a new album. Before I could jump up and down though the next lines in the story explained that this was to be a compilation album of re-worked older tracks, demos, live versions etc. Yeah the air went out of that balloon pretty quickly. So the next question was do I bother. Thanks to Nightfly's review I was convinced, although believe me I didn't need much of a push. I appreciate Paul's review too for explaining where the tracks are from because the liner notes are all in Italian. NUOVA ERA are a trio now of keyboards, bass and drums. And yes i'd call them a power trio.This new lineup is featured on the first three tracks only.

I don't have any of the "Divine Comedy" concept albums so to have these first three tracks which all come from those two albums is just an honour. I say that simply because of how amazing they are. Let's face it these guys continued in that mind blowing style of their "Il Passo Del Soldato" album.

"Lasciate Ogni Speranza..." has this powerful intro with the organ and drums standing out. It picks up around a minute. Some huge bass lines here. Some guest dissonant sax 5 minutes in. "Canto VII" has some excellent piano early on then this chunky bass arrives a minute in followed by organ. Back to piano before 4 minutes then it starts to build. Nice. "Canto II" opens with piano as strings, bass and drums join in. Organ too. Love this stuff. It changes before 3 minutes. Some nice drum work here.

"Dopo L'infinito" is a remake version of the side long suite from their second album by this later 1997 lineup. Keyboards and a slow beat to start then it gets spacey 2 minutes in before the keyboards take over followed by a full sound. Some nice organ work here.Vocals 4 1/2 minutes in and when they stop the tempo picks up 7 1/2 minutes in.Vocals are back before 10 minutes then they stop again as the bass and drums lead after 12 minutes.The organ joins in too.

"E Il Tempo" is a demo from their third record and it's that early lineup from back then who performs this. Organ as it starts to pick up. Guitar before 2 minutes. Reserved vocals after 3 minutes. More passion before 4 minutes. It picks back up 5 minutes in when the vocals stop. More great sounding vocals before 6 minutes. It settles 8 minutes in then picks back up before 10 1/2 minutes with vocals.The organ leads 12 1/2 minutes in as the vocals stop again. Guitar and chunky bass help out too. Nice. Amazing tune.

"L'ultimo Viaggio" is a swing version from their debut with that early lineup once again. Piano followed by violin then the organ replaces the violin. Accordion before 3 minutes.

The last three songs are live from 1987 apparently so very early in their careers and obviously that's why they are included. A treat for the fans.The sound quality isn't the best but it's an interesting listen.

The first six songs explain why I love this band so much. In fact if the album stopped after track six I would be giving this 5 stars. Powerful and emotional music the way I like it. Sure the last three songs are a rare glimpse into the bands beginnings but I honestly won't listen to them again.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#500186)
Posted Monday, August 08, 2011 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars Nuova Era actually disbanded after the departure of Claudio Guerini, which owned also the band's rehearsal studio.Enrico Giordani soon followed and parted ways due to health problems, while Pini tried to keep the team together with new members, finding a new studio and writing material for a new concept album.The only sessions documented by this line-up though was only a couple of old remakings and by the end of the 90's Nuova Era were history.Much later Pini revived the name of the band and recorded some songs for the Dante trilogy albums by Musea, helped by Davide Guidoni (Daal, Gallant Farm, The Far Side, Taproban) on drums and Guglielmo Mariotti (The Watch, Taproban) on bass/guitars.Alessandro Papotto on sax and Salvo Lazzara on guitar were also among the participants.In 2010, after 15 years of silence, a document of Nuova Era's recent and past years was released on BTF.

This is more of a presentation of this release than a review, as none of the tracks included is new, original material.The first three are all coming from the Dante's compilations and, for those who haven't heard the albums, but are still in love with Nuova Era's old sound, these are far from dissapointing.They work actually as a revisit to the classic style of the band with heavy use of keyboards, Classical influences, E.L.P.-like virtuosic orgasms and symphonic orchestrations, filled with organ, Mellotron and synthesizers.Maybe ''Lasciate ogni speranza...voi ch'entrate'' is a bit of a surprise with Papotto's fiery sax adding some sort of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR view in the soundscapes, but the bulk of these nice pieces are grounded in the classic keyboard-driven bands of the past like LE ORME, IL BALLETO DI BRONZO and LATTE E MIELE, containing dark passages, technical keyboard exhibitions, bombastic textures and more romantic moments.Definitely along the lines of old Nuova Era.The next three pieces are remakings, demo or alternate versions of three Nuova Era classics, ''Dopo l'infinito'', ''Io e il tempo'' and ''L'ultimo viaggio'', more details in the booklet, the music is typical of the band's style with a keyboard manifest surrounded by a solid rhythm section and a nice singer, swirling around neurotic solos, synth layers and the vintage echoes of analog keyboards.Three remaing pieces are all well-known tracks but coming in live cuts from 1987, just before the band released its debut album, and shows a young group with endless energy and great execution of Italian keyboard-drenched Symphonic Rock, the sound quality is questionable, typical of an amateur recording, but the material is rewarding, well-executed and energetic.

With Walter Pini having rejoined forces with Alex Caimati it appears that Nuova Era were coming back in the prog scene around 2011, but with no further news I am afraid this attempt also faded.By 2014 Pini was working with new members, but a new album is yet to be desired.

Nice compilation for starvers of Nuova Era, lovers of the Italian sound and fans of keyboard Prog with a vintage perfume.Not comparable to what we all hoped for, and that was a brand new album, but all aforementioned fans could approach this without second thoughts.Recommended.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#1314016)
Posted Saturday, November 22, 2014 | Review Permalink

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