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Una Volta Eravamo In Sette - La Ballata Del Vecchio Marinaio CD (album) cover


Una Volta Eravamo In Sette

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A fine debut, a free-download offering

Una Volta Eravamo In Sette are from Forli Italy and formed in 2008. In 2010 they released their debut work 'La ballata del vecchio marinaio' which was inspired by the Coleridge poem 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.' The album was published as a download-only from the website Jamendo and you can listen to it by linking from their artist page. The album is an enchanting mix of classic 70s prog spirit in an updated package. A concept album where you can feel the connection to the seafaring adventures, the story is told in large part instrumentally but there are occasional vocals and narration. The overall vibe is a mellow, often minimalist symphonic prog with a nod to the 70s RPI, and significant helpings of dreamy, low-key psych. Occasional tinges of hard rock, folk, and jazz come and go.

Tracks are often sparse and built upon ghostly piano melodies and atmospheric synth-scapes. Leading over the top much of the time are gorgeous flute melodies, this album is something of a flute lover's dream. While there is a brief early Tull flirtation with flute against hard rock, more often this is dreamy, luxurious, wispy flute playing. Lovely. Against this we have economical electric guitar patterns, often thoughtful but laid back chord progressions contributing to the 'distant' feel, a longing. Sometimes the sound opens up with wailing electric leads, often spacey in a Grobschnitt way with nice juicy sound. Other times dry acoustic and classical guitars lead the way. But overall the sound palette plays to the water theme and the vibe is one of melancholy, fogginess, possibly drifting and being lost. A bit of an ache for a return to familiar things. The vocals are decent but again are not the most out-front feature, they often are soft and relaxing, only occasionally getting dramatic in volume. Bass playing and drumming are quite tasty indeed, as are all of the musicians here. I believe Floyd is likely an influence as well, specifically the dreamy and bucolic vibes of Wright and Gilmour.

This is an album which should please prog fans of many stripes and is a very promising debut. The music is very good. I'd be lying if I said a download was as satisfying to me as a physical CD release with nice artwork and packaging, but if you just want to hear some good music, check this out. Again, the band generously offer this for free so there is no reason not to have a listen and let them know what you think!

Report this review (#415319)
Posted Sunday, March 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 'La Ballata del Vecchio Marinaio' is a concept album based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's chilling poem about an ancient mariner condemned to wander the earth and tell his strange tale whenever the impulse seizes him. The vivid imagery of the poem seems to lend itself to musical treatment and has inspired works by Iron Maiden and David Bedford among others. I would urge those who are unfamiliar with the poem to read it, as doing so will hopefully increase the listener's appreciation of the music. As with any concept album, the question for me is how well the idea works with the music. Well let me tell you, these guys pull the concept off big-time and you don't even need to understand Italian to get the gist of things.

The poem is concerned with the violation of nature, in the form of the albatross, and the resulting effects on the ship's crew. There are several important themes underneath the surface of the story but basically the mariner is psychologically shipwrecked after he kills the albatross and has to go through certain ordeals before he can return to society. He undergoes a process of sin and restoration, or a 'psychological crack up and recovery' in the words of Joseph Campbell. The band successfully represents this with changes in tempos and dynamics that reflect the transformation that occurs in the mariner over the course of events.

Supernatural elements play an important role in the poem and the spooky electronics during the opening part of 'Overture' immediately create an otherworldly atmosphere, although there is an apparent contradiction when these effects are replaced by the Eastern- sounding main theme. For a voyage that would probably have started in Bristol the music is strangely exotic, but this only adds to the mysterious atmosphere with the ship heading into the unknown. 'Dadi D'Ossa' (Dice With Bones) also centres on the spirit world as Death and Life-in-Death play their macabre game of chance for the souls of the crew. The album makes fairly sparse use of vocals - the mariner is alone for much of the time and the lack of human voices emphasises the sense of isolation - but this is the only fully instrumental track. It's a skittish piece constructed around several different riffs and syncopated beats as the skeleton and naked lady roll the bones, and there's a neat flute accelerando to finish as 'The souls did from their bodies fly'.

The albatross also represents the spirit world and 'L'Alabatro' is a carefree, dreamy track that reflects the temporary harmony between the spiritual/natural world and the crew of the ship. The albatross is the Hermes guide that leads the ship out of the rime but the mariner kills it on an impulse and the Polar Spirit punishes the whole crew for this misdemeanour. The ship is becalmed in uncharted waters and this is represented by the rather eerie, scant arrangement of 'Silenzio Del Mare' (Silence of the Sea) that centres on a hypnotic tempo of roomy drums and fuzzed-out guitars very much in the vein of Radiohead. The relaxed pace on this suggests the slow passage of time and the weariness of the mariner, and the overall predominance of haunting music is suggestive of the doomed voyage.

Natural retribution is another recurring theme and when the mariner stops the wedding guest he begins by telling him how the ship was hit by a storm as it crossed the equator and was driven southwards into the rime. 'Nella Tempesta' (Into the Storm) starts with some rain effects and a tumult of drums and guitar, before organ and flute roar in to add to the general sense of turmoil. This contrasts with the impressionistic piano of 'E Quanto E'Immenso L'Oceano' (And How Vast the Ocean of Ice) that really captures the essence of the rime. It reflects its cold, desolate and disorienting nature and the intermittent chords seem to represent the 'mast-high' ice floating by the marooned ship. The closing section of this track simultaneously reminds me of Jethro Tull and Latte e Miele; the flute melody is a bit like the former's 'Bouree' while the spoken word vocals remind me of the ritornelli on the latter's 'Passio Secundum Mattheum'.

'La Ballata del Vecchio Marinaio' is a striking example of a successful union between concept and music. It's available as a free download but please guys, bring this out on CD!

Report this review (#424451)
Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars A fine debut and a free download too.

Well, that free download is available perhaps not too long. This band with the very long name is bound to be picked up by a label and the freebies will be a distant memory. So get it for free while you can.

Una Volta Eravamo In Sette (phew !) is an Italian band doing old style RPI. References is the usual suspects standing on an identity parade. Banco, Le Orme....... Una Volta Eravamo In Sette is perhaps a bit heavier and creates more noise than some of the RPI bands like for example PFM and the more pop orientated bands. Una Volta Eravamo In Sette is a rock band through and through with some Led Zeppelin vibes. Their sound dishes up with guitars, vintage tangents, a lot of flutes, drums, bass and some really good vocals.

The songs are really varied in their expressions and this album is a pretty big mouthful. It is obvious that Una Volta Eravamo In Sette is a very talented band which I have already put high up on my "must follow" list. The songs on this album is unusual complex and filled with small intricate details. So much so that ten listening sessions does not feel enough.

The quality of the album is very good. My only gripe is the lack of any really great tracks. Tracks that would give the band some identity. But this album is good enough to a must-download album and one I am sure will be picked up by a record label and re-released. For me, it is a very strong three stars album, bordering to four stars. It may also feature high on the best RPI albums of this year list. Download it !

3.67 stars

Report this review (#438580)
Posted Sunday, April 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Una Volta Eravamo In Sette are an Italian progressive rock band from Forlė that was formed in 2008. The line up features Francesco Agnoletti (keyboards, electric guitar, vocals), Riccardo Fiorini (vocals, flute), Mattia Massa (electric and acoustic guitar, vocals), Mattia Flamigni (drums) and Fabrizio Piani (bass). From the very beginning they started to work on original pieces inspired by The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Their debut work, La ballata del vecchio marinai, was released in 2010 as a free legal download on the site and is an interesting and original mix of vintage and modern sounds featuring influences ranging from the Italian prog masters of the seventies to psychedelia, from classical music to tribal rhythms and many more. The musicians interpreted the poem with the music and their own words just giving you some hints of the events narrated by Coleridge... The rest is up to your imagination!

The opener "Overture" sets the atmosphere. The mood is dark and calm, then the rhythm slowly rises while Oriental influences add a touch of exoticism to a musical tableau where you can see a flock seagulls merrily dancing. The birds are flying over a ship and show the way while some threatening black clouds are gathering on the horizon and an impending sense of doom hangs on the sailors...

"Il matrimonio" (The marriage) depicts the beginning of the poem. The music is lively and tries to describe three men on their way to the church where the marriage of one of their relatives is going to be celebrated. Suddenly the music stops and the mood changes. An old sailor stops one of the three men... "Stop, stay a while with me / Listen to me now that you can...". The voice of the singer now is the voice of the ancient mariner...

"Nella tempesta" (In the storm) opens with a thundering drum roll, then aggressive electric guitar riffs and raging organ waves come in. A "tyrannous and strong" storm drives the ship off course, towards south, to Antarctica... The music and lyrics take you on board... "I want to show where it goes / The ship chased by the storm... I still remember it / My ruin began then...".

"E quanto č immenso l'oceano di ghiaccio" (And how vast is the ocean of ice) is a beautiful, complex track that tries to depict a desolated landscape of ice and solitude... After the storm the sun shines high over emerald green ice blocks. The sailors in dismal can see nothing but ice all around them and on the horizon there's no shape of men nor beasts... "No shape nor beast...".

"L'albatro" (The albatross) begins softly and marks the meeting with a strange bird, an albatross. The beautiful bird in some way speaks to the desperate men... "And now turn your gaze to me... Follow me, follow me...". The sailors follow the flight of the bird and find a way out from their prison of ice but at a certain point one of the sailors, the ancient mariner, feels the sudden impulse to shoot the bird with his cross-bow. An aggressive electric guitar riff underlines the infernal action... "And the scream suffocates our breathing... Take me, kill me...".

"Apologia" (Apology) starts in a frenzied way, then a surreal calm comes down... "I committed my infernal action, I killed the beast / First I was condemned, then I was celebrated as a hero / You're guilty as well...". Initially the other sailors got angry with the mariner since they believed that the albatross brought the south wind that led them out of Antarctica. However they changed their heart when the weather became warmer and the mist disappeared since they thought that it was the bird that brought the fog and mist. They made a mistake in supporting this crime as it aroused the wrath of the spirits who then started haunting the ship. The south wind now sends the ship into uncharted waters, where it is becalmed...

"Silenzio del mare" (The silence of the sea) is definitely closer to post rock than to vintage prog and perfectly depicts a long sad time in the sea where the crew has to wait for a breath of wind... "Day after day, day after day / As a painted ship in a windy sky / While our throats were drying...". Time passed by and one day another ship appeared, a ghost ship! "A sail, a sail! / The sail was moving fast the bones of its crew as a spider-web does...".

"Dadi d'ossa" (Dice of bone) is a powerful, dramatic instrumental featuring a good flute work, sharp electric guitar riffs and raging organ waves. It depicts a nightmare where the Grim Reaper and her companion Death-In-Life are casting dice... The winner will take the souls of the sailors!

"La collana dell'albatro (Danse Macabre)" (The necklace of the albatross) is another beautiful track featuring an eerie, hypnotic mood. All the other sailors are dead now and the mariner is alone. He still wears the dead albatross around his neck because of his crime but now he can see some dangerous water-snakes swimming in the sea around him and is charmed by the beauty of their colours. As he blesses them and begins to pray the albatross falls down from his neck as if the guilt was partially expiated... "The light splits the sky and sea / It's high time to set off / It's time to go on... A sun ray gives the crew a new life...". Like magic the dead sailors come back to life and lead the ship near the coast before sinking forever into the water. The protagonist of the story survives...

The dreamy, ethereal "La ballata del vecchio marinaio" (The ballad of the ancient mariner) concludes the album and the story... "Judge this dream / Judge my act / What I committed is a crime / I relished my wishes... I bring my sentence as a sceptre...". Now the listener has to guess the meaning of a nightmare on the borders of reality...

On the whole a very good album!

Report this review (#590066)
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars An Italian group from Forli, Una Volta Eravamo In Sette were formed in 2008 by Francesco Agnoletti (keyboards, electric guitar, vocals), Riccardo Fiorini (vocals, flute), Mattia Massa (electric and acoustic guitar, vocals), Fabrizio Piani (bass) and Mattia Flamigni (drums).They instantly focused on writing original music, based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem ''The rime of the ancient mariner''.Two years later they came up with the album ''La ballata del vecchio marinaio'', which was offered as a free download via the jamendo platform.

A beautiful album of modern Italian Prog and a great display of composing talent, quirky compositions and Italian lyricism, featuring elements spanning from the old years of Classic Italian Prog to modern sounds and sights.While there's not much to do with PANGEA's ''Invasori'', I would compare this album to the lost Italian gem because of its diversity, atmospheric depth and stylistical collage, which contains both psychedelic and folky parts blended with the standard love of Italians for Classical Music.Of course the sound of the band was not very retro-sounding, while there are occasional harder, guitar- oriented parts to be found plus you can add a dash of Fusion in the process.Lots of flute and piano, some delicate symphonic moments, oriental vibes on the opening ''Overture'' and great mixture of acoustic/elegant instrumentals and Medieval/Mediterrenean echoes with full-blown Prog, filled with breaks and changing tempos.I am surprised that such a concept is not dominated by lyrics, the vocals are quite limited to sentimental singing and narrations and the instrumental parts prevail in here with Jazz, Classical, Folk and Rock music meeting in different pairs.HOSTSONATEN might be the best comparison, the Zuffanti project, which loved to combine atmospheric segments with a complex instrumental edge.The guitars have more of a Heavy/Psych meet Post Rock color, but all the rest come from the aforementioned styles with a vast palette of climates completing a great little pearl.

Mattia Flamigni quit from the band in 2012 and I am pretty unsure he was ever replaced.The facebook page of the band does not leave promise for future activities.Fortunately this nice work is free downloadable and anyone in love with the more flexible side of Italian Prog should track this down.Strongly recommended, a very talented band with some true potential, apparently we will never find out if they would ever come up with an even better second record...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1346481)
Posted Friday, January 16, 2015 | Review Permalink

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