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Labirinto Di Specchi - Hanblecheya CD (album) cover

HANBLECHEYA

Labirinto Di Specchi

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Porcupine Tree meets Pholas Dactylus?"

Well, that's how their label Lizard Records describes them! Labirinto di Specchi (Labyrinth of Mirrors) is a band from Siena who've been around since about 2005. "Hanblecheya" is their proper full-length debut released on Lizard Records. The band consists of regulars Gabriele Marroni, Filippo Menconi, Andrea Valerio, Raffaele Crezzini, and Michele Sanchini, and the liner notes list many collaborators as well. One of those collabs is none other than Paolo Carelli, vocalist of the legendary Pholas Dactylus band of the RPI heyday. Lizard's Loris Furlan apparently arranged to connect them with Carelli. Just as Museo Rosenbach's Lupo Galifi brought experience and musical wisdom to this year's sensation Il Tempio Delle Clessidre, Carelli is great in his role with Labirinto. He told a web reviewer that he was moved to work with the band, saying "They are all students, very young, and in their eyes I saw a light, a desire to create."

"Hanblecheya" is a word which refers to the desire for an Indian vision quest, a ritual of enlightenment, if I understand correctly. It's a fitting theme for the enticing music found within this adventurous album. The album is not easy to pigeonhole and it incorporates a wide range of audio delights. I suppose one can start by calling it a mixture of modern electronic and psych-rock, with lesser elements of post-rock, folk, fusion, avant, relaxing ambient textures, and even raga in one or two spots. These diverse morsels are then merged with the classical element of the strings, the lovely sad melodies of the piano, and the dramatic recitational vocal style of Carelli, these latter elements fitting well under the stylistic genes of the RPI. They don't exactly mimic any one band I could name, but I will say that they make me think of Battiato, Il Babau & I Maledetti Cretini, Mappe Nootiche, Il Paese dei Balocchi, and Djam Karet to name a few.

The album unfolds like a low altitude flight, traveling great distances over changing landscapes. Tribal hand percussions behind soft piano and spacey, echoing guitar chords and phased effects. Acoustic guitars teaming with haunting cello, beautiful crescendos of strings, guitars, and a dynamic rhythm section. Dramatic vocal narrations over avant-garde sections building to great tension. Emotional releases from fiery guitar solos easing back to tranquil piano playing. It's a turbulent and often stormy feeling, even menacing at times, but finding respite when you need it. And it's not all serious. There are some playful moments as well. There is one track which borrows heavily from the great rock themes of Zeppelin's "Achilles Last Stand." Whether this was intentional or not I have no idea, but I do know it's pretty damn cool and Zep fans will spot it right away. The album also sports a 19 minute epic track called "Follia" which will not disappoint the headphones/dark room set.

"Hanblecheya" is not a masterpiece in my book, but it is a fine debut which I believe will lead to more albums. Intriguing, trippy, and often exhilarating, the sense of adventure is with Labirinto. About 3 ˝ stars, may adjust after more spins-this was an early review.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#417799)
Posted Thursday, March 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I'm so impressed with this young Italian band. Very adventerous music with lots of atmosphere and darker moods along with some heaviness contrasted with spacey and laid back passages.The vocals are from guest Paolo Carelli (PHOLAS DACTYLUS) and really he speaks the lyrics instead of singing them like he's doing narration. It all works so well though with his deep voice speaking in Italian.

"Eclissi Pt.1-L'occio E La Masheri" opens with lots of atmosphere and it's dark. Spoken words just before 2 minutes followed by spacey synths. Drums kick in around 3 minutes followed by piano.Some heavy guitar later on.Back to that dark atmosphere to end it. "La Mascera Della Visione" opens with outbursts of heaviness before it settles in.The spoken words after 2 minutes come out of the heavy atmosphere.The guitar starts to grind away before 3 minutes then it turns heavier including some organ runs.

"Fantasia" opens with acoustic guitar as flute joins in with atmosphere. A beat too as it builds. Cello and bass join in.The tempo then picks up. Great sound ! It settles back then we get some spoken words 7 minutes in. "Nel Nulla Etereo Soggiogato..." opens with atmosphere and spacey sounds.Spoken words after a minute. Dissonance follows. Piano and some insanity before 4 minutes then cello as spoken words continue for a while longer. "Purpurea" opens with spacey synths then the sound builds with bass, drums, acoustic guitar and more. A change after 1 1/2 minutes as the drums and keyboards lead. Heavy guitar a minute later. Nice. A change 4 1/2 minutes in as spoken words come in with a dark atmosphere. It's heavier again after 6 1/2 minutes.The guitar solos after 7 minutes then it settles again a minute later. Heavy guitar 9 1/2 minutes to end it. What a song !

"Follia" is the over 19 minute epic.This really has a Post-Rock flavour to it. Acoustic guitar and atmosphere as it builds slowly. It settles back and builds slowly again. It settles back with spoken words before 6 1/2 minutes then kicks in again before 9 minutes. It settles again a minute later. Heavy guitar before 12 minutes and the organ joins in. Nice. It settles back with piano.The tempo picks up after 15 minutes.Intense sound 17 1/2 minutes in with spacey synths shooting around. "Eclissi Pt.2-La Genesi" has a catchy drum intro as other sounds are added. It settles 1 1/2 minutes in to a dark mood. A change 3 1/2 minutes in. A beat 5 minutes in. A calm follows after 6 1/2 minutes and this is dark and haunting. Cello 7 minutes in then spoken words.

I just love the ideas these guys came up with and all that atmosphere too.The cover art suits the music well. Congrats to the band, and a very solid 4 stars from me. My kind of music.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#466510)
Posted Tuesday, June 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Enter to this Labyrinth!

Because once you are there, you will be reflected in its mirrors, and will enjoy each and every one of them. At least that happened with me since the very first time I listened to the album. Labirinto di Specchi is a new Italian band whose debut album entitled "Hanblecheya" was released this 2011 via Lizard Records. This is an album with seven compositions and a total time of 70 minutes. I thank Claudio Milano for introducing me to them.

It opens with "Eclissi Pt. 1: L'occhio e la maschera", since the very first seconds we will listen to a tense ambient with spacey atmospheres and before reaching the second minute, a male voice appears, starting a narration. We can appreciate to a wonderful cello sound, accompaniying the synths and other strings. One minute later it changes and a new structure is being built, with great piano, percussions and cool bass notes.

"La Maschera della Visione" seems to be the continuation of the previous track, because it has a pretty similar sound, at least in the first moments. The music may be labeled as eclectic prog, with a great mixture of symphonic sounds, atmospheric and spacey nuances, with cool changes in mood and tempo, making a really ambitious album. This is the shortest track, but it is an excellent one, nonetheless.

"Fantasia" has a beautiful and charming sound, with acoustic guitar and cello at first, then joined by drums, bass and synth. This gentle sound prevails for at least four minutes, until it makes a vertiginous change to a faster rhythm and an explosive sound. There is a new passage after seven minutes, with a constant drum beat, cool atmospheric piano and synth, and the narrative voice. This is a wonderful song!

"Nel nulla ettereo? la mente si spande" is a weird track, with strange noises that put tension and chaos to the sound, some kind of confusion, indecision, while the guitars, piano, and other instruments put their grain of sand. The narration continues here, but sometimes the voice is really far, behind the instruments, which creates even more tension or even preoccupation. The electronic element is inherent in this track, and gives a kind of industrial sound.

"Purpurea" is one of my favorite tracks, I love the contagious and addictive rhythm implemented here. Once you are inside the labyrinth, you will not escape, but actually because you will not want to escape. I love the bass lines, the drums, that fast and adventurous sound here. Some minutes later the song slows down considerably, allowing us to take a breath and feel tranquil, safe and sound. Later it rises up again, and creates an emotional sound, with some post-rock hints; it is like a twister or rollercoaster of sounds, wonderful track!

Now the longest song, an ambitious and challenging 19-epic entitled "Foll(i)a". This is a song in which you will find several changes, several passages, with an eclectic sound and that wonderful mixture that I've mentioned earlier, that creates the own Labirinto di Specchi style. I love the narrative voice, the inner and sudden changes in time and tempo, the different moods one single track can create, going from tranquility to nervousness, and a several adjectives I could mention. The variations of rhythm and diversity of styles, makes this a unique and rich track, which I highly recommend and praise, since it obviously involved a lot of work, and makes evident the compositional skills of the band's members.

Finally, "Eclissi Pt. 2: La Genesi" which starts with a bombastic sound that after a minute and a half vanishes, in order to create a new, softer and spacey atmosphere. Then little by little it is progressing, adding new elements, putting different textures and colors, until it reaches a climax at the half of the song. I love the piano and its nuances, and in general I love the work of every musician here. There is also a kind of mid-east sound, with a beautiful cello and sitar sound, which is wonderfully used, and intercalated later with the narrative voice. Great final track!

I am really happy with this original, ambitious album from Labirinto di Specchi, I would highly recommend it to everyone who likes progressive rock. My final grade will be four strong stars.

Enjoy it!

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Send comments to memowakeman (BETA) | Report this review (#563445)
Posted Sunday, November 06, 2011 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars Wow, I am very impressed with this album. I haven't heard a lot of modern RPI but what I have heard disappointed me, sounding like retro prog. This, on the other hand, sounds more what I would expect present day RPI to sound like. Besides being based in classic Italian prog, there are some more modern influences like metal and post-rock here as well. The only vocals on the album are the narration of Paulo Cerelli, formally of Pholas Dactylus (whose sole 1973 album I have only recently heard). This is listed here as a 2011 release but without having it handy I'm pretty sure my copy has a 2010 date. If this is considered a 2011 release then it is one of the better releases this year without a doubt.

The music itself is a mix of the spacey, the symphonic and the heavy. Some great retro synth sounds are used and a guest musician plays violincello. The sound is great for a modern recording, not too compressed and every instrument has room to breathe. After a spacey opening with narration, "Eclissi Pt. 1" goes into symphonic metal before getting more folky and jazzy with piano and percussion. Later more metal with great classical piano runs. At over 1 minute into "La maschera della visione" it goes into Zeuhl territory similar to Italian Zeuhl bands Runaway Totem and Universal Totem Orchestra. Later some narration backed by some spacey quasi-metal. Gets more intense with the organ. Great synth sounds here including an awesome solo.

"Fantasia" features some lovely acoustic guitars, violincello and cymbals as bass and drumkit join them. After 3 minutes gets very folky with a nice bouncy beat. Then immediately goes into breath-taking symphonic prog. The bouncy beat later returns in a post-rock fashion with narration. Although the whole album is very consistent, track #4 with a very long title is the weakest on the album. Spacey and slightly avant this features narration and lots of percussion sounds. The percussion dies out at one point as hypnotic guitar enters and percussion comes back with altered talking in the background and random piano playing. Some of the percussion sounds electronic or heavily modified.

"Purpurea" has some retro-sounding spacey synth leading to what sounds like programmed drums and a Mellotron-like sound with acoutic guitar and bass. Real drummer enters as the band goes into uptempo symph prog with some metal guitar. Later some post-rock guitars and violincello along with narration. Then full blown post-rock with metal guitar soloing. Develops some post-rock style crescendos. "Follia" is a 19 minute epic that starts off with sorta Post/sorta Spanish acoustic guitar playing along with atmospheric and spacey sounds. Full band then comes in.

Some funky auto-wah bass. Repeated guitar notes lead to spacey synths that remind me of Jean Michel-Jarre's Oxygene album. Goes into some kind of space/post/symph hybrid. Some more narration. Later builds towards spacey metal with piano. Great organ soloing at one point over symphonic post-rock. Symphonic string-synth as the rest of the band slowly increases in tempo, playing post-rock style. Nice way to end the epic but despite it's length is not one of the highlights of the album. Last song "Eclissi Pt. 2" starts with a catchy drumbeat, then proceeds into symphonic metal territory. Symph metal fades out and is replaced by Tool-sounding spacey post-rock type stuff (or something).

Symphonic synths get added. Goes into a piano-based post-rock vibe, then prog metal with sitar. Violincello reminding me of chamber prog sets the pace for some more narration. Ends on a spacey note. What an album! It's nice to know that even in 2011 there is still great new music being made...that will be ignored by almost everyone. I would highly recommend this album to fans of RPI. A modern classic? Time will tell. 4 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#575655)
Posted Saturday, November 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Here's the kind of album/band that (to me) will be leaving no affective trace after listening, even repeated listenings! The reason? The extremely weak development of ideas and a lack of creativity in those. The essence or basis of the music can be described as a kind of soft space rock, very gentle maybe too gentle! The pieces are generally well introduced, with in particular a nice use of cellos and throughout an expressive and clean bass; if the musical car has no problem to come out of the garage, shift to second gear, then the problems start when reaching the cruise speed ..... in third gear, without never shifting to the fourth!! The same guitar or piano lines get repeated so long that you may fall asleep, the band shows a very bad taste in the use of synthesizers, throwing all the time bleeeeps and woooooiiings like a rain, without at any time proving they can do a better use of those machines, they just keep with the easy solution - bleeps here and washes there - and repeat it ad libitum; what a boring background! Another weak point is a rather uninspiring drumming, not too creative too, even if things move a bit in the 19 minutes long track "Foll(i)a" - Crazy(ness). Oh we are still far from craziness, even this tune is not really very exciting, too many and long repetitions, the soup is cooked so long that no taste is left. Same simple diatonic melodic lines and harmonies all the way through! If the goal of the band was to hypnotize its listener, it doesn't even work because you stay at the point where you are CONSCIOUS that someone is trying to hypnotize you but you never reach the next point where you're supposed to be in their hands; instead you wait and watch small unambitious things passing by until you run out of patience and push the eject button. Maybe the band achieved instead a self-hypnose with no one to wake them up? Two and a half stars.

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Send comments to Music By Mail (BETA) | Report this review (#585069)
Posted Friday, December 09, 2011 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars Il Labirinto di Specchi is another discovery that transcends the boundaries of prog once again, clearly showing off the incredible inspiration from young Italian musicians who remain dedicated to expanding new frontiers of the RPI genre. This recording seeks to blur the line between Space/Psychedelic, Electronic, Avant-Garde and the classic Italian school of Prog. Thanks to my good friends at PA for hitching me on this ride (Finn, Mr.Davie et al?) . The premise here is directed at more experimental options, bookended by the Eclissi pieces that characterize the band's esoteric vision, starring impulsive bass player Filippo Menconi who slaps, slams and throttles bewitchingly, aided and abetted by two keyboardists who fancy swirling synthesizer spirals to adorn their craft and a coarse guitarist in Gabriele Marroni , unafraid to shred convincingly. This is not easy music by any standards, demanding a fair amount of concentration, as the moods shift constantly like some unending earthquake, tremors galore. On the spectral "Fantasia" the bass rumbles defiant, pulsating as if twitched by some unknown spasm, unpredictably guiding the listener towards some distant sonic bliss. Paolo Carelli's narration provides an appropriate context with brief readings that only supply deeper breath and width to the proceedings. On the next track, there are dark and dissonant intervals that shock one into disbelief, somewhat similar to cascading dreams colliding with indistinct nightmares, a perpetual sense of phantom imbalance and ghostly dread vying for supremacy. This is no Neo-prog by any stretch, nothing romantic here at all. Fun though?.The 10 minute "Purpurea" resorts to more conventional fare, brooding at first and then evolving into more muscular musings, the bass way ahead of the game. The pace becomes fast and furious with hints of modern KC walking on air, spurious acknowledgement of higher powers leading the charge, spotlighting Marroni's axe blasting away with grim abandon. Hot Dog! Crank up the volume lever, per piacere! A fab piano mid- section only contributes to the post-rock feel. Again, this is not easy listening by any stretch and does require a little patience, as everything develops at its own restrained rate. The epic "Folia" is the monster track here ticking in over 19 minutes and stamping this musical passport with approved entry into the prog big leagues. Acoustic guitar and synth noise coalesce in the early phases, slowly ratcheting up the angst with added oomph and bravado. Bassman gurgles set the new course playfully, twirling synths effervescing and the diabolical piano tickling the devout spine being the master attributes of this aural design. Talk about a frenetic trip into celestial expanses! Nothing like a little Hammond organ to spook the senses as well as some sliding guitar leads. The outro finale is pure chaos and explosion. The finale "Eclissi pt 2" confirms their ticket to future auditions and the occasional experimental voyage into diverse universes. A simple drum beat that holds no apparent mercy finds itself coupled with that darn swirly synth, morphing into a dreamy hodge-podge of sound and reflection, hints of oriental spice in the air. The mood is haunting and ethereal.

Most adventurous proglovers will enjoy this, some of the more impatient ones will avoid this band of moody Italians, which is a shame. It's all about discovery

Their next one will define their legacy once and for all and I am in wait. A definite 4 mirrored maze.

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#595557)
Posted Saturday, December 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Italian band LABIRINTO DI SPECCHI was formed sometime around 2005, and since the release of a demo tape the same year they have been working on their full-length debut album. The end result is the CD "Hanblecheya", which was released by Lizard Records towards the end of 2010.

As tantalizing and intriguing as Labirinto Di Specchi's exploits are, they won't appeal to everyone. If you have a taste for electronic and acoustic instrument interactions you will have an advantage, but apart from that, those who generally appreciate ambient, dream-laden music just as much as textured post rock excursions and futuristic-sounding psychedelic music should all have a fairly good chance of enjoying this album. Progressive rock for an eclectic mind of a rather particular nature, one might say.

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Send comments to Windhawk (BETA) | Report this review (#615302)
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
andrea
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Labirinto di Specchi (the name means maze of mirrors) came to life in Chiusi, in the province of Siena, in 2005 with the ambitious aim to blend progressive rock with other forms of art such as poetry, painting and philosophy. After some years of hard work, in 2009 the band started the recording sessions of their d'but album, 'Hanblecheya', with a line up featuring Raffaele Crezzini (drums, percussion), Gabriele Marroni (guitars), Filippo Menconi (bass), Andrea Valerio (piano, lead synth) and Diego Samo (keyboards, synth) plus two special guests: former Pholas Dactylus' front-man Paolo Carelli (vocals) and Michele Sanchini (cello). The album was released in 2010 on the independent label Lizard Records and the result is an interesting mix of vintage sounds, post rock and psychedelia. According to the band, the title 'Hanblecheya' is taken from a Native American language and means 'crying the vision'. As you can guess, this is a conceptual work where the music and lyrics try to conjure up powerful, evocative visions. While listening to the music you can see flowers of light and hidden shadows as in a dream while forgotten thoughts and free emotions come back from your unconscious.

The opener 'Eclissi Pt. 1 ' L'occhio e la maschera' (Eclipse Pt.1 ' The eye and the mask) sets a mystic atmosphere and Paolo Carelli's narrative vocals draw the image of a mysterious mask that slowly begins to hide the sun and the moon unchaining a timeless madness without any logic. Phenomena triggered by an uncontrollable reality begin to take shape... On the following 'La maschera della visione' (The mask of vision) whipping synth waves announce a change and your mind, filled with desire, starts to run towards the unknown and tries to seize it... 'The conscience is silent and soars / The visionary mask becomes alive / The hidden truth unfolds...'.

'Fantasia' (Imagination) is a long, spectacular ride into the unknown where you could find yourself wandering in beautiful, hidden places and getting lost in wonderful dreams. Next comes the dark, disquieting 'Nel nulla etereo soggiogato dall'ignoto la mente si espande' (In the ethereal void, subjugated by the unknown, the mind spreads out) where dreams seem to turn into nightmares. The narrative vocals and the obstinate percussive patterns evoke an ancestral spirituality and American Western plains and fights between the native people and the blue soldiers... 'I've walked, I've seen, I've run... I've heard sounds that no one had ever heard before... I've seen enormous butterflies and spiders dancing with snakes and cormorants... I've seen my body lying in the dust just before entering into the hut of sweat...'.

On the tense, nervous 'Purpurea' (Purple) deep red colours prevail while the music and lyrics conjure up a subtle sense of fear. Then the chains of conscience melt and you can perceive the energy of life, you are filled with this energy and you miss it in the same time. Then comes the long, complex 'Foll(i)a' (Madness/Crowd) where the tight rope of equilibrium is shaken and madness spreads all around. Threatening, ever changing clouds run across the sky, you can feel that everything is trembling around you and everything gets blurred while strange sounds strike hidden keys in your mind.

The conclusive 'Eclissi Pt. 2 ' La genesi' (Eclipse Pt. 2 ' The genesis) closes the circle. There's a new burst of energy then the spiritual, cathartic experience comes to an end and slowly the sun rise again from behind the mask of vision. Well, on the whole I think that this is a really good album and that it's worth listening to!

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Send comments to andrea (BETA) | Report this review (#1048544)
Posted Monday, September 30, 2013 | Review Permalink

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