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La Nuova Era - La Nuova Era CD (album) cover


La Nuova Era

Crossover Prog

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars A very distinctive and unique album among progressive Italian releases, the sole self titled LP by La Nuova Era sounds unlike any other and is well deserving of reappraisal. Entirely instrumental except for one short female vocal piece, the album features delicate instrumentation by way of a frequent blending of floating synths over gentle acoustic guitar, drifting ambience and classical piano atmosphere weaving around pulsing icy electronic soundscapes. Try to imagine a slightly darker mix of 70's and 80's Tangerine Dream mixed with a gentle Xian acoustics and you might have a better idea of what to expect. The somewhat murky production gives much of the album a slightly grim and confronting sound, ensuring the Christian elements maintain a very reflective and somber tone. The striking stony grey illustration of a crucifix on the cover is perfectly suited to the soundtrack as well.

The album opens with a cold and slowly pulsing spacey beat that's soon joined by brooding synths, humming electronics washing over the listener before abrasive piano suddenly punches through the mournful atmosphere. `L'Angelo Gabriele' has delicate piano, acoustic guitar and crystalline synths trilling over the top and is a more comforting piece that wraps around you. Folk ballad `Il Figlio Di Maria', the only track to feature a brief passage of lovely female vocals, brings acoustic percussion and placid recorder ambience before things turns rather strange with warping synth effects all over the finale, creating quite a disorientating effect. `Fiori Di Galilea' sounds like a cross between 70's Tangerine Dream with shimmering electronics and the hazy acoustic pieces by David Gilmour from the early acid-folk moments of late 60's Pink Floyd. `Luce Del Nord' is a brooding, monolithic stone of cold electronica that sounds like it belongs to a dark sci-fi film. Fascinating, yet far too brief at just under three minutes.

`La Beffa' (Il Processo) instantly lifts the mood, another electronic piece but this time with an uplifting and majestic melody over marching percussion and tambourine. Then, with a title like `Luciferus', it's no wonder the seventh track features gloomy synths with a stirring and ghostly hypnotic piano melody that wouldn't have sounded out of place on an album by Italian horror band Goblin! There's a real frantic sound and epic rising drama to this one, especially when the acoustic guitar solos in the second half, making it an absolute album highlight. After another sorrowful but short electronic nightmare piece over howling winds, the title track is a triumphant and grand synth passage to finish on a reflective and deeply spiritual mood.

So is `La Nuova Era' a long lost classic or very important album in the long tradition of Italian progressive music? Absolutely not. But it is a very original crossover of styles that makes it stand out from plenty of other LP's, and is an immersive, thoughtful and evocative work in it's own right that I truly treasure. I have certainly never heard a Xian album like it, or many other Italian albums that combine these particular styles and sounds in such a way. For this reason, it's an album worth listening to and being appreciated now after being forgotten so long ago, and it can be rediscovered thanks to the CD reissue by Mellow Records.

Four stars.

Report this review (#965275)
Posted Sunday, May 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Not to be confused with the legendary act of the same name from Tuscany, La Nuova Era was a mysterious group from Italy that released only one self-titled, privately pressed LP in 1984.The material was written by La Compagnia dell'Anello's keyboardist Marinella Di Nunzio for a Christmas event and it is rumored that the performing group is actually La Compagnia dell'Anello under a different name.The album was re-released in 1994 by Mellow Records in CD format.

The connections and rumours with and around LA COMPAGNIA DELL'ANELLO do not stop here, as La Nuova Era actually sound quite close to Di Nunzio's regular band.This is dreamy and ethereal, mostly instrumental Prog Folk with borderline New Age aesthetics, basically played on flutes, piano and acoustic guitars with a somber mood and some trully imaginative soundscapes created by the musicians...not really suitable for a Christmas event actually.The instrumentation includes also a fair amount of synthesizer lines and mandolin.The tracks are short but beautiful with a trippy, almost psychedelic atmosphere at moments, recalling PEPE MAINA's late-70's albums, albeit a bit more minimalistic and 80's-sounding through the cosmic use of synthesizers.There are some great flute parts in a few tracks with a light symphonic flavor.However the majority of ''La nuova era'' passes through rural textures with acoustic guitars and piano as the leading instruments, producing lovely images somewhere between Folk and soft Electronic Music with compatriot RICCARDO ZAPPA being often a good comparison as well.

Very far from rich or adventurous music.However ''La nuova era'' is more than a respectable album.It's a great and inventive combination of two ages, the modern one with its new-established synth sound and the old one with the totally acoustic armour.Nice and recommended stuff.

Report this review (#1157386)
Posted Saturday, April 5, 2014 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars Note! This is not Walter Pini's NUOVA ERA, and, apart from the name and country of origin, bears no similarity to that band either.

The mythology surrounding the genesis of this obscurity is somewhat neutralized by the largely low impact music herein. But firstly, I must immediately dispel the notion that this is a crossover of prog and pop or other mainstream styles. It's essentially a new age album appropriate for its time, almost entirely instrumental, with certain progressive elements in the interweaving of synthesizers and acoustic guitar. The pieces range from the entirely ambient to partially ambient with discernible melodies. The titular themes are Christian, but, with lyrics in only one track, that's neither a blessing nor a curse.

Apart from some of the more ambient duos and trios that haunted labels like Narada and Windham Hill, I'm reminded of POPOL VUH or some of the experimental works that were appended to AMENOPHIS' self titled album. I wish I could invoke more geographically intimate environs given that LA NUOVA ERA was Italian, but I did listen to a few pieces from the shrouded LA COMPAGNIA DELL'ANELLO, the band that composer Marinella Di Nunzio is somewhat known for, and, yes, some of their material is very similar sounding, when they are not singing their (apparently) right wing shanties. Also, think a God fearing GOBLIN and you won't be too far off.

Lest you run and hide or, alternatively, order it pronto and program this for your Wednesday evening Zen Buddhist meditation gathering, I do want to add that a couple of the offerings are minor masterpieces of pastoral sensitivity. In particular, "Il Figlio Di Maria (La Nascita)", the only one with voice, albeit spare, is a nigh Celtic sounding piece with a form of tin whistle and a synthesizer that sounds like one of those gags in which someone with no background in carpentry plays a saw for everything it's worth, bringing the house down. "Luciferus (La Crocefissione)" is even better, with eerie GOBLIN styled synths, piano and succinct acoustic guitar phrases. The best of the rest is probably "L'Angelo Gabriele (L'Annunciazione)", but I think its techniques are better explored on the aforementioned.

While LA NUOVA ERA rates but a low font footnote in prog, or any other music history, if the descriptions above find you still intrigued against your better judgement, then off you go to procure this Mellow Records mellow record.

Report this review (#1814397)
Posted Thursday, October 19, 2017 | Review Permalink

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