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L'OMBRA DELLA SERA

L' Ombra Della Sera

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars Creeeeeepy! Spoooooky! Never thought I would ever enjoy Italian horror cinema soundtracks, until I heard the Morte Macabre project from the Land-nekdoten crew or was it Anek-berg guys? That one blew me sideways; the rolling mellotron thunder was bleepin' staggering. Brooding and oppressive. And plainly delectable.

Now from the land that brought you all this pizza-gore, one could not have chosen better than the Fabio Zuffanti ensemble, incorporating a slew of brilliant musicians from Finisterre, La Maschera di Cera and Hostsonaten. I have already boldly stated that Agostino Macor is the new Italian Wakeman, an expertly subtle ivory tickler that can tackle any style with any instrument. The proof is boundless within the above named releases as well as Zaal, where his jazz prowess is vividly portrayed. This record is for all intended purposes an Agostino Macor solo album, his arsenal of keyboards dominates that much!

"Gamma" is just pure devastating, what a cortex screwing opener! (Not supposed to use the word "screwing", this is a family show!). But gruesome and decadent gore these guys dish out and the result is evidently overpowering. After a smoggy start, the torrents of mellotron wash against extensive whistling synths of the finest pedigree, as the funeral beat marches on, bass pumping and drums rolling. This is a piece written by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin fame and it has that breezy Sergio Leone groove that evokes simplicity, originality and a vintage 70s vibe. Definitely soundtrack music.

"La Traccia Verde" is fragility beyond reason, almost puerile and sedate, restraint and mood ruling the roost. Innocent keyboard flutters, fluted melody and that historic aroma of classic cinema all combine to keep things as mellow as possible, almost a lullaby.

"Il Segno del Commando" is almost funky, in an Italian version of "Isaac Hayes does Shaft", the dastardly clavinet and e-piano doing most of the aural damage and its just plain dazzling. Now one has to remember that these were cheesy, thrill-seeking B movies that had low budgets but decent stories, so the music sincerely reflects that reality and it's also pretty cool that overproduction was not instituted here. The synth solo is weird and the e- piano is bar-room jazzy. Wow! I mean, Wow!

The diaphanous "Ritratto di Donna Velata" is another oblique affair, as a flute breezily quivers over the metronomic doomsday beat, when out of the blue, a vocal enters the fray, courtesy of Alessandro Corviglia (La Maschera di Cera singer) with a subliminal mellotron veil to keep the mood eerie and bombastic. Middle Eastern flute motifs set this into the tomb.

The 17 minute monster is a fitting descriptive of what movie theme music should be = a melody above all and an arrangement that succeeds in bringing out immediate emotional responses. There is little doubt that this apotheosis of creativity is reached here, as this is mind music that drills into the body and makes it sing electric. Subliminal in a multitude of ways, the restraint is as agonizing as the bombastic themes and from the vaporous mist comes the nasty reptilian bass scouring predatorily, urging the waves of metallic mellotron ever forward, the sax blaring as if some KC jam circa "Lizard". And like the Crimson King, the music certainly knows its tangents well, veering off into the densest of musical clouds. The right channel guitar scratches duel with the howling voices on the left. Darn it, it's that stereo "thang agin"! Phenomenal!

Its like watching early 70s TV and groovin' on the music (truth is most of it was fabulous : Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, Deodato (2001 Space Odyseey ), James Bond and Pink Panther themes , and so many more (Moroder, TDream, Vangelis etc?). So this is part of Prog history and we know how much we prog-nerds like to revisit the past now, don't we?

4 Night shadows

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#743772)
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'L'Ombra Della Sera' - L'Ombra Della Sera (7/10)

L'OMBRA DELLA SERA comes to my attention through the musicianship of Fabio Zuffanti, who- among his many projects- is the guy behind HOSTSONATEN, one of Italy's great modern prog acts. Although it's been suggested that this band may only be a one-off experiment and go nowhere in the future, we are left with an interesting piece of soundtrack-worthy music regardless. Following in the footsteps of GOBLIN, L'OMBRA DELLA SERA douses their music in the spooky thrills of Italian horror cinema, creating an eerie and pleasantly atmospheric ride that tugs on a listener's imagination without pulling them in completely.

Fabio Zuffanti is a pretty well known character in the Italian prog scene, after having put out so much music. This great quantity does not seem to have come at the cost of quality, however. On top of the core trio (bass, keyboards, drums), the music of L'OMBRA DELLA SERA is beautifully arranged to feature flutes, horns, and even a tender, albeit superfluous vocal section on the album's fourth track 'Ritratto di Donna Velata'. The music on this self-titled debut is generally kept quite loose, perhaps best described as a mix of jazz fusion and eerie Italian synth atmosphere. Much in tune with the vibe of a horror film, the music of L'OMBRA DELLA SERA creeps along, preferring to entice a listener in, rather than handing them the instant gratification of 'catchy melodies' and other, decidedly non-spooky musical elements.

Just barely scraping the edge of ambient music, Zuffanti and co. are making drawn-out music, in that it does not seem best meant for an active listen. Although the recording is clear and the musicianship filled with dynamic, L'OMBRA DELLA SERA tend to take quite a bit longer to say something than the average progressive rock band. Although this works wonders for its vibe as a 'hypothetical soundtrack', for intents and purposes as an album its most overdrawn explorations verge of boredom. Heavy on atmosphere, but light on surprise or activity, 'L'Ombra Della Sera' is a very good album, but it is one that requires a relaxed ear to enjoy it.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#747114)
Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Vintage 70s styled soundtrack rock

L'ombra Della Sera are a new project from prolific Italian soundsmith Fabio Zuffanti and his cohorts Maurizio Di Tollo and Agostino Macor from the modern symphonic outfit La Maschera Di Cera. The idea was to pay homage to those groovy Italian sountracks/tv themes from the 1970s by doing new interpretations using vintage instruments and techniques. The original compositions were written by well known composers Enrico Simonetti, Berto Pisano, Romeo Grano, and Riz Ortolani, however the new arrangements are so ambitious and carefully crafted that they feel like something completely fresh.

The five pieces which range in length from four minutes to an 18 minute monster combine that spooky horror movie retro vibe with the refined professionalism of these individuals. They took this project very seriously and the results are evident. Starting with the somewhat campy and spooky-fun soundtrack backbone, which creates a dramatic and very visual feel, they draw on classical, jazz, funk, and rock to arrive at a sophisticated final piece. The moods and pace vary, sometimes sequences are relaxing and melodic with the mellotron and period keys, other times they veer into VDGG styled semi-dissonance with wailing saxophones and tortured sound welling up louder and louder.

"Gamma" features evocative ambient beginnings as strange voices hide in the shadows around rising synth fog, then it shifts a bit into a more straight ahead rock section with a mild jazzy flavor. Some of the sound choices remind me of the Jacula/Rex albums but without the heavy occult vibe. "Il Segno Della Comando" has a funky and playful sound with Fender Rhodes, Moog, Tron, and some nice flute work. The showcase piece is the 18 minute "Ho Incontrato Un Ombra." Beginning with somber brass atop the e-piano it quickly adds lovely operatic vocals though they are soft and tasteful. After about four minutes of calming introspection we get the first hints of the mania to come, a sinister and off-putting riff is introduced as the keys and drumming begin to dissolve into a chaotic soup. Enter the sax and we soon have that VDGG feel--a band in my opinion as influential to the RPI scene despite the constant Genesis proclamations. Halfway through we are stuck in a haunting sequence of wordless female vocals, trippy spooky vibes, strange percussion and string scratching noises. The track gets louder as it breathlessly lurches to conclusion.

Mostly instrumental and atmospheric, "L'ombra Della Sera" is a unique album and a flawlessly made one which should appeal to many prog fans. It's a good album but personally I can't rate it higher, for as with nearly all Zuffanti projects there is just something missing that I long for in music. If I'm ever able to articulate precisely what that is, I'll get back to you.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#755285)
Posted Saturday, May 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars When it comes to modern Italian prog, it's no secret that Fabio Zuffanti is one of the most prolific figures in the scene. Zuffanti has been involved in so many projects over the years that it's difficult to keep track of all the things he's participated in, but his involvement in this new band immediately grabbed my attention. L'Ombra Della Sera is a trio featuring Agostino Macor on keyboards, Fabio Zuffanti on bass, and Maurizio Di Tollo on drums, and their self-titled debut aims to recreate some classic Italian soundtracks and TV themes from the 1970's. Very much in the style of the seventies', the musical style that the trio explores is somewhere in the realm between retro symphonic prog and jazz fusion; the retro aesthetics are further strengthened by the vintage keyboard palette and warm, early seventies' sounding production. In short, if you're a fan of Italian prog and fusion, L'Ombra Della Sera is not one to miss.

Though L'Ombra Della Sera is only a three-piece, their music is often fleshed out with the addition of other instruments. Trumpet, saxophone, flute, and vocals will all make an appearance over the course of the album, and while Agostino Macor's massive keyboard palette is often enough to create a full arrangement, these other instruments are integral to the songs they are featured in. Whether it be a lovely flute solo or a wailing saxophone outburst, it always feels like a critical part of the music. L'Ombra Della Sera also has some pretty dark atmospheres throughout its duration, and although you'll be treated to some funky fusion in "Il Segno Del Comando (Cento Campane)" and light-hearted cinematics in "La Traccia Verde", the rest of the album tends to veer into territory that may be darker than you would've expected. For my money, I think this variation in moods and styles makes L'Ombra Della Sera an absolute joy to listen to - the band has a masterful grasp on every style that they attempt, and that's surely due to every member's incredible level of experience in the music-making business.

L'Ombra Della Sera is an album I've really enjoyed listening to over the past few weeks, and if you enjoy seventies' instrumental prog, odds are that you'll dig this album too. The musicianship is every bit as astounding as you'd expect it to be from a cast of such prolific musicians, and their unique approach to retro-sounding progressive rock is what makes this such an incredible album. Whereas many bands that try to recreate the sound of the seventies' end up feeling derivative and unoriginal, L'Ombra Della Sera is one of the few who manages to shed a new light on an old style, resulting in a sound that is uniquely their own. Judging by the strength of this debut, I really hope that L'Ombra Della Sera doesn't end up being a one-off project, but if it does, at least they've left us with this spectacular release.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#759296)
Posted Sunday, May 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
andrea
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars L'Ombra della Sera (the name means 'the evening shadow') is a side project of three members of La Maschera di Cera: Fabio Zuffanti (bass), Agostino Macor (keyboards) and Maurizio Di Tollo (drums). Their aim was to recreate the atmospheres and the sounds of some Italian TV dramas from the early seventies but, in fact, the original themes taken from some old scores of that period are just a starting point since the band reinterpret them adding and developing new ideas, moulding and shaping something new with excellent results. In 2012 L'Ombra della Sera released an eponymous album on the independent label AMD/Btf featuring five covers rearranged and enhanced with the help of some guest musicians 'undercover', including the other members of La Maschera di Cera.

The opener 'Gamma' was composed by Enrico Simonetti, father of Goblin's leader Claudio Simonetti, and comes from the soundtrack of a TV drama in four episodes of the same name directed by Salvatore Nocita in 1975. It's a sci-fi story set in Paris dealing with some crimes and a brain transplant. The band develop the initial theme with a dark, psychedelic taste and in my opinion the result is surprisingly good.

'La traccia verde' by Berto Pisano is taken from the soundtrack of a TV drama in three episodes of the same name directed by Silvio Maestranzi in 1975. It's a strange crime story mixed with science fiction where a case of murder is solved thanks to the signals emitted by some very particular witnesses, some plants present on the crime scene. It begins softly and the mood is dreamy.

'Ritratto di donna velata' by Riz Ortolani is taken from the soundtrack of a TV drama in five episodes directed by Flaminio Bollani in 1975. It's a mystery story, a noir set in Tuscany where on the opening theme appears the mysterious Etruscan statue called 'L'ombra della sera' that gives the name to this project. The original theme here is rearranged with a funky groove pulsing under a veil of mystery. By the way, in the track list on the CD cover there's an inversion between track number three and track number four.

'Il segno del comando (Cento campane)' by Romeo Grano is taken from the soundtrack of a very successful TV drama in five episodes directed by Daniele D'Anza in 1971. It's an esoteric crime story set in Rome with an intriguing screenplay by the writer Giuseppe D'Agata. It features a vocal part that according to the liner notes is provided by Marco Tagliaferri but this is just a pseudonym. Marco Tagliaferri is one of the characters of the TV drama while this piece is sung by La Maschera di Cera's singer Alessandro Corvaglia. In the liner notes you will find also other characters from the TV dramas credited as musicians.

The last track 'Ho incontrato un'ombra (A blue shadow)' by Berto Pisano is taken from the soundtrack of a TV drama in four episodes of the same name directed by Daniele D'Anza in 1974. It's a crime story intertwined with mystery and romance where an obscure past haunts the protagonists. The original theme is developed as if in a long jam session with elements of free jazz.

On the whole a very nice album that gives you the chance to plunge back in the past through images and sounds.

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Send comments to andrea (BETA) | Report this review (#864074)
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Is there anything bad that could ever be said about music written by the guys from La Maschera di Cera? In yet another of Fabio Zuffanti's projects, L'Ombra della Sera, they manage to touch a number of styles, including, but not limited to, prog, jazz, cantebury, and avant-garde. In my opinion, this project sounds pretty different from La Maschera di Cera. It doesn't adhere so tightly to the 70's symphonic prog sound, but rather, each track seems to lean towards a distinct musical direction, be it jazz, symphonic, eclectic, or even folk. As can be expected from this group of Italians, the composition is concise and melodic while the performances are professionally and tastefully executed. My personal favorite instrument on the record?: the flute; it's absolutely beautiful, so listen for it. Lots of great Rhodes and even some Mellotron on here too. If you're familiar with these guys' work, you'll be expecting good stuff, and they'll deliver it..

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Send comments to Progulator (BETA) | Report this review (#1287569)
Posted Saturday, October 04, 2014 | Review Permalink

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