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Nichelodeon

RIO/Avant-Prog


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zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars This is a 30 minute live set featuring tracks from Italian group Nichelodeon's 2010 album 'il gioco del silenzio'. Two of the songs here were originally on Nichelodeon's debut live album Cinemanemico before they were recorded for the studio album. I have not heard the live debut yet so I don't know how those embryonic versions of those tracks compare to later versions. Besides the studio album I am also familiar with those two songs on the live DVD Come Sta, Annie? Unlike previous versions of these songs this line-up includes a drummer, which adds a more 'rock' based feel which in general this performance was going for. Nichelodeon are on the fringes of progressive rock but here they are fully a part of it. This would be a good starting point for anyone interested in this group.

Everyone except the drummer was on the original versions. There is electric guitar here as there was on the originals. Singer Claudio Milano does a great job singing these songs. Being familiar with some of his many projects, I can tell when it's him singing; he is a very talented vocalist who generally has a style all his own. The keyboardist also uses a laptop to create sounds. "Fame" is better than both the studio and DVD versions. This is a song where I thought the studio version would have benefited from having a drummer. "Fiaba" is such a strong composition that it could sound good using nothing but vocals and an accordion. This version is good but not any better than prevoius versions.

"Malamore e la Luna" is similar to earlier versions. The drums here don't add a whole lot, mainly just keep time. At the end the drumming gets more improvised. "Apnea" is another song I thought would have benefited from having a drummer. Even the studio version struck me as being very 'rock' oriented. Even the looser, improvised sections sound good with the drums included. At the end it gets more improvised and avant-garde in a way different to prevoius versions. "Claustrofilia" has an unrecognizable beginning; not until Claudio starts singing do I recognize the track at all. Love the pounding drums here. A great live recording with good sound and excellent performances. As I mentioned earlier, a great starting place for Nichelodeon. I give this 4 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#772363)
Posted Saturday, June 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars This 30 minutes live release contains five songs released on the Nichelodeon's debut album.

The mind behind this project is the vocalist Claudio Milano who has a huge vocal extension and is proceeding on the path started years before by Demetrio Stratos with vocal experiments and researches. Respect to his solo works and to other Milano's side projects, Nichelodeon have more contacts with the classic RPI even though on the RIO/Avant side. In particular on the chaotic final of "Apnea" I think to hear echoes of AREA.

But let's go in order:

"Fame" (Hunger) shows both classical and jazz influences. Claudio Milano starts singing on bass pitches. The melody has a Crimsonian flavor and the lyrics are quite raw and hard as one can expect from a so dramatic piece of music. The first sentence says "Fucking the mind to break the chains of pain..." then on the chorus, if it can be called in this way he says "I'm hungry of stones, I'm hungry of fire". The music is obsessive and the sax enhances the jazzy mood. There's also room for some vocal experiments before, at minute 4, a brief moment of tango is followed by a part driven by piano with a classical flavor. The last chord is unexpectedly a major one and it sounds discordant with the rest of the song. A very good song. Imagine Stratos singing in King Crimson.

"Fiaba" (Fairytale) Starts very dreamy with the clarinet and some water noises. The quality of the live recording is remarkable. The guitar seems a little untuned but I think it's intentional. It adds a touch of weirdness to a melody that could have appeared too usual (I don't mean trivial). Listen to how a free jazz ensemble slightly replaces the standard rock instrumentation without changing the melody or the tempo before turning to rock again. After this rocking part there's a stop and a section made of piano, electronics and vocals leads to a noisy paroxysmal crescendo followed by a sudden pause on which the main theme returns. At the end of this part Claudio Milano shoots a very long bass note which introduces the instrumental coda enriched by Claudio's vocals for a final of the song closer to the Milano's solo works.

"Malamore E La Luna" as song is my preferred in this album, with its initial tango which later turns into a very melodic song suitably arranged. Who knows the Italian songwriters of the 60s like Tenco and De Andre, would probably find affinities. I can add that also the lyrics contain a good touch of poetry. It's a song that can be listened to several times in a shot (as I have done before writing this review).

The already mentioned "Apnea" is more rock-oriented even without losing the Avantgarde feeling. It's a march that bass and drums transform into a swing before plunking into a jazz improvisation, at the end of which the main theme is back, not without an essay of very high pitches from Claudio Milano's throat. I haven't seen the show, but I'm sure that this song and the previous one work very well on stage. A little technicality. Singing the sentence "Imparare ad amare" before the second improvised section, Claudio Milano sings the last syllable on a very long note, and at the end, when a normal human being would take a breath, he goes a semitone higher....tha's effectively an "apnea".

"Claustrofilia" is the opposite of Claustrophobia. A piano solo with some electronic winds behind starts a long intro sometimes melodic and classically inspired, sometimes more jazzy in an alternance that seems to be willing to disorient the listener. The lyrics are a succession of images and situations which are full of alienation. The alienating effect is enhanced by the low pitches used by Milano. It's a very good song which creates a dark atmosphere with a wise and appropriate use of the arrangements. The paroxysmal acceleration on the final is an excellent closure for the album.

As I have already written the production is very clean and respectful of the live environment. The package is completed by some photos and I've seen that the band has a naked dancer on stage like the Hawkwind were used.

An excellent album, short but full of things, less challenging than other outputs from Claudio Milano like "Kasjanoova" and "Radiata 5et" (not on PA but suggested to whoever loves jazzy improvisations) but not less interesting.

4 deserved stars

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#781921)
Posted Wednesday, July 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is NICHELODEON's most recent release, a live 28 minute EP. All these tracks can be found on their only studio album to date released in 2010. It's weird but I much prefer that studio album to either of their live EPs. Maybe things just get translated better to me by this band in the studio, I don't know.

"Fame" has a nice heavy sound with vocals. A calm before 3 minutes with percussion and sax then the vocals return with piano and more to end it. "Fiaba" is a top two song for me. This is mellow with reserved vocals until it turns fuller before 3 minutes. This sounds great ! It's intense and dissonant after 4 1/2 minutes. More intensity with atmosphere 6 minutes in. Killer tune. "Malamore E La Luna" has theatrical vocals and piano standing out early. It turns mellow a minute in as contrasts continue.

"Apnea" is fairly heavy with vocals. Dissonance follows until before 2 1/2 minutes when it kicks back in with vocals. A calm 4 minutes in with vocals. "Claustrofilia" is my other top two. It's laid back with piano then the vocals arrive before 2 minutes with horns as it stays laid back. It kicks in before 4 1/2 minutes. Great sound !

A good album no doubt but i'll stick with the studio record.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#816188)
Posted Friday, September 07, 2012 | Review Permalink

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