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The Rebus / Il Fauno Di Marmo - Il Fauno Di Marmo: Canti, Racconti E Battaglie CD (album) cover


The Rebus / Il Fauno Di Marmo

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Formed around the early 90's in Gorizia and moving through a succession of name and line-up changes, 2013 finally saw the newly christened Il Fauno di Marmo (The Marble Faun) release their `debut' album "Canti, Racconti e Battaglie" ("Songs, Stories and Battles"), and the band creates music that is as evocative and striking as their name. The group in their previous incarnations (as The Rebus, Mirror Train and Il Treno degli Specchi) have always delivered strong works, but this one sees them step up in a grand way, revealing a depth and maturity that they rarely hinted at before, and it makes for one of the most lavish and sophisticated recent Italian prog releases.

Lead track `Benvenuti Al Circo' is punchy and boisterous to begin and end, with Luca and Federica Sterle's male/female vocals interweaving with an operatic gothic flavour (perhaps even bringing a slight Zeuhl sound to my ears?). Violin, piano and soaring electric guitars run through nimble direction changes, while lovely floating Mellotron veils wisp around the listener in the emotional middle. The mood is instantly picked up for `Madre Natura', the first of a couple of tracks to carry over from the previous version of the band. With jazzy infectious piano and Luca's trilling flute, it's a joyous acoustic bopper that wouldn't have sounded out of place on the first Delirium album `Dolce Acqua'. `Hop Frog' dates back from an early 90's line-up of the band, appearing in reworked form here. Through it's 11 minutes, there's plenty of keyboard variety from Francesco Bonavita - thick Van der Graaf Generator-like dark organs, ghostly synths and rippling Hammond - Luca Carboni's marching drums, strolling bass, aggressive Biglietto per L'Inferno-type huffing flute, with plenty of quirky P.F.M-styled playful interludes around intricate Gentle Giant-type group vocal arrangements.

`Magic Kazoo' is a lighter playful psychedelic popper with spiky lead guitar from Valerio Colella and loopy synths. Upbeat instrumental `Nova Res' is full of Alberto Ballare's slapping bass, funky wah- wah guitar grinding and jazz-fusion fire, with plenty of rippling Santana-styled Hammond organ as well. The brisk flute brings a cheerful Canterbury Scene touch to the piece, as does the lifting orchestration. `Non Mollare Mari' is a punchy retro blast that recalls the first Rebus album with it's positivity and catchy melody. `La Battaglia di Kosovo Polje' is a flighty little folk rocker with frenetic flute and electric guitar dueling outbursts, `Un Villagio, Un'illusione' an atmospheric cover of the violin-fuelled track from the classic debut by Quella Vecchia Locanda (one of my personal favourite vintage RPI albums), thankfully it works fine due to a muscular lead vocal from Luca, although it sticks pretty close to the original. `Dorian Gray' (I was expecting another cover version, a track from the pre-Goblin `Cherry Five' band!), closes the album with a heavy mix of ghostly narration, snarling harder guitars, crooning vocals and a spiraling gothic tension.

I would advise the band to not bother with cover versions from this point on, as not only do fans of the originals not want to hear remakes of their beloved favourites, but over the course of the previous bands that became Il Fauno di Marmo, Luca and his musical partners have been creating perfectly strong music all their own. Best to let their own strong compositions get the focus instead of attention-getting covers.

Years of the band members honing their skills and perfecting their song-craft have paid off superbly, and this is rich, complex and grand Italian progressive rock. It truly feels like the band have been building up to this one, where all their potential throughout their previous incarnations has finally come together and delivered beautifully. It reveals a subtlety and an attention to detail that the previous versions of the group rarely hinted at, and it makes for one of the most lavish recent Italian prog releases. 2013 was a banner year for the RPI sound, and "Canti, Racconti e Battaglie" is another one of the best from that year.

Four and a half stars.

Report this review (#1194847)
Posted Monday, June 16, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Il Fauno di Marmo come from the province of Gorizia and began life in 2001 under the name of The Rebus. Since then the band have been very active in the local live scene, releasing two self-produced albums, The Rebus (2002) and Acroterius (2005). In 2012 they signed a deal with the independent label from Verona Andromeda Relix and changed their name into Il Fauno di Marmo, taking the place of another project of the same name bound to Andromeda Relix and formed by Erik Spedicato (drums), Roberto Vanni (guitar), Massimo Cavallari (keyboards) and Roberto Galli (bass) who split up after recording only one track, a Haikara's cover released in 2009 on a tribute album to Finnish Progressive Rock by Musea Records, Tuonen Tytar II. Well, the owner of the label, Gianni Della Cioppa, liked the name (inspired by an Italian TV miniseries from the seventies based upon the novel The Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne) and, with the consent of all the people involved, gave it as a legacy to the band he had just enrolled that heartily accepted the new brand.

Finally, in 2013 this new version of Il Fauno di Marmo (formerly known as The Rebus) released their first official album titled Canti, racconti e battaglie (Song, tales and battles) with a line up featuring Luca Sterle (vocals, flute), Valerio Colella (guitars, kazoo, backing vocals), Alberto Ballar' (bass, backing vocals), Francesco Bonavita (organ, piano, Moog, Mellotron, clavinet, bandoneon) and Luca Carboni (drums). During the recording sessions they were helped by some guests such as Simone D'Eusanio (violin), Alessandro Serravalle (guitar ' from Garden Wall), Federica Sterle (vocals) and Andrea Tomasin (percussion) that contributed to enrich the sound and the result in my opinion is really good. The packaging features a nice artwork by Francesca Capone that in some way tries to capture the spirit of this work and represents a magical flower with a long stem and very deep roots. In fact, this album is the fruit of many years of hard work and musical passion and you can feel that passion from start to finish. Of course, the band's sources of inspiration are apparent and range from Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull to the old masters of the Italian progressive rock scene of the seventies but the song-writing is good and the band reveal a great personality.

The opener 'Benvenuti al circo' (Welcome to the circus) comes from the repertoire of Il Treno degli Specchi, Luca and Federica Sterle's previous band that was active in the nineties but never had the chance to record an album. The music perfectly fits the lyrics and features many changes in rhythm and mood. It's about circus animals abuse... 'You go to the circus and you're so happy / In your mind you have nothing but entertainment / But there's someone who's trembling in fear / Beaten, bloody and in pain... Welcome to the circus of horrors!...'. Well, animals aren't actors or circus clowns. Yet this piece depicts a circus where the animals are forced to perform silly, confusing tricks under the threat of physical punishment and tremble at the sound of a whip. While going to the circus may be a favourite pastime for many adults and children, the harsh treatment of animals here is condemned without mercy.. 'How many many people can understand that an animal can feel pain?... There's so much sadness in their heart / Man is just a vile traitor...'.

The following 'Madre natura' (Mother Nature) is a joyful track that recalls Jethro Tull and depicts a timeless ritual dance in honour of Mother Nature. There are children playing and people dancing in a ring, hand in hand, while the music conjures up a strong sense of positivity. Sun rays break through the sky while incense smells soar and spread all around... 'Mother Nature, listen to us if you can / Look at your children, they know what is hope...'. You can find a first version of this piece on The Rebus' eponymous album from 2002.

The long, complex epic 'Hop Frog' is another track composed by Luca Sterle in the nineties that here comes to a new life thanks to the contribute of all the musicians involved. It was inspired by Hop-Frog, a tale by Edgar Allan Poe set in the court of an imaginary country. It tells about the vendetta of the king's fool, a deform dwarf called Hop Frog, who, during a masked ball, with his last jester's trick sets fire to the king and his ministers dressed up in ourang-outangs costumes... 'Burn, burn vile king / Burn, burn into the fire / Burn, burn vile king / In Hop Frog's stake...'. 'I now see distinctly.' he said, 'what manner of people these maskers are. They are a great king and his seven privy-councillors, - a king who does not scruple to strike a defenceless girl and his seven councillors who abet him in the outrage. As from myself, I am simply Hop-Frog, the jester ' And this is my last jest.

'Magic Kazoo' is a psychedelic track featuring an exotic flavour. It invites you to take a trip on a very strang spaceship and set off on an interstellar musical journey, through dazzling star lights and asteroids dancing in a ring, towards a new reality... 'Maybe it's just an imagine / A voice will call me back / Maybe it's nothing but an imagine / A voice will speak to me...'.

Next comes 'Nova Res', a beautiful instrumental piece that blends psychedelia, sweet melodic lines and Latin rock. It leads to 'Non mollare mai' (Never give up), a bright track full of positive energy that invites you to fight for what is really important in your life, searching for a way out from the darkness of a personal crises by leaving behind false solutions such as booze or drugs.

'La battaglia di Kosovo-Polje' (The battle of Kosovo-Polje) is a new version of a piece from The Rebus' previous album, Acroterius. It features strong ethnic influences and a martial atmosphere. It tells about the battle fought in 1389 between the Serbian army led by prince Lazar Hrebeljanovic and the invading troops of the Ottoman Empire. This battle is also known as the Battle of Blackbird's Field and is particularly important to Serbian history, tradition, and national identity... 'Prince Lazar, what a silence! / Kosovo Polje cries for your people / The blackbirds are flying over the corpses / Dying men for the Motherland / Now the invaders have won / And the crescent moon is high in the sky...'.

'Un villaggio, un'illusione' (A village, an illusion) is a nice Quella Vecchia Locanda's cover that the band interpret here with passion. It leads to conclusive epic 'Dorian Gray', inspired by Oscar Wilde's novel of The Picture of Dorian Gray. The music and lyrics depict a troubled man who has sold his soul in exchange of eternal beauty. But Death and remorse haunt him... 'If you look at your portrait / You are upset, Dorian Gray / It's like a spell that blurs reality / A damned soul is growing inside you / You innocence is lost / What way will you choose? / Diabulus ita est / Demoni vocant te / That's Death behind you...'. A wonderful finale for a very interesting album!

Report this review (#1195060)
Posted Tuesday, June 17, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Il Fauno Di Marmo an italian heavy prog band founded in 2001, initialy they were named The Rebus but chanced in Il Fauno di Marmo in 2012. The Rebus released 2 little known albums Homonymous in 2002 and Acroterius in 2005, both good but gone under the radar in prog circles.

In 2012 they changed their name into Il Fauno Di Marmo after making a deal with the Italian label Andromeda Relix. Currently the line-up consists of Francesco Bonavita (keyboards), Alberto Ballare (bass), Luca Sterle (vocals, flute), Luca Carboni (drums) and Valerio Collella (guitars).

Il Fauno di Marmo released so far a single album in 2013 named canti, raconti e battaglei. Well, I like lot this one, this type of heavy prog I can listen every day, mellotron, hammond all over, bands like Delirium, Abiogenesi or A Piedi Nudi are certenly similar, Ossana is another influence. Nice vocals, nice flute, all musicians shine from start to finish

The opening piece Benvenuti Al Circe is a great up-tempo prog rock track lots of a Hammond organ, emotionally sung lyrics by Luca Sterle and second voice Frederique Sterle, and with lots of tempo changes and a nice violin solo. Madre Nature is a short but nice folk rock song in the vein of Jethro Tull. There is also an instrumental Nova Res, who is quite intresting, the longest Hop Frog is killer, 11 min of Biglietto per L'Inferno meets P.F.M. but all done in Il Fauno di Marmo style nice flute and sophisticated hammond.

All in all, more then great release, at least for me, excellent art work aswell, one of the most intristing heavy prog albums I've heared in last years from italian school, still little known in prog circles, even the album was released 5 years ago. 4 stars for sure.

Report this review (#1977508)
Posted Monday, August 13, 2018 | Review Permalink

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