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Sezione Frenante - Metafora Di Un Viaggio CD (album) cover


Sezione Frenante

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Italian prog is scattered with occasional bands that were active during the Seventies heyday of the sub-genre yet never got around to committing their music to a proper album. Formed in Venice, Sezione Frenante are the latest to join that group, performing live during that defining decade alongside notable Italian progressive groups such as Le Orme, Perigeo, Biglietto per L'Inferno and others, yet breaking up after a few years before making any official recordings. With several members reforming in 2006 with the help of a couple of new musicians, the band finally deliver their debut album some forty years later, `Metafora di un Viaggio', a vinyl-length mix of reworked older compositions and brand new material, and it's sure to please lovers of the classic Italian prog sound.

Despite many tasteful and lengthy instrumental passages, several of the pieces here are dominated by younger member Franco Nardo's powerful vocals. Singing in his native language, he displays great control and is less flamboyant than many of the usual theatrical-styled Italian singers, but he has a hearty and impressive voice all the same. Some may find him mixed a little too upfront here, but this disc joins the fine tradition of vintage Italian works with boisterous lead singers like those on the Alphataurus, Jumbo and Rustichelli & Bordini albums. Sadly, Franco has now been replaced in the band by the original singer Luciano Degli Alimari, so this album will serve as a fitting brief tribute to the charismatic vocalist Franco and his emotional, spirited performance.

Opener `Quattro Stelle' is one of a few longer, more ambitious pieces. It initially starts with reflective electric piano tip-toes behind a tolling bell, Steve Hackett-like guitar strains and droning church organ that reminds of gloomy Italian band Abiogenesi, but it jumps up in tempo with some whirring Moog and a frequently reprised accordion theme that will make you smile! Tasty instrumental `Attesa' has a mid-tempo galloping P.F.M-like guitar melody backed up by nimble- fingered thick murmuring bass and the warmest of humming Hammond organ. `La Quiete in un Attimo' bristles with punchy Genesis-like regal electric guitar and organ fanfares before shifting into delicate classical piano and wounded soulful crooning, and chiming guitars and shimmering organ bring a touch of uneasy atmosphere behind Franco's wail for `Viscido Ambiente'.

Le Orme fans will adore the constantly soaring organs of the two part `La Meta non Trovata' (but with a bit of surprising heavy guitar funky groove thrown in too!), and it sure seems like Franco is channelling Aldo Tagliapietra vocally here as well! After interlude `Passaggio' interrupts with upfront pumping bass and wild organ stabs, the second part reprises the main theme with some victorious Moog and heroic piano lifting high into the heavens. With a constant dramatic build growing in stature throughout the almost ten minute epic `Svegliati Luce', the band manage to include everything from phasing electronics, a touch of gothic piano mystery, whirring Le Orme- flavoured Moog, booming military drumming and beautiful thoughtful bass ruminations, and the lead guitar strains in the finale bring to mind Frank Bornemann's playing on the early Eloy albums. `Pace Immaginata' is a catchier, more accessible bass-driven tune with a foot-tapping beat and delicate Mellotron choir harmonies, plus a nice scratchy guitar solo in the middle. Finally, there's plenty of acoustic guitar warmth, sweeping and prancing P.F.M/Genesis pomp and glorious Hammond organ throughout the eight minute closer `Nota Stonata', and a soaring vocal makes it quite a romantic piece to end the album on.

There is one secret weapon that sets Sezione Frenante's album apart from so many other more extravagant and lavish recent Italian works. The whole disc has a stripped back, more direct, possibly rougher sound quality that actually succeeds in making the music sound like a genuine lost Seventies vintage Italian prog relic from the golden era! Plenty of newer bands adequately convey similar sounds to the classic Seventies works, but none quite capture that true quality as effectively and convincingly as Sezione Frenante do here.

`Metafora di un Viaggio' gets Sezione Frenante's belated studio recording career off to a great start, and the results have been more than worth the wait. A mix of pleasing melodic tunes and subtle, restrained but quietly thrilling instrumental moments, with a very joyful quality constantly present really makes this album shine brightly. Hopefully we see the band build on their efforts here with more recordings in the near future!

Four stars.

Report this review (#1391622)
Posted Wednesday, April 1, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hailing from the province of Venice, Sezione Frenante began life in the early seventies under the name Le Nuove Dimensioni, later changed into the current name. During the seventies they hadn't the chance to record an album and split up in 1978, when the interest for progressive rock was fading. In 2006 the band reformed on the initiative of three founder members and in 2014 Sezione Frenante finally released a debut album on the independent label Ma.Ra.Cash Records with a line up featuring Alessandro Casagrande (drums, percussion), Sandro Bellemo (bass), Doriano Mestriner (gutars, vocals), Mirco De Marchi (keyboards, vocals) and Francesco Nardo (lead vocals) plus the guest Antonio Zullo (acoustic guitar). This long awaited album is entitled Metafora di un viaggio - Arditi voli di cervelli attenti and is a conceptual work, vaguely inspired by Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, that describes in music and words a cathartic journey from darkness to light, from despair to hope... The overall sound draws on vintage atmospheres and could recall bands such as Le Orme, Metamorfosi, Procession or Alphataurus but the musicians managed to put into the mix all their passion, their experience and their personality with excellent results and the album is really worth listening to.

The opener "La quiete in un attimo" (Peace in a while) starts by pulsing bass lines and dreamy passages that seem to mark the transition into an hypnotic state of unconsciousness. The music and lyrics evoke a moment of quiet where you can think and get lost into your dreams. Now you're almost floating on the current of your thoughts, between life and death... The dark organ surge of the following "La meta non trovata" (The unfounded destination) announces a dangerous journey through a realm of shadows where you're surrounded by shapeless things and faded visions. Eventually, your aimless wandering takes you in front of a high white door that blocks your way... Then a surreal calm comes down and "La meta non trovata (curiosit' di essere)" (The unfounded destination - Curiosity of being) describes curiosity and fear seizing your throat. Your brain doesn't work, you can't think anymore...

Next comes "Attesa" (Waiting), a short instrumental that describes the time you pass in doubt, waiting in front of the white door while the following "Passaggio" (Passage) is another short instrumental describing the moment of the crossing of that strange threshold. It leads to "Viscido ambiente" (Slimy place) that describes a gloomy world inhabited by icy shadows without brain, a world where there's no peace. You can feel a sense of void spreading all around you and even inside your heart, there's nothing but hate here, you have to feed on it... The following "Pace immaginata" (Fancied peace) describes the crossing of this bleak world with its threatening panoramas. Every now and again some flames break through the darkness and shapeless beings disappear into the void, swallowed by black waves. You can perceive unknown shadows sucking your blood like parasites, driving you insane... At last you see a corridor and something pushes you in the right direction, towards the light at the end of the tunnel, towards a shelter...

At the sound of a bell, "Quattro stelle" (Four stars) welcomes you to a very different world of ethereal lights and sapphire skies. The four stars of the title refer to the four cardinal virtues that now show your way: prudence, justice, temperance and courage. Then a church-like organ passage drives you on the footsteps of a Love song while delicate melodies blow away the shadows of hell and their gloomy omens. A new hope is beating in your chest, you can see around you sinners who repent and start climbing a steep hill leading to a better dream...

Next comes "Nota stonata" (Discordant note) that describes in music and words a kind of Garden of Eden where you can find a perfect harmony. But someone is singing out of tune in the angelic choir, there's a soul down below that, pushed by human virtue, seeks for something that is not perfect at all. This soul is looking for the unknown, for great passions inspired by pagan muses, for never ending adventures and strong emotions...

The long, complex closer "Svegiati luce" (Wake up light) conjures up apocalyptic visions of exiled souls that have been waiting for a thousand years on the banks of the river Lethe. They're still waiting for boarding on the divine wooden ship that would take them across the river. It's a long, silent queue of uncertain spirits looking for a guide to lead them to a place where peace rules, a kingdom of light that will melt the shadows and dry the tears, where the sun rises like a blade of fire spreading its thaumaturgical strength all over creation...

On the whole, this is a very interesting album. Of course, seventies influences loom large over this work and it might not shine for originality but its mystical lyricism and its powerful and engaging musical colours make of it a real treat for Italianprog lovers. So, if you like modern progressive rock that's based on classic Italian prog, you really have to check this band out.

Report this review (#1433577)
Posted Thursday, July 2, 2015 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars My good friend Jean Roby (not to be confused with John 'the Cat' Robie of Alfred Hitchcock fame, the suave cat burglar in the legendary film 'To Catch a Thief') and I have been exchanging progressive rock discussions for a couple of years now and he suggested I strive to hunt this sucker down, as it was his opinion that I would go gaga over this Italian band from Venice whose name would be translated as The Braking Section. He was dead right as this debut album owns all of the hallmarks of a classic RPI release but fondly wrapped in a modern lustre. Hints of Le Orme, PFM and Banco are front and center, festooned by some terrific modern production techniques and a pristine recording. The seasoned musicians are simply first rate, especially the bass player Sandro Bellemo who just knocks it out the park throughout the set list. The rest of the squadra are no slouches either, as Dario Mestriner plays a mean guitar with a wide variety of tones to satisfy the axe technician, keyboardist Mirco de Marchi favors rolling organ, delicate piano and subtle synthesizer moves , while drummer Alessandro Casagrande pounds like the best of them. The biggest surprise is lead lung Francesco Nardo, who owns a deluxe and expressive set of pipes that verges on the outstanding and thus providing a highly enjoyable upfront presence that does wonders to the stylish arrangements.

There are plentiful moments where the mood is perhaps closer to a lighter version of Deep Purple or even Uriah Heep what with the slick interplay between Mastriner and de Marchi as well as the rock-solid partnership on bass and drums. I was immediately impressed from the very first notes, stunned into submission by the crisp edges and overt melodies that litter this album. Fresh and powerful, the production is deliriously attractive, the melodies are simple yet divine, as I have caught myself many times humming certain passages.

When first hearing the opener 'La Quiete In Un Attimo', I was quite surprised by the sizzling touches from axeman Dario Mastriner, purveyor of stinging leads and shrieking riffs that ultimately lead to the delicate piano and the suave voice of Francesco Nardo in loving embrace.

Then comes the 2 part 'La Meta non Trovata' which offers a binary beat, dancing organs and a shuffling funky guitar swath that once again switches to a piano and voice duet, organ in the background. The guitar then scours gently like some stringed lullaby. The second part is typical RPI in all its simplicity and delicate nature. The electric guitar takes over the main melody and forges ahead with bold determination.

With 'Attesa', I was tempted to believe that I was listening to a new version of the Cars 'Let the Good Times Roll' as the first few seconds are nearly identical, before veering into outright RPI mode, with striking guitar scratches and organ rumbles. I wonder if Braking Section and Cars have anything in common? Nah'just my overtly abundant imagination. Anyway, the track then evolves into this galloping march, the raunchy bass leading the way for the thumping binary drums a la Lee Kerslake. Short, sweet and fun with a cool organ flurry to exit. 'Passagio' is a minute of oddness, the guitar and keys in a tandem tornado that kicks up a mini-storm. Only to prepare for 'Viscido Ambiente', another brief but powerful piece that has all the fine little musical touches that ultimately showcase the dazzling voice of Francesco Nardo, a clean and startling belt that has all the emotions one can ask for.

'Pace Immaginata' is perhaps the finest RPI song in a decade, a stupendous slice of perfection led by a monster bass groove that just keeps pounding furiously at your brain. Everything about this piece is sumptuous, incredible vocalizations, deadly guitar stokes, subtle keyboard interventions and tremendous drum support. The initial melody is subtly carved out on triangle hand percussion, then a takeover the lead bass jumps in to propel this masterful piece forward with drums, bass and choir in hot pursuit. A buzzing, fuzzy lead guitar really kills it. Tremendous tune.

Bass, tubular bells and e-piano infect 'Quattro Stelle', another monumental song that provides intense resolution from Nardo's booming voice, keys and guitar in unison in a decidedly Mediterranean feel (that accordion-like patch). The bass undertow is sublime, this man Bellamo knows how to play his instrument, up-front and center.

The album finishes off with 2 longer pieces, the 8 minute + epic 'Nota Stonata' forging ahead nicely, riding the bass player's crest, with the De Marchi organ loyally following behind and expert aid from drummer Casagrande. The lead singer does perhaps his finest work on this tricky vocal arrangement, both demanding and complex, a real quality delivery of an ultra-expressive melody that is not an easy chore. The honking Hammond is also in the spotlight, keeping things very 70s a la Toni Pagliuca of Le Orme legend, later tossing in some fine synthesizer layers to add to the texture.

Another superb piece is the 9 minute 'Svegliati Luce', a more tortuous composition once again dominated by a marvelous bass run, slithering synthesizers, and powerful drum support. The Hammond does it smoking thing quite convincingly, playful and burning. Guest Antonio Zullo does wonders on acoustic guitar, the choir mellotron heightening the voice to even loftier pinnacles and then one more go-around, lead guitar soloing from Mastriner that shudders and soars, while Bellamo threatens below. Bombastic symphonic prog Italian style. Si, per favore, ancora!

This is an obviously mature crew of seasoned musicians who have waited a long time to put their craft into a recording and in my opinion, they succeed brilliantly in combining the glory years with a modern, fresh and direct approach, with crystalline sound and intense presentation. This is one hell of a debut album, for sure and I thank 'the Cat' for not putting the brakes to this disc-overy !

4.5 Excursion allegories

Report this review (#1556396)
Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2016 | Review Permalink

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