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3 stars Baroque strings set the tone for this album in a classic Italian prog rock feeling. Keyboard-based style with plenty of guitars, horns and violin. There are really bright moments here, lovely melodies, paces and intricate changes in these. The symphonic parts with folky and classical incorporations are the most enjoyable, and there are also beautiful piano to be found occassionally. The guitar is on the other hand quite eclectic at times in sections not as interesting for me. In prog measures, most songs are short. With the musical skill and the range of instruments obviously possessed and mastered, I think the band could compose elongate epic masterpiece tracks if such ambitions would appear to them. But the songs rather orientate into rock tunes in a more standard appearance. Because of this, most tracks becomes increasingly tedious upon repeated listening instead of growing with time. Don't get me totally here though, there are a lot of these genious moments on the record, but no song that I absolutely admire from start to end. 'Un ciclone su Pacifico' is my honourable mention apart from the piano- and bass-driven instrumental title track that really tickles progressive nerve cells. Medieval tunes at boths ends of an otherwise really eclectic 'La luna e la Lepre' are also among the most exciting parts. I'm left with the sense that it could have been so much more, in many senses, but this is nevertheless recommendable high quality prog rock.
Report this review (#1709980)
Posted Tuesday, April 11, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4,5 stars really ! MAXOPHONE "La Fabbrica Delle Nuvole" - A great surprise... I make an effort to remind similar case ; A new band release with very good quality after all these years... still more admirable is the fact that in this album only two original members : Alberto Ravasini and Sergio Lattuada . Although, at this time the same influences that I point in my review of their first album ((#282950) Friday, May 21, 2010 ) PFM , Campo di Marte and Gentle Giant... now the sound is much more close of GG. Is enough listen the title track "La Fabbrica Delle Nuvole" introduction and main theme, the "Interlude" (starting at 2:02 until 2: 52 min ) in same track ! The only "weak" moment as in track 3 "Il Passo delle Ore" ... but this moment aren't enough to make a great "damage" of audition. The album is full of interesting musical passages as for instance , the medieval atmosphere in track 5 "La Luna e la Lepre"... between others. My rate is 4 stars !!!
Report this review (#1767651)
Posted Monday, July 31, 2017 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars There used to be something of a running joke that Italy was home to a ton of doomed vintage prog bands that delivered one single album in their prime active years and then promptly vanished, leaving it their sole legacy. That rule has been somewhat shattered over the last few years as a ton of Italian groups have reunited and delivered long-belated follow-ups - yes, the likes of Museo Rosenbach, Murple, even Cherry Five and countless others - and now it's Maxophone's turn! Although `La Fabbrica delle Nuvole' doesn't often sound like their much-loved self-titled 1975 debut and only singer Alberto Ravasini and keyboardist Sergio Lattuada remain from the original line-up (although utilising the same talented new musicians that performed on their 2014 `Live in Tokyo' release), it's a varied and lavish assortment of rock pieces grafted to fancy classical-flavoured symphonic pomp that remains melodic and approachable without being overly simple.

Unpredictable and cool rocker `Un Ciclone sul Pacifico' opens the LP around teases of orchestration and cool slinking grooves from electric piano, with heavier punchy bursts kicking in and out around slick backing harmonies, and Alberto Ravasini's voice has remained in fine raspy and charismatic form (with all the vocals performed in Italian, no two versions including English offered this time around, thank you very much!). `Perdo il Colore Blu' is book-ended with twisting/turning up-tempo sprints, and there's a light jazziness to the Hammond organ and cheerful swagger of the piece with brief rollicking PFM-like trilling synth runs, and `Il Passo delle Ore', one of the loveliest tunes of the album, is a gentler romantic moment with a catchy clever chorus, soft violin and crisp electric guitar themes.

The title track `La Fabbrica delle Nuvole' is the first big `wow' moment of the disc, a fully-instrumental crossover of whimsical keyboard prettiness, light jazz-fusion guitar grooves and colourful symphonic themes (Marco Croci's slinking thick bass is a real highlight here too) all in under six minutes, and in parts it doesn't sound unlike Italian discs of the last few years like Progenesi's `Ulisse l'Alfiere Nero', Moogg's `Italian Luxury Style' or the last F.E.M album `Sulla Bolla di Sapone'. Folk aromas permeate intricate rocker `La Luna e la Lepre' with a dancing Baroque fanciness of madrigal-flavoured Gryphon and Gentle Giant-like sophistication and whimsy, plenty of ravishing acoustic guitars and intricate multi-part group harmonies, and dreamy synths, silken acoustic guitars and ruminative sax throughout the tasteful and classy `Estate '41' could almost have hailed from a Steve Hackett solo disc.

`Nel Fiume dei Giorni i Tuoi Capelli' is busily schizophrenic for a track that doesn't even run four minutes, bouncing through everything from dream-like careful soft rock with elegant violin and sparkling electric piano tiptoes to delicate folk and frantic contorting guitar races, ultimately sounding closer to something like the modern version of Swedish symphonic proggers Kaipa. Those baroque and chamber prog flavours pop up again throughout `Il Matto e l'Aquilone' thanks to warm folk-flecked acoustic guitars and prancing violin whilst alternating back and forth with snappy jazz-fusion turns and infectious keyboard-driven symphonic prog sprints, and `Le Parole Che non vi Ho Detto' is a short and giddy violin/piano closer.

While it can't possibly live up to the status that the popular 1975 debut enjoys, `La Fabbrica delle Nuvole's strength lies in the fact that it's a real grower that impresses more and more with every listen. It's an eclectic, colourful and tastefully performed comeback with plenty to recommend about it, and another example that no country delivers better and more rewarding modern prog albums from older acts than Italy. Lovers of Maxophone and Italian prog fans in general should end up having a terrific time with this unexpectedly vital, highly surprising and greatly inspired work.

Four stars.

Report this review (#1785242)
Posted Thursday, September 21, 2017 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. A pretty good comeback album from this Italian band who haven't released a studio recording in over 40 years. When compared to the debut this one lacks the variety of horns and flute that the seventies release featured. We do get the same vocalist and he certainly is one of the main reasons I've given this 3.5 stars, I love his voice and it has some character to it. And yes he sings in Italian. The album is all over the place with quite a bit of variety including both modern and commercial sounding music. I really like the romantic RPI vibe but the heaviness with the GARDEN WALL-like guitars not so much. Same with the poppier stuff on here, I'm just not a fan.

"Un Ciclone Sul Pacifico" opens with a violin melody before it kicks into a real good groove. Man I like this part. Piano joins in then vocals. A catchy chorus follows then a guitar solo. Violin only like the intro after 2 minutes then it builds with keys and more. The vocals sound different after 3 minutes and we get a heavier sound.

"Perdo Il Colore Blu" starts with the drums and guitar standing out as keys and bass join in. A good driving sound here before it settles back with vocals. Contrasts continue. Piano only before 1 1/2 minutes as processed vocals join in. Not a fan of this. The heaviness comes and goes. A prolonged instrumental follows including some excellent guitar.

"Il Passo Delle Ore" is my favourite because it has such a classic RPI flavour to it. Great sounding vocals here and one of the rare times I feel emotion from the music, especially on the chorus.

"La Fabbrica Delle Nuvole" sounds so interesting with the percussion and sounds that come and go before some organ arrives. It turns heavy with GARDEN WALL-like guitars which I'm not into. The drumming is killer then after 2 minutes it changes and soon it's piano only before drums and more join in. An instrumental GENTLE GIANT vibe before 2 1/2 minutes. Synths lead later on trading off with the guitar. The bass and drums shine on this one.

"La Luna E La Lepre" is the other song I really like. Intricate guitar and percussion early on. Vocals just before a minute with strummed guitar. Love his singing here. Bass and organ join in as well. Nice guitar solo then back to that earlier sound. Great sound after 3 1/2 minutes as the vocals return. A feel good vibe with that guitar after 4 minutes.

"Estate '41" sounds different to begin with then these emotional vocals arrive before 1 1/2 minutes. Lots of intricate sounds. I like the atmosphere late to end it with violin.

"Nel Fiume Del Giorni I Tuo Capelli" sounds really good until the tempo picks up and this modern feel arrives. Suddenly before 2 minutes we get a GENTLE GIANT section both vocally and instrumentally. You should hear this! GENTLE GIANT all the way, a nice tribute then the guitars turn heavy which seems out of place. Back to the GG vibe as contrasts continue. Piano and violin ends it.

"Il Matto E L'Aquilone" opens with picked guitar then violin before a minute along with bass as relaxed vocals join in. Thankfully it changes after 2 1/2 minutes to a more uptempo and heavier sound that I actually like. Organ, drums and guitar stand out here. A calm after 4 minutes then it kicks in again. "Le Parole Che Non Vi Ho Detto" ends it and it's a short 2 1/2 minute track. Vocals, violin and more in this mellow closer.

Lots to like here but there's lots of sections that I don't like as well. A mixed bag you could say but I'm glad I got to spend some time with it. I'll stick with their classic seventies album in the future though.

Report this review (#1816888)
Posted Friday, October 27, 2017 | Review Permalink

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