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Hostsonaten - Mirrorgames CD (album) cover

MIRRORGAMES

Hostsonaten

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars I am really impressed at the shear mass or quantity of music that Mr Zuffanti has come up with since the mid 90's in all of his bands and other projects. I cannot stop thinking that if he would actually let his idea mature a little more and condense a little , his music would appeal more to me as this sounds a little watered down or repetitititititive from album to album be it in Finnisterre, Hostsonaten, Marschera etc... Only Lazona sounds quite different to these ears.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#3491)
Posted Friday, February 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
mindrocker200
4 stars This record is vastly underrated !! This is the best Hostsonaten album. I detect immense depth here .... highly original. It has been disparaged for it's "weak" english vocals - as if they would not fit perfectly to create this "seventies underground" feeling. Highly inspired. Very, very cool. Much better than the polished, sweet pseudo-irish sounding "Springsong" themes of their followup ( Which I am disappointed with ). This one has lyrical weirdness and hermetic density.

This is true Progressive Rock of the nineties. Backwards-looking Retro-Prog with a strong Underground touch. Makes even a pretentious mind dream away ;)

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#38708)
Posted Wednesday, July 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
infandous@exc
4 stars Quite a good album. I have not heard Springsongs or Springtide yet, but this if a good deal better than the debut. The opening epic here is fantastic, featuring very dramatic and interesting music with the addition of some lovely female vocals in the first half. Zuffanti is simply not a good singer, and that is really the only thing that hurts this album. A different vocalist is also used on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Part II, making that song another highlight of the album. Personally, I quite like this album. It is certainly not "hard prog", or overly complex. But there are some lovely melodies and interesting instrumental parts throughout. Like the previous album, this one is somewhat dreamy and folky, but contains a good deal more symphonic grandure than the first one. Very good album.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#77054)
Posted Wednesday, May 03, 2006 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Although I have not heard all of the prolific Mr Zuffante's projects, this 2nd Hostsonaten album is my favourite thus far. It is more traditionally symphonic than Finisterre, and not as highbrow as either Finisterre or Aries. It is also quite different from the third Hostsonaten album, Springsong, which is entirely instrumental and more tilted to the folky celtic side of things, an area only fleetingly explored here. Hostsonaten is clearly influenced by Eris Pluvia and their groundbreaking early 90s album at the dawn of the Italian prog revival, but It also harkens back to the golden era of the 70s, while presenting an original, unified musical concept.

First of all, nothing is either weak or boring here, even the longer tracks, "The Dream" and the closer, "Ellipsis". The former starts the CD off with alternating classically inspired instrumental movements, gently melded male/female vocals, recorder backings, lusciously plodding mellotron themes, and memorable melodies both of a vocal and instrumental nature, a cornucopia of delights for symphonic prog fans. I too have heard negative reports of the vocalist but personally think he fits fine with the music. The changes in mood are handled well and do not seem haphazardly inserted for shock value or just to impress the musicians among us.

"Mirrorcloud" is a simply gorgeous heavily mellotron dominated song with a lead guitar theme to die for. It's very mystical sounding and also includes some of the aforementioned recorder and other gentle wind instruments in the break. It is probably my favourite on the disk, along with the folk-influenced and catchy "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" Part 2. "Season of Eve" also has many beautiful moments. In fact as I listen to this album for the first time in a while for review purposes, it strikes me even better than I remembered it. And that in itself is the highest praise.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#120836)
Posted Saturday, May 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Here we go ! Another good album from Fabio Zuffanti & Co. Their first achievement was such a pleasant one that my expectations were quite high before listening to this one.

It opens on another epic song. Half the lenght of "Hostsonaten", it will lead to a brilliant combination of opera, almost classical music, somptuous symphonic parts as well as some KC flavour. Keys, and to a certain extent some flute have a prominent role. Even Fabio on the vocals is quite acceptable (but I had the same feeling for their first opus). This song conveys a lot of peaceful moments; extremely relaxing for most of it (sweet vocals, pastoral acoustic guitar).

Definitely early Genesis (thus KC) origins. But this has always pleased me. Perfect for meditation (and this is not pejorative in this case) and sooooooo beautiful. But I confess that I am a bit biased with Fabio's project. "La Machera" being my preferred one.

If ever you are a mellotron maniac (like I am) you can only fall in love with "Mirror Cloud". The sax / flute / mellotron combination is superb. Same exceptional melodies. Some might argue that it is only a copy of the fantastic ITCOTCK, but I am really thrilled to hear this. is it "retro-prog" (Oh boy ! I just hate this term) ? Maybe. But it does not matter. When played with such maestria & passion, one can only be charmed (at least I am).

Same kind of feeling drives me during "Season Of Eve". This one sounds a bit neo-prog (but still combined with classical elements). The wonderful harmonies remain. At this time of the record, one really feels that this is a special album and that no disappointment awaits the listener. Although "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" is not as great. It is less harmonious, less passionate. But it was hardly possible to go on with perfection. Still very good guitar break is to be noticed (not very frequent within this band). This is just a nice song. Amongst brilliant ones.

"There's A Certain Slant Of Light" is the only short track of this album. Clocking at just over two minutes (while three lasts for oVer eight minutes). Just a link to bring you to the next epic : "Ellipsis" which will take you in their wonderfull world for another seventeen minutes.

Classic fluting to start, and then a bombastic instrumental section in which a solid bass is setting the tone. But there are so many theme changes in this song that it is rather difficult to describe it. I really recommend you to listen to this nice, sweet and gentle song. It is full of subtlety (flute and guitar) and the last seven minutes are a pure joy for the ear. At times harder, it brings some diversity to the whole.

I can cope with some critics saying that this album sounds a bit too much the same. Somehow, they are right. But I really love it and I can only recommend it to you. But their albums are not easy to find. Vocals are all in English (but this is almost intrumental music).

Four stars and a must own if pure symphonic music is your cup of tea.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#136010)
Posted Monday, September 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I do prefer their debut to this one although there's still lots to like here. A lot more lyrics on this one.They continue to look at one of the seasons on each album and with "Mirrorgames" summer is the topic. My favourite season by the way, it's what I dream of in the winter. And when your a kid who doesn't like summer the best. No school,and a lot of fun playing outside. I love summer up here though, with the beach, the scenery, and most of my favourite memories come from the summer.

"The Dream" is a 24 minute ride in the sun. It's mellow to open before we get some surprising heaviness 1 1/2 minutes in.Piano takes over as a nice solid sound comes in around 2 1/2 minutes. Mellotron rolls in 5 minutes in as it calms down to piano only.Vocals after 6 minutes.Tin whistle before 8 minutes as mellotron waves flood the soundscape. Acoustic guitar and reserved vocals 9 1/2 minutes in.Flute joins in. A full sound as the tempo picks up after 10 minutes.Vocals continue but are much stronger. I like this part. It settles again with tin whistle returning 12 minutes in.Contrast continues.Guitar 15 1/2 minutes in is fantastic.Sax before 17 minutes with organ following. Intense section after 18 minutes with tribal-like drumming. More good guitar late. "Mirrorcloud" opens with tasteful guitar and drums. It settles as vocals arrive with some sax.This contrast continues throughout. Nice bass 2 1/2 minutes in.Sax before 4 minutes with flute to follow.Synths after 6 minutes.Guitar that follows is great. Beautiful section. Mellotron 7 1/2 minutes is killer as flute plays. Nice.

"Season Of Eve" opens with piano as tin whistles join in. Amazing sound follows of heavy drums and a mellotron storm.Vocals follow. Some great guitar before 3 minutes. It settles right down as flute and strummed guitar take over. Mellotron 5 minutes in.Vocals after 6 1/2 minutes. "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner Part II" was a nice surprise as they did part I on their debut.The sounds of waves and acoustic guitar open the song. Reserved vocals a minute in.Things get more passionate 2 minutes in. A powerful sound 2 1/2 minutes in. Nice. Sax 4 minutes.Tasteful guitar 6 minutes in followed by a calm as the waves and acoustic guitar from the intro end it. "There's A Certain Slant Of Light" features piano and vocals throughout. "Ellipsis" is the 17 minute closer. Flute followed by some excellent guitar then organ. Reserved vocals 2 minutes in. A fuller sound 3 minutes in with mellotron.Heavy sound with drums and organ after 4 minutes is great, it returns 7 1/2 minutes in. Sax and mellotron after 8 1/2 minutes. Flute follows.The guitar is excellent 10 1/2 minutes in as drums pound.Organ 12 minutes in as drums pound relentlesly, vocals follow. Ethnic instrumentation 13 minutes in. Piano follows.Themes are repeated.

Recommended to those who like beautiful music.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#173961)
Posted Sunday, June 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Attention Willowglass fans!

Willowglass is certainly getting lots of buzz around the Archives of late for their lush and beautiful symphonic sound. Here's an album sure to please those fans. Hostsonaten is one of the many projects of Fabio Zuffanti, one of Italy's current progressive crop and one of their most prolific. "Mirrorgames" is a classically influenced progressive rock that touches on symphonic and I would argue neo-prog as well. It is certain to be a huge hit with any fan of pastoral, lush, mellotron-laden fantasies that sound just like the gorgeous cover painting implies. It also breaks from the mellow vibe with occasional bursts of electric leads and louder drumming like Willowglass does.

The pros and cons of "Mirrorgames" are well documented and both have validity. Let's look at the criticisms first. As Hugues says and I agree, Zuffanti would be well served to slow down and take more time between releases of his various projects as they often seem to lack focus. They are full of great ideas and beautiful melodies but drift endlessly it seems. This is a conundrum in itself because "drift" and lack of focus can be very pleasurable at times, but unlike the nearly perfect "In Limine" (Finisterre), Mirrorgames clearly could use some editing. Other problems include less than perfect sound quality and to be frank, some pretty weak male vocals (the female backup vocalists are quite a bit better.) There are also some cheesy sounding keyboard choices in certain places and some erratic transitions that remind me of Mindflower, perhaps the closest Italian reference in style. Gorgeous sections will sometimes be crashed by rather ridiculous sounding electric guitar power chords or cheese-synth that sound poorly out of place. On the upside here is the sheer beauty of many sections of the various tracks, where you will hear the cascading keyboards adorned with classical guitars, piano, saxophone, recorders, tin whistle, flute, and choired vocals. The recorder and tin whistle really add that complete "fantasy world" vibe to the proceedings and there are moments when this album transcends many other pastoral album attempts. But consistency is a problem here. Most impressive is the 25 minute epic "the dream" which on its own is more ambitious than some bands manage in their whole 75 minute CD. The soft, female-sung interlude in the 6-8 minute range is simply exquisite backed by lovely acoustic guitar and whistle, sounding almost Oldfield-like. Last I would note the packaging which is a multi-fold digipak with gorgeous artwork and a lyric sheet, all very effective in conveying the moods and music. Overall a good album but with some flaws, recommended to fans of "pretty prog" who don't mind a painting that never seems to be finished.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#204386)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
4 stars HOSTSONATEN soon turned from a FINISTERRE offshoot band to a steady project of Fabio Zuffanti.Just a year after the excellent debut,they recorded a second album called ''Mirrorgames'',released in July 1998 by Mellow Records.The line-up is almost the same compared to the debut's one (actually all the FINISTERRE team is present) and all the music was written by Zuffanti himself,while all lyrics are in English.I admit I was a bit sceptic before purchasing this album,having read the mixed reviews around the web...but I didn't regret it!

''The dream'' clocks at 24 minutes,offering superb Symphonic/Medieval Rock with somewhat weak vocals but excellent musicianship.This track constantly alternates between dark- sounding Symphonic Rock of the Italian school,loaded with haunting guitar melodies and mellotron,and soft Medieval music,based on acoustic passages and traditional flutes,as well as some exciting female choirs.Only the sparse vocals of Zuffanti seem a little out of the concept,but please do not pay attention.The track is simply beautiful!

''Mirrorcloud'' is another dark sounding track in the line,based mostly on its excellent mellow atmospheric instrumental passages.Interesting sax solos,heavy mellotron throughout,relaxed flutes and a grandiose guitar part before the end create a monumental soundscape.''Seasons of eve'' is more of the same.A symphonic track with an intense atmosphere,but this time the vocals by Zuffanti also contribute on the track's beauty,delivering dreamy and sensitive harmonies.The other ingredients are all there:Another memorable mellotron presentation by Osvaldo Giordano (along with his interesting work on organ and synths),emotional guitar soloing and a middle section with flutes and acoustic guitars.''The rime of the ancient mariner II'' comes as a sequel to the eponymous track of HOSTSONATEN's first album.Claudio Castellini is again the singer of this track (as he was in the first album),which opens with soft piano,before recovering the grandiosity of its predecessor with dark and complex guitars taking over,delivering haunting melodies and complicated breaks,along with deep symphonic keyboards.The really short ''There's a certain slant of light'' is an emotional piano-driven and song-based composition which also has some lovely opening vocal harmonies close to YES.

After 50 minutes of great music I find myself wanting for more before entering the closer ''Ellipsis''.A fantastic guitar melody is the greatest introduction to what is on the way and ''Ellipsis'' seems like a continuation of the opener.Classic Italian Symphonic Rock with nice moog synths and strong organ,complicated interplays and muddy electric guitars,supported by the familiar flute work of Marco Moro and a good dose of saxes but both with a little repetitive sound.Another memorable track with changing atmospheres and climates.

I really don't know if ''Mirrorgames'' is better or worst than ''Hostsonaten''.What I know for sure is that this album contains some unclassified inner beauty and a deep intense atmosphere I like a lot.Fantastic work by Zuffanti on song-writing and arranging,which deserves a place among your discography's elit albums.Highly recommended!

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#268324)
Posted Thursday, February 25, 2010 | Review Permalink

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