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Banaau / Hollowscene - Hollowscene CD (album) cover


Banaau / Hollowscene

Symphonic Prog

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Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars The band has a new name and a new line-up but continue to make concept albums, this time about Shakespeare's tragedy "Coriolanus". The band added to their line-up Demetra Fogazza who plays an important role on this album with the flute, but was already working as a session musician in 2017. The music of Hollowscene is inspired by the 70's symphonic Progressive rock, mostly Genesis and Steve Hackett, but the influences of Versus-X, the singer and leader of this band Arne ShaŽfer is even more obvious. The songs have that dramatic beauty of the symphonic prog rock music that is based on extended passages, where every instrument shine through some sumptuous melodies. The atmosphere of the music covers different tempos and moods rarely boring. The playing of two members on the guitar, two others members on the keyboards and the addition of plenty of flutes gives to the music that rich sound. Some of the guitar and keyboards parts are breathtaking in some long instrumental break. The album ends with a cover of Gentle Giant, a little surprise here! Recommended to your Prog collection...
Report this review (#1938849)
Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars This Italian band started in 1990 but didn't release anything until the EP The Burial in 2015. Since that they have changed the band name from Banaau to Hollowscene. They seem to be strongly inspired by classic literature: the early, unreleased compositions were based on the poems of T. S. Eliot. This new release contains 'The Worm', based on E. A. Poe's poem "The Conqueror Worm", which was composed in the early nineties as well. The main thing here is the five-part, roughly 42-minute epic 'Broken Coriolanus' based on the tragedy by William Shakespeare. Respect for that! To think of all childish, fantasy-oriented stories that the history of prog is so full of... Well, maybe I was carried away a little, as I'm a lover of literature, and anyway I'm not familiar with Coriolanus (the play).

Onto the music. It is very symphonically structured. 70's Genesis is mentioned in the artist bio as a reference, and indeed up to the point. The sound is somewhere between the golden era of prog (especially for the analog-sounding keyboards) and the Neo Prog of this Millennium. The vocals are rather clean and technically convincing, but perhaps slightly lacking of passion and personality. Although the line-up consists of seven musicians - guitars and keyboards are doubled - the sound never gets too thick. There's an airiness I'd compare to WILLOWGLASS. The most notable difference between Willowglass and Hollowscene is that the latter has vocals. Flautist Demetra Fogazza also adds her vocals in the final part of the epic; a pity she's not singing at least to the equal measure with the guys. The epic is very solid and dynamic. Some more instrumental approach would have been great, but the lyrics seem quite good and perhaps in time I'll get some hold of the story too (for me the music always comes first, in all music).

'The Worm' (7:54) starts in a peaceful tempo starring flute and guitar, before the whole band and the vocals arrive. Again the structure of the composition is very symphonic; it's such a rollercoaster ride within the limited length. The CD ends with a nice cover version of GENTLE GIANT's 'The Moon Is Down'. However I clearly prefer the original: this one's technically excellent, but it doesn't reach the magical, nocturnal atmosphere.

All in all, this album is excellent work of melodic, classic-style symphonic prog with modern flavours to the sound. In theory, this could be a five-star masterpiece, but somehow the emotional side of my reception never reaches to heavens. Maybe it's mainly the vocals, but there's a slight clinical feel to this marvelous music. A strong four stars, without a question!

Report this review (#1943009)
Posted Wednesday, July 4, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars This Italian project was founded in 1990 as Banaau by the duo Andrea Massimo (guitar) and Lino Cicala (keyboards), their work was inspired by literature from T.S. Elliot and E.A.Poe. The following years the band alternated between success and disappointments and finally disbanded. But in 2011 Andrea and Lino reunited and released the EP The Burial in 2015. Then they changed their name into Hollowscene and released the eponymous debut album on the known Italian prog label Black Widow Records in 2018. As a 7-piece formation, including two players on guitar, two on keyboard, a flute player, a drummer and a bass player with bass pedals.

After a few listening sessions I conclude that Hollowscene makes wonderful music, obviously Seventies Genesis inspired (especially the SEBTP and W&W albums) but also with hints from IQ (bombastic parts with howling electric guitar). The six own very melodic and harmonic compositions (ranging from 5.58 to 13.13) alternate between dreamy with soaring flute, tender piano and warm twanging acoustic guitars and bombastic with flashy synthesizer flights, lots of angelic Mellotron choirs and powerful Hammond organ . This is topped by many moving and sensitive electric guitar soli, often evoking Steve Hackett but also Mike Holmes. The compositions sound very pleasant with a tasteful colouring by guitars, keyboards and flutes.

The final track is the Gentle Giant cover The Moon Is Down (from the 1971 album Acquiring The Taste), Hollowscene has succeeded to give this song a beautiful own flavour, no brass but the emphasis on piano and flute. But now to the vocals: the English is decent but not only in this track but also in the other six compositions his voice lacks power, intensity and passion. As an instrument the vocals don't sound at the level of the other instruments, in a negative way. I wish he had sung in his native language, this would have matched way better with the wonderful and varied symphonic rock on this album.

My rating: 3,5 star.

The first edition of this review was recently published on Dutch prog website Background Magazine.

For more information about other, very interesting Italian prog band O.A.K. (not on PA) their splendid album Giordano Bruno (2018), see my social comment.

Report this review (#2044003)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2018 | Review Permalink

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