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Overture - Overture CD (album) cover



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kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars This Italian progressive band were initially formed out of the ashes of Sons of the Rascals in 2010, but it took some years for the current line-up to come together and finally record this their debut album, which was released earlier this year on Melodic Revolution Records. This certainly doesn't sound like a "new" band, but much more as if this was a lost album from the Seventies, such is the influence of that decade. The flute is an important melodic element, but far more tuneful and less forceful than the likes of Jethro Tull, more in common with the stylings of Martin Orford. As with most Italian bands, the keyboards are an incredibly important part of the overall sound, but here there is plenty of piano alongside the more bombastic elements, which again gives a more mature and controlled feel. It is that maturity that shines through on this album, and this never feels like a debut from a "new" group.

One of the highlight for me is the simple use of bass chords at times within songs, the switch from single notes to multiple has a high impact, but it is never over the top, just an additional element of class when the time is right. Songs such as "II Mendicante" are sheer delight, with piano then having vocals placed against them, then acoustic guitar, and when the full band comes in the flute takes it to a whole new level. This is progressive rock music to get lost inside, to be enjoyed with a huge smile on the face as there is just so much to discover and take in. One thing I'm not a fan of however, is the switch from Italian to English halfway through the album. If someone suggested to the band that it might be a way of gaining more fans outside their home country, then they got it wrong. I found it incredibly annoying when I first heard it, and it still jars now even though I have played it multiple times but that really is nit-picking on what is quite a glorious album. Let's just hope that they get back into the studio soon, and that there isn't too long until we get the follow-up.

Report this review (#2054461)
Posted Friday, November 9, 2018 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Italian group Overture began as Sons of the Rascals back in January 2010, but it's taken a name change, a tweaking of the original line-up and several years for the group to be ready to offer their confident self-titled debut in 2018, but the wait has been very much worth it! Containing five lengthy compositions, their music mixes the keyboard dominated colour of F.E.M Prog Band and La Coscienza di Zeno with the infectious youthful spirit of Unreal City - a big influence here. Controversially performing in both English and Italian, their music is full of lush electronics, grand guitar runs and piano prettiness alongside flute, violin and double bass, and their debut offers everything from elegant symphonic touches, classical grandiosity and jazzy detours, all taken even further by charismatic theatrical vocals in the rich vintage Italian prog tradition.

After a brief mood-setting introduction of icy synth drama, there's a constant breathless momentum to `Lux Et Ombra', full of up-tempo sprints of Simone Meli's zippy and whirring keyboards, Stefano Sanna's pulsing bass murmurs and Simone Desogus' snappy drum bursts. Luigi Ventroni's alluring raspy drawl purrs in and out of the tune, and there's gorgeous flute courtesy of flautist Fiorella Piras that moves between huffing danger and reflective prettiness. Also working in elegant piano interludes, moody gothic choir passages, Samuele Desogus's snaking guitar tangles and even jazzy diversions, it's an unpredictable and ambitious opener. `Il Mendicante' continues the sophistication and boasts incredible extended classical piano and electric guitar showcases that are true `wow' moments in amongst a heartbreakingly moving recurring melody.

It's at this half-way point that `Overture' switches to English language pieces (more on this below), and the first is `A Deer In The River'. The reflective first half conveys great tenderness and is full of gentle P.F.M and Genesis-like acoustic passages and soothing synth trills, then the remainder diverts into an exotic symphonic lift. There's endless spacey synths throughout `Crop Circles' (unsurprisingly with its alien theme!) and powerful guitar dominance, with no shortage of standout soloing spots from all the players. The gothic mystery of closer `Ephesia's Chime' holds plenty of delicate moments that are constantly met with spiky dangerous blasts, all culminating in a bombastic ending.

`Overture' admittedly makes for a conflicting album. Make no mistake, every bit of the instrumental arrangements are superb, but the decision to switch languages at the half-way point is a miscalculation. Luigi can truly be commended for his good grasp of English, but it still makes for a jarring transition. Sung in Italian, the music flows with so much naturally romantic passion and vigour, but in English it's a little clunky in comparison. If it had all been English, it probably wouldn't have mattered so much (and some Italian bands, like Syndone and Barock Project do the English performance well), but English on Italian prog-rock albums definitely robs the music of such a crucial part of its identity and character.

(Let's try to put a more positive spin on it though - if any worldwide listeners were intimidated at the thought of listening to a prog album sung in another language for the first time, perhaps the dual languages here would make for an ideal and easier introduction?)

But overlooking that (and if you don't mind the dual languages, it won't matter), `Overture' still remains a strikingly memorable first album of energetic playing, colourful arrangements and singing full of character from an exceptionally talented group of young musicians, and it's a quiet little Italian prog standout of 2018 that deserves to raise Overture's profile even higher. Mark Overture down as a new Italian prog band to keep a close eye on in the future.

Four stars - well done Overture!

Report this review (#2133025)
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Overture come from Mores, a small town in the province of Sassari, Sardinia, and came to life in 2010 rising from the ashes of another band called Sons Of The Rascals. The first line up included Simone Desogus (drums), Samuele Desogus (guitar), Mattia Serra (keyboards, vocals), Salvatore Sassu (flute, guitar) and Stefano Sanna (bass). After a good activity on the local scene where they started to perform progressive rock covers alternated with their own compositions, in 2018 the band recorded and self-released an excellent eponymous debut album with a renewed line up featuring Luigi Ventroni (vocals), Simone Desogus (drums, percussion, vocals), Stefano Sanna (bass), Samuele Desogus (guitars), Fiorella Piras (flute, vocals) and Simone Meli (keyboards, backing vocals) plus the guest Sara Cuzzupuli (violin, vocals). The overall sound is well rooted in the best tradition of Italian symphonic rock and, as music goes through many changes in rhythm and mood, every now and again I'm reminded of another band called Unreal City. Anyway, I think that the art cover by Mauro Mondiello describes the musical content of the album better than many words...

The dreamy opener "Intro" is just a short instrumental track that sets the atmosphere and leads to the excellent "Lux et Ombra" (Light and Darkness), an amazing piece sung in Italian and Latin and dealing with the eternal contrast between Evil and Good. The music and lyrics evoke dark fallen angels, winged demons and damned souls burning in the flames of hell waging war against the illuminated, divine power of science and knowledge: everyone expects to win on the border between Darkness and Light, in an endless fight raging in a world without glory...

The melancholic "Il mendicante" (The beggar) starts by a touching, classical inspired, solo piano passage, then soaring vocals backed by the other instruments begin to portray the image and feelings of a desperate, solitary beggar who's on the brink of committing suicide by jumping from a bridge into the icy waters of the city river...

The following "A Deer In The River" begins with an acoustic guitar arpeggio and is a bitter-sweet piece dealing in a surrealistic way with the problem of emigration. The music and lyrics tell of the fate of a woman who had to leave her little country village on the banks of a river and go in a big city to earn a living. She never feels at ease in the metropolis and her feeling of nostalgia is always strong. Eventually, before passing away, she comes back to her old hamlet and becomes a deer longing for peace in the river...

The following "Crop Circles" is a long track with a mysterious atmosphere and a science-fiction theme. At night a spaceship lands in the middle of a wheat field. Suddenly the wheat start to dance under a strange green light but there's no sound nor fear... Meanwhile a farmer sleeps and dreams in his house, unaware of what's happening in the field. At dawn, when the farmer and his family wake up, everything seems in order but in wheat field there's something new... It's up to the listener imagine what!

The last track, "Ephesia's Chime" is a dark, disquieting piece where the music and lyrics tell about a child game turned into nightmare. There's murder and betrayal, hidden secrets that lead to madness and a storm of haunting melodies and voices coming from the unconscious... Here every now and again the music and the subject matter could recall the deep red colours of Goblin but the band manage to add their own strokes of colour to the musical tableau in an effective way.

On the whole, I think that this is a really good work although the band seem definitively more at ease when using their mother language...

Report this review (#2487842)
Posted Saturday, December 26, 2020 | Review Permalink

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