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Quel Che Disse Il Tuono - Il Velo Dei Riflessi CD (album) cover

IL VELO DEI RIFLESSI

Quel Che Disse Il Tuono

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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4 stars "FIRST REVIEW OF THIS ALBUM"

Recently I was surfing on the Background Magazine Facebook page, I stumbled upon a post from a member of Quel Che Disse Il Tuono about their debut album, read the very positive words and decided to contact that band member on Facebook. During a one hour chat it turned out to be the female guitarist, only 30 years old but very much into Seventies David Gilmour and Andy Latimer, and playing on a Fender Stratocaster from 1972. But she also plays on a 'fair amount of vintage keyboards', to say the least, what an awesome array of distinctive and unsurpassed 'old gear'. Including a digital Mellotron delivering mind blowing sounds of the violin - and choir section, that was what I discovered while I listening to their debut CD on the band camp page. But first a small history lesson.

The new Italian formation Quel Che Disse Il Tuono (which means "What The Thunder Said") was founded early 2019 in Milan by four young musicians: Francesca Zanetta on guitars and additional vintage keyboards (she was the founder of Unreal City), Niccolò Gallani on keyboards, flute and additional vocals (he is an active member of Cellar Noise), Roberto "Berna" Bernasconi" on bass and lead vocals, and Alessio Del Ben on drums, and additional keyboards and vocals. The biggest influence is symphonic progressive rock from the early 70s, especially Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Camel and Pink Floyd. But all members also like the prolific Italian prog. The band's name is an homage to the late poet T.S.Eliot while Il Velo Dei Riflessi is a wider concept.

The album contains five tracks, including four epics, between 9 and 14 minutes. The other song Chi Ti Cammina Accanto? is a wonderful ballad, very tastefully coloured with fragile guitar play, the distinctive string-ensemble, intense Mellotron violins (reminding me of Museo Rosenbach and the Skandinavian prog), melancholy Grand piano, delicate flute, and topped with strong and emotional vocals. The conclusion is very compelling, featuring intense Mellotron violin, bombastic Mini Moog, sensitive electric guitar and Mellotron choir, in the end tender Grand piano, slowly fading away, simply wonderful.

But back to the four epics, these are firmly rooted in the Seventies symphonic rock tradition, very melodic, harmonic and dynamic with lots of shifting moods, strong musical ideas, and pleasant Italian vocals. But the most obvious element is the lush vintage keyboard sound, from soaring Mellotron violins, subtle Fender piano and delicate Solina string-ensemble to bombastic Hammond, flashy Mini Moog and majestic Mellotron choirs, wow! Every composition delivers its own flavour and interesting musical ideas.

An omnipresent Hammond organ, exciting eruptions on Mellotron and Mini Moog, warm flute play and elements from early Camel, Genesis and Le Orme in Il Paradigma Dello Specchio (Primo Specchio).

Figlio Dell'Uomo (Secondo Specchio) features even more Vintage Keyboard Extravaganza, from Mellotron choirs and tender Fender piano runs to flashy pitch bend driven Mini Moog flights and bombastic Hammond runs (evoking Le Orme, first album). I am also pleased with the varied guitar work and the emotional vocals.

In the alternating Il Bastone e Il Serpente (Quarto Specchio) lots of interesting moments: a raw rock guitar blended with lush vintage keyboards (evoking Swedish Landberk), a captivating contrast between the powerful electric guitar and soaring Mellotron (reminding me of Museo Rosenbach) and another compelling grand finale, now with a tight rhythm-section, moving electric guitar, awesome Mellotron choir and Mini Moog, what an exciting blend of Seventies UK symphonic rock and Classic Italian prog.

The final and longest epic track entitled Loro Sono Me - Catarsi (close to 14 minutes) is my highlight on this album. It contains hints from King Crimson and Anekdoten (compelling, dark, fiery guitar and intense Mellotron), Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Le Orme (bombastic Hammond) and Il Balletto Di Bronzo (bombastic, compelling, agressive drums and majestic Mellotron). And cascades of interesting musical ideas, from interplay between Mellotron brass and harpsichord to a Spanish guitar (part of Asturias) with rock guitar, 'classic meets prog'. The conclusion is mind blowing: after a Mellotron violins interlude and slow drums (evoking early Genesis), a rock guitar joins, the music builds to a grand finale featuring strong vocals, again an awesome Mellotron choir sound, varied guitar work (from subtle distorted to very moving) and lush Hammond, in the end again (like in the start) the sound of thunder, wow, this is the band in its full splendor, very well done!

Highly recommended!

This review was also published on the Dutch progrock website Background Magazine, the oldest prog source in The Netherlands.

Report this review (#2344266)
Posted Sunday, March 22, 2020 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Review originally posted at www.therocktologist.com

Since I was a young prog rock neophyte, I have crossed with statements such as 'prog rock is dead' 'there is no good 00's prog' and other strange thoughts from people who got stuck in the 70's. Of course, we all know and love old school prog and will always thank them for seeding the roots, however, there is a huge amount of new projects that incorporate that history to brand new compositions and concepts, such as new Italian outfit Quel Che Disse Il Tuono.

I have always been a big RPI lover, its symphonic driven music, its pastoral sounds, its theatrical compositions, its cultural inspirations, and a long etc. Fortunately, in this 21st century I have witnessed the born of new talented bands that clearly deserve attention, such as Unreal City or Cellar Noise, which I mention on purpose because members from those bands are featured in this new project.

Well, last March the band released its first baby entitled 'Il Velo dei Riflessi', just after one year the band formed. It is a concept album in which themes like schizophrenia and acceptances are pointed out. It comprises 5 tracks, the first four are mirrors and the last one is a catharsis. It opens with 'Il paradigma dello specchio (primo specchio)' -if you know RPI, then you are aware of the importance of track number 1 in its history- a great track that has that vintage feeling produced by keyboards and that typical Italian voice. Lush keyboards, mellotron, a dynamic guitar, instrumental passages that change from minute to minute creating a diversity of emotions, from chaos to tranquility.

Impossible not to move the head with 'Figlio de'll Uomo (secondo specchio)', its rhythm got stuck on my head and since the first listen it entered deep in my veins. It is like one minute and a half until it stops and becomes a ballad- like track for a minute, just before it explodes with a guitar solo first and then a moog solo that could be featured in any 70's RPI record or even in a 00'S Ayreon record. I like the mood changes on the song, the band knows how squeeze their capacities, which is why it sounds so natural and creative. Just before reaching the 7th minute, I thought the band would make a kind of tribute to Le Orme (maybe the did, I don't know) but it was probably just my mind's association.

'Chi ti cammina accanto (terzo specchio)' is a beautiful song, the shortest of the album and why not, the catchiest. The mood is so soft, relaxing and even introspective. I love the sound of the flute at minute two, just before Bernasconi's voice enters. Later Zanetta's vocals join and the two of them create a brief but heartfelt passage. The las minute is incredible deep, Gallani's colorful keyboards produce countless emotions, while Del Ben's drums create nice figures that complement the music.

'Il bastone e il serpente (quarto specchio)' starts with a bass slap and then guitar and drums join. Honestly, I didn't like the start of this track, it sounds a bit raw and dirty, maybe it was a matter of the production. After one minute the passage get more interesting, with a wonderful moog solo first and then Hammond, mellotron and piano creating countless textures. When vocals enter a theatrical mood appears, working as a fishhook for the listeners. There are several cool passages on this track, to be honest, but this time I tended to enjoy the most the one at minute 7, so soft and emotional, beautifully crafted by piano and vocals, and then amazingly complemented by mellotron and guitar. But wait, that's not the end, later there is an explosive ending.

The album finishes with its most ambitious track: 'Loro sono me (Catarsi)', a 14-minute rollercoaster of sounds and emotions. Here we will be taken to a trip to different points of the 70s, the names of King Crimson, PFM, or Museo Rosenbach might spring on your mind. It is in fact a cathartic track full of nuances, an immersion of the senses. The band did a great job in this particular track, an example that they started with the right foot and are on the right direction. Seems they get along so positively, and since their first child was a challenging album, I am sure they will give us more news in the future.

Is prog rock dead? Never!

Report this review (#2378121)
Posted Friday, May 8, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect]

There is always a danger when one has been anticipating a release for a long time, and it felt like a long time waiting for the debut release from Quel Che Disse Il Tuono. Actually, the album was put together in a very short space of time, as the band was founded only a year ago. However, the enormously talented Francesca Zanetta (a founder of Unreal City) was a founder of Quel Che Disse Il Tuono, and that alone had me impatient to hear what the band could muster. As she and the band teased their progress on a regular basis, it was hard not to be impatient to hear the end result. And, at the same time, a little worrying. Would the end product live up to the hype?

The short answer, if you don't wish to read the rest of the review, is yes. Go out and buy Il Velo Dei Riflessi. You won't be disappointed. This is a truly magnificent album, taking all that was great about the classic years of Rock Progressivo Italiano, and propelling it forward into today. It has all the retro charm you could wish for, with the production values classic RPI usually lacked. Now, I'm biased, because I've long been a lover of RPI. But for those less enthused, let me add that this album is also extremely reminiscent of vintage keyboard led Scandinavian bands such as Anekdoten, Nordagust and Mater Thallium (to name but three).

I'm reminded of so many of the RPI bands of the '70s that I love, but this sounds so much better. A lot of this is down to the production, which is just wonderful. But there's no getting away from the talent the band displays, and the use of so many gorgeous vintage keyboards. Having three talented keyboard players surely helps, with Francesca Zanetta and Alessio Del Ben adding additional keyboard flourishes to main keys player, Niccol' Gallani. Gallani himself shows his multi-instrumental prowess too, with some absolutely beautiful flute playing. And the vocals! Oh, the vocals! Roberto Berna Bernasconi could not be more perfect, belting out the style of vocals (stereo)typical of RPI. Bold, highly emotional, almost operatic, and sung in Italian. Does that last matter? Well, personally I'd say yes. Whether it is Banco, PFM, Maxophone, or any other RPI band who released English language versions of their songs, these were always inferior to the Italian sung versions. The Italian language is one of the most musical in the world, and much of the magic in RPI is in the vocals. Bernasconi scores highly in this regard.

But let's be honest, every member of Quel Che Disse Il Tuono scores highly. After listening through the album the first time, I wondered if this might be my most favourite RPI release ever. Such hyperbole is not uncommon when I first hear something new that I instantly am enamoured with, so I ignored this feeling. And yet? And yet, after having listened to the album dozens of times now, I can't help but still feel this way. This is a simply magnificent album, which encapsulates all that I love from the classic years of RPI, and makes it greater!

The album begins with the thunder implied by the band's name, before taking us through a metaphorical storm of the mind. A mind split, and viewed through four mirrors (the first four tracks), as the individual suffering this mental disorder works to accept these deviations are who he is, this final catharsis worked out through the final track. Would I have known that if I did not have the electronic press kit that came with the album? Probably not, but nor does it really matter. I don't understand the lyrics, but I could use Google to translate them if I felt the need - and I do not. I'll be honest, I don't pay a great attention to the lyrics when they are sung in English, so I'm not going to go out of my way when they're not. For me, the voice is merely another instrument, and a wonderful one in this band. It is possible, however, to hear the resolution of the final song in the music. And equally, the conflict within the first four. (The heavy melancholy of second mirror, Figlio Dell'Uomo, for example, is palpable, and depressingly beautiful.)

A feature of RPI is that the music often sounds like classical music within a rock setting, rather than rock music utilising classical elements. From the first track forward, this is immediately the impression one gets, and it sweeps me away from the beginning. The interplay of the instruments, along with the textures and timbres the varying vintage keyboards provide, is more symphonic than most symphonic prog bands. And yet, Francesca Zanetta's guitar adds an edge that was often lacking in classic RPI. If you loved her playing in Unreal City, you will here, too. It doesn't sound at all the same (although, as Zanetta herself proclaims, it is recognisably played by the same fingers), but it sounds just as good. While most classic symphonic RPI bands, especially given how keyboard- centric they were, tended to take after ELP, Quel Che Disse Il Tuono seem to take more from King Crimson - which is perhaps why I hear the resemblance to the aforementioned Scandinavian bands, who are also influenced by King Crimson.

But, as I've tried to stress, no matter their roots and influences, Quel Che Disse Il Tuono sound entirely modern. The band themselves have said, 'We are fully aware of resting on the shoulders of giants, we know our background and we are aware of the great influences that derive from it. Nonetheless, it is our firm intention not to be a derivative group: we work constantly to outline a distinctive and modern character.' I certainly believe that the band have managed just that, and it is a harder won victory than you might think. There are many bands that become so entrenched in their attempts to recreate the sound and feel of the classic period of prog that they are plain boring. In fact, I dislike far more retro prog bands than I like. But this, I love.

And like that, the album ends as it began, with the sound of thunder. It's been just under an hour, but it feels no longer than quarter of that - the approximate length of the final song, in fact. There are some albums that feel far too long, but this one is over far too soon. The only thing to do is put it straight back on, and listen again. This could easily have been a disappointment, especially for someone like me who has such a love for classic RPI. Instead, it's a contender for my favourite album of the year. And it's only a debut! Let's hope Quel Che Disse Il Tuono don't go the way of so many great RPI bands of the '70s and be one and done.

Report this review (#2378160)
Posted Friday, May 8, 2020 | Review Permalink

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