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4 stars Travelling can give deep emotions, apart from the place to reach, whether you're escaping from something (or somebody) particularly, or from the daily matters. With "Nuvole di ieri", Nicola Randone tells us a trip of some friends to Amsterdam, using a large numbers of details. He's supported by Marco Crispi on guitars, Riccardo Cascone on drums and Daniel Martinez on bass; as special guest, we find Beppe Crovella (Arti & Mestieri) on Hammond. So, it's a concept-album built around one long suite divided in eighteen rooms: the italian progressive vein is higher than his first effort "Morte di un amore" released two years ago. It's complex and friendly at the same time, refined and prickly thanks to Marco Crispi guitar playing. It's recommended to listen to it from start to finish with no breaks. My favourite rooms are "La casa maledetta" and "Un vecchio che voleva morire". No doubt, "Nuvole di ieri" is the best italian prog album of 2003.. and what a beautiful cover art !!
Report this review (#33274)
Posted Monday, November 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Prolusion. RANDONE is a contemporary Italian band led by the singer, lyricist and composer Nicola Randone. I reviewed Nicola's debut CD "Morte di Un Amore" (2002) some three years ago, and recently I received two more CDs from him: "Nuvole e di Ieri" (2003) and "Hybla Act 1" (2005). The artist's website is abundant in various information, but doesn't feature his or the band's bio either. However, I've found that there is one more CD in the band's discography, entitled "Ricordo" (2004). I haven't heard this 40-minute album in its entirety, but I well remember its centerpiece, the 21-minute suite Jill, which is described within my review of "The Spaghetti Epic".

Analysis. There is a certain common ground between the first Randone album and "Nuvole e di Ieri", but the latter is more progressive, showing a solid improvement in everything: from composition to the musicians' technical mastery. Subtitled as "Suite da un Viaggiatore", it's a concept work, a true suite consisting of 18 parts/tracks. There are no pauses between them, and since the music is normally in a state of constant and logical development, it's often hard to notice when the next section begins without looking at the display on the CD player. If I were about to describe the material very briefly, I would have certainly chosen the term Rock Opera. Although Nicola's vocals aren't really operatic, they are distinctly theatric in character, and their specific combination with the music as such paints a pretty distinctive picture of a one-singer Rock Opera, bringing to mind such titles as "Tommy" by The Who, "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" by Genesis or any concept album by King Diamond. Though of course, it's clear that there is nothing in common between the said and implied works but a specific fairytale-like atmosphere, the resemblance arising on more of a subconscious level. As ever, Nicola has written all the music and lyrics for this album too, but it's his band mates who've done most of the arrangements this time out, and their activity in this field is much more obvious here than before. Five of the eighteen sections are instrumental pieces. But while most of the others are rather abundant in vocals, there are few repeats of the previously sung themes, the instrumentalists never stopping to weave intricate patterns around vocal lines, which, incidentally, are also amazingly diverse. The suite is fully composed, revealing powerful melodic elements and refined counterpoints by virtue of four lead instruments, namely vocals, keyboards, electric and acoustic guitar. Nicola, who, apart from singing, actively plays acoustic guitar, is the main provider of the melodic component, delivering all his parts with remarkable taste and beauty. Marco Crispi is often responsible for imparting harshness to the sound, masterfully operating with his electric guitar while doing either solos or riffs. Beppo Crovella's keyboard equipment consists exclusively of the famous vintage models: Mellotron, Moog synthesizer, Hammond organ, ARP string ensemble, etc. He is a notably inventive musician, and above all it's thanks to him that the music has such a pronounced '70s sense. Some part of the band's melodic strength is rooted in Italian folk music, but overall, most of the stuff falls squarely into the category of classic symphonic Art- Rock, with the alternation of intense and quieter arrangements, contrasts between louder and delicate passages being an integral part of the overall picture. That's how the events unfold on the five songs: Parienza, Chiaro Mattino, Regina Mary, Il Fantasma del Musicista and Risveglio, and on each of the five instrumental pieces: Preludio, La Casa Maledetta, Vonto Tra le Foglic, La Danza and Nuvole e di Ieri Reprise, except the former, which was performed without the rhythm section and is quiet in its entirety. The border between the said and most of the remaining tracks is quite thin. Amsterdam, Confuso e Smarito and Un Vecchio are much in the vein of the primary style, but there also are elements of Prog-Metal, while Prima Notto, Piano il Sonno Giunge, Raccolgo un Sasso Nero and Buona Notte refer equally to symphonic Art-Rock and the Baroque Classical music, the quieter moments being filled with passages of Mellotron, string ensemble, piano and acoustic guitar. The largely instrumental La Strada is a blend of Art-Rock and Prog-Metal and is the one that is intense almost in its entirety.

Conclusion. Randone's "Nuvole e di Ieri" is one of the most impressive works of Italian Prog I've heard in recent few years. Top-20-2003. This is not all, however. There is a weightier conclusion on the band's creation in the review of their latest CD, "Hybla Act I".

VM: January 8, 2006

Report this review (#66899)
Posted Thursday, January 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Splendid effort!Actually here we have to deal with only one 43-min epic symphonic song!Great vocals by Nicola Randone (though I don't understand the lyrics),that match up awesome with the symphonic music of the album.I can find also a lot of similarities with an other great band from Italy,NOTABENE.How would have sounded the legendary italian prog bands of the 70's nowadays? Certainly like RANDONE!Find this album...PROG RULES!
Report this review (#144564)
Posted Sunday, October 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Nuvole Di Ieri' - Randone (8/10)

Hailing from Italy is another great offering from one of the world's most prolific regional prog music scenes. As mild mannered and personable as any man you will meet, Nicola Randone introduced me to his musical world with his latest album, 'Linea Di Confine,' which after repeated listens, blew me away and left me wanting more of his music. After having spent many hours wrapped up in the symphonic rock of Randone, I can safely say that this group's work ranks up there as one of my favourite recent musical discoveries. Taking the musical style developed by generations of Italy's best modern musical minds and putting his own personal spin on it, Nicola Randone is certainly consistent in terms of the quality of his material. And 'Nuvole Di Ieri' is no exception to this rule.

Like much of his other work, Randone lets this album flow seamlessly from one track to another; giving the impression that 'Nuvole Di Ieri' is actually the title of a forty minute song, instead of merely an album. At eighteen tracks, there are a foray of different musical ideas and moods that the music cycles through. It does not take long for things to get rolling; a short prelude introduces one of the main recurring motifs of the work before one of the most exciting tracks 'Partenza' comes into play. From this first 'actual' song alone, it's not in question that Nicola and his fellow musicians are highly skilled and talented at their work. Although Mr. Randone has a dayjob as a graphic designer (as can be seen in the band's beautiful album artwork) and only pursues his music out of love for the art, Randone is easily talented enough to be a full-time, professional act. On top of this skilled musicianship, the music here is very tastefully produced and arranged; there are plenty of little nuances in the music you likely will not pick up until after a few intent listens.

While the fact that 'Nuvole Di Ieri' is a song cycle makes it all the better in terms of cohesion, I sometimes wish that alot of the musical ideas could have been developed more and explored in further detail. While there is nary a single minute of music here I don't find excellent or at least very good, the sheer amount of concepts that roll through the course of the album means that there is not very much time for most of the melodies and concepts to establish themselves before the album moves onwards. With many of the tracks averaging around the two minute mark, 'Nuvole' is certainly not the sort of work that can be analyzed track-by-track, but rather as a whole.

More so than the other music I've heard from Randone so far, this is a highly guitar driven album. While there are plenty of vocal and symphonic arrangements to give depth to the music, you will not go a few minutes here without hearing a guitar solo or flourish from the man himself. While heavy concentration on guitar has led to me appreciating a few albums in my collection less, the guitar work here never gets tasteless. While many contemporary guitarists exchange taste for technical flair, the guitarists here manages to make their guitars sing, all the while throwing something technically impressive our way to keep us on our toes. Being that this is a very guitar-driven album, there was definately consideration in getting a fitting tone for the axework here. Much of the lead work and guitar work here is very close to the sort of stuff that made Brian May of Queen famous for his skills. As much as he is a great composer of epic song suites and a skilled tenor, Randone really excels at his mastery of the guitar. Lead work from guitarist Marco Crispi is also a real highlight here.

'Nuvole Di Ieri' is a great offering to the Italian Prog scene, as well as a fit addition to Randone's discography. While the style is more or less the same as the rest of his albums and works like 'Linea Di Confine' seem to have more standout moments and leave a somewhat stronger impression, 'Nuvole' is definately an album that will be getting repeated plays from me over the years.

Report this review (#289895)
Posted Sunday, July 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. I wasn't exactly overjoyed when I saw 18 tracks at just over 43 minutes, but thankfully some of them blend into one another.This is modern RPI from a talented man named Nicola Randone. He enlisted the help of ARTI & MESTIERI keyboardist Beppe Crovella who adds a variety of keyboards including mellotron into the mix. To be honest I didn't even like this after the first listen but it has grown on me. I'm not even sure why this hasn't clicked with me because all the elements that I like about RPI are here.

There are some really excellent passages throughout this record. It's interesting hearing the lead guitarist while Randone is playing over top with his 12 string guitar.There are some fairly heavy sections on here as well. Some guest female vocals on one track are good and there are some word samples sprinkled throughout leaving me to believe this is a concept album. I hope this will continue to grow on me but right now I can't offer up the fourth star.

Report this review (#398107)
Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
The Crow
3 stars Second effort of the talented Italian musician Nicola Randone and his band!

And this time, with the incorporation of the fine guitar player Marco Crispi the quality of the music increased dramatically, despite faithfully continuing the romantic symphonic prog style of its predecessor Morte de un Amore. The production of Nuvole di Leri is also good enough to enjoy every detail and the Cascone's drums are especially powerful.

However, the best is that the songwriting has also improved a lot since Morte de un Amore. The songs structure in the track list is a bit confusing because Nuvole Di Leri is really one 43 minutes long song. Epic, deep, full of variations and beautiful moments. Only the song Partenza is better than the entire previous album of the band.

Why am I only giving three stars to this album, then? Mainly because Randone's voice. His high-pitched, nasal, over dramatic and affected tone is still a bit annoying for me and it subtracts quality to the otherwise very good music. What a pity!

Best tracks: as I said, the album is really only one long and epic song! And a very good one indeed.

Conclusion: Nuvole Di Leri is much better than Morte de Un Amore. Is better structured, funnier and with a much more compelling songwriting and playing. Sadly, Nicola's voice spoils a bit the otherwise great musical work that this album contains.

Nevertheless, if you are into Italian prog-rock you must check this good album out!

My rating: ***

Report this review (#2108315)
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2018 | Review Permalink

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