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Ciccada - Harvest CD (album) cover

HARVEST

Ciccada

Eclectic Prog


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Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars This band is hailing from Greece, known for delivering a sophisticated blend of folk, psychedelia and art rock since some time. Their albums all were released with a lapse of five years approximately. That means space enough to accurately prepare the ground in every case. 'Harvest' appears as their third one, this time distributed through the acclaimed Bad Elephant Music label. It is quite usual, a rather extensive staff is listed in the liner notes, where the band constants right from the beginning are Yorgos Mouhos (guitars) and multi-instrumentalist Nicolas Nikolopoulos. Both are also responsible for the compositions and arrangements. And not to forget Evangelia Kozoni of course. She is providing her mellow folk tinged singing (and reciting) voice with bravura again. On this occasion within a duo quasi, also having second female lead vocalist Dimi Spela on her side.

According to the album title, the cover image so much the more, one can say they have successfully reaped and sorted the products of their recent recording sessions. Well, the result is tasty, versatile and definitely healthy. Balm for the soul. Besides the well-appointed vocals, what also strikes everywhere throughout is the great organ and guitar interplay. Eh, do I hear a flute or the mighty Mellotron actually? They are opting for a very nice and warm entry into the album, immediately offering a typical trademark. Folk, Jazz and Art rock elements perfectly blended together, based on charming melodies all over. Where the very present flute arrangements sometimes are sounding like a well thought out duet of British (Tull) and native Greek inspiration. Terrific!

The Old Man And The Butterfly partially resembles US psych folk bands from the 1970s, let's say 'Jefferson Airplane' or 'It's A Beautiful Day' for example. This way more tricky, multi-varianted though. Swirling instruments, especially flute, saxophone respectively clarinet, Who's To Decide sounds like joy of living set into music, just imagine people dancing all around with feeling of happiness. Queen Of Wishes comes last, the definite album highlight. Mellow and heavy rocking sections are flowing in peaceful coexistence. The more perfect the arrangements, the more there is to harvest, simple as that. A pleasant listen in its entirety. I am very delighted with CICCADA's new piece of work.

Report this review (#2535685)
Posted Friday, April 16, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hailing from Greece like a comet, Ciccada's third album streaks across the prog sky. Traditional folk instrumentation washes my skull in complex waves reminiscent of a mellow Gentle Giant. Marietta Tsakmakle and Nicolas Nicolopoulos share their diverse woodwind collection, clarinets, recorders, as soprano saxes evoke memories of Tull's "A Passion Play". Ubiquitous 6 and 12 string Greek guitars pluck mystic satyr chord progressions.

Dimi Spela and Evangelia Kozoni share lead vocals. The vocals never overwhelm the filigree lattice arrangements. The band periodically adds wood sprite chants that would fit in perfectly with 1974's pagan horror film, "The Wicker Man". Ciccada's magic music will calm, entertain, and transport you to a Arcadian yet fertile feral harvest. Highly recommended for hedonists drunk on the heady harvest of Gryphon, Gentile Giant, Renaissance, Advent and Jethro Tull.

Report this review (#2542250)
Posted Wednesday, May 12, 2021 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars An amazing band, Prog Folk or not!

Another long span of time passes since the band's sophomore album (which was released five years after their 2010 debut), yet here they are, with a sound and maturity (and comfort or ease) and intimate sound better than ever!

1. "Eniania (Keepers of the Midnight Harvest)" (7:25) folk electric guitar with Mellotron flute--which is so interesting knowing what a FINE flute player they have in Nicolas Nikolopoulos). I love the whole-band choral entrance over the guitar--it sounds so pagan! Gorgeous! The band then flips on the instrumental switch in between the first two choral passages. At 3:15 the guitarist doubles the speed of his arpeggiated lines as a jazzy support ensemble kick into a sax and flute-led section. A minute later the lead instruments switch to jazz electric guitar, organ, and synth, then they trade back to the flute and saxes for the sixth minute before turning quite cinematic. The whole-band weave over the final two minutes is nothing less than astonishing--so much to listen to--all so idiosyncratic and worthy of individual attention. The final minute sees the main choral theme carried forward by recorders and organ over a militaristic style distant snare drumming. Wow! What an opener! We have really missed you, Ciccada! (13.75/15)

2. "Open Wings" (5:28) pure Ciccada Prog Folk in the JTull tradition. The lead vocals are much smoother, less operatic (Dimi's work?) and the production a little more modern (a little tighter, more intimate to the listener). Awesome guitar work--on many instruments--by Yorgos Mouhos. A wonderfully engineered, many-layered and intricately-woven construct. (9/10)

3. "The Old Man and the Butterfly" (7:52) a little heavier prog here, still folkie, but with Yorgos taking the lead vocal! Perhaps more reminiscent of early Prog Folk rockers like SPIROGYRA or even Samla Mammas Manna (in sound, not humor and quirk)--and even some of the more flower-power happy Canterbury artists (like KHAN or today's MAGIC BUS). A non-instrumental song by Ciccada that is not led by Evangelia's voice: something I never imagined! But it's great! A top three song, to be sure!(14/15)

4. "No Man's Land" (8:40) a return to the more-British school of Prog Folk--a little JTull, a little STRAWBS, even a little Pink Floyd and Renaissance--before Evangelia enters with her immaculate, uncorrupt voice. Again, I wish to point out the incredible detail and compositional skill that this band puts into each and every instrumental line of their very complex weaves; it's like watching the Bruges masters of tapestry at work! No line is rote or lame, all functioning to give more life to the whole. And a totally fresh sound and style for Ciccada to explore--and they do it so well! A top three song for me. (18.75/20)

5. "Who's to Decide?" (4:40) more jazz-tinged (though definitely still very much shaped by their regional and, probably, local influences), this song has a lot of similarities to some of the more dark, psychedelic musics of the RPI masterpieces from the early 1970s. As well-performed and composed as the previous songs but just not my cup of tea (as BIGLIETTO PER L'INFERNO, OSANNA, MUSEO ROSENBACH, and even some LE ORME and BANCO are not to my tastes). (8.5/10)

6. "Queen of Wishes" (12:39) This one seems to have more foundations in classically-influence folk traditions, with lots of hard lines in transitions despite the exploration of some wonderfully diverse and dynamic range. This is a song that I grew to love more with my third and fourth listens. Such an unique and eclectic expression of old prog styles: I hear tinges of Anthony Phillips, Gryphon, England, Genesis, Renaissance, Mike Oldfield, early Gentle Giant, Goblin, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, and yet it's all fresh, all perfect. The only place it might have some minor deficiencies is in the melody department. My final top three song. (24/25)

Total Time 46:44

A/five stars; a certifiable masterpiece of sophisticated Prog Folk and definitely an album that keeps giving every time you listen to it--and will, I'm sure, keep giving for years to come. Methinks we are very privileged to be able to hear their work--and to have it preserved for all-time in these recorded albums.

Report this review (#2589536)
Posted Friday, August 27, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars It took six years until after The Finest of Miracles a new album by the Greek formation Ciccada was released in spring 2021, their third overall. The line-up has changed a bit, more precisely: expanded. The wind section is reinforced with Marietta Tsakmakli on saxophone, and vocals are now doubled with singer Dimi Spela. Unlike on the previous one, there are no guest musicians this time.

Musically not much has changed, Ciccada also offer Harvest something like a panopticon of different varieties of progressive rock of the 70s. The music slides out of the speakers in an artful and filigree manner, with the fan and keys usually dominating. The flute, in particular, brings a distinct folkloric component to the music, not of the Greek kind, more of a kind of general folk aura. The guitar creates more filigree braids than robust solos, but every now and then also brings in a slightly floydy tone. The rhythm section accompanies the whole thing confidently. The music is refined again by the clear singing of Evangelia Kozonia, who sings completely in English this time. Your newly added male counterpart brings a nice contrast. In general, there is more singing here than on the two previous albums of the band.

Ciccada again proves that they are not a clone band in any aspect and that they put their unique stamp in their music. It also gets jazzy every now and then, and the clarinet and saxophone often create a subliminal chamber rock atmosphere. When these instruments come to the fore, the music sometimes gets into RIO realms; for example in No Man's Land. The songs are very varied, the band brings a large arsenal of sounds that transform perfectly and thus form one beautiful whole. Ciccada also prove to be one of the leading bands of the retro-prog genre on their third album. Colorful, varied and complexly arranged songs, which are melodious and have rough edges at the same time, and can even get a little weird.

This is an album that will definitely take a high place on my personal list of the best albums released this year.

Report this review (#2591340)
Posted Thursday, September 2, 2021 | Review Permalink

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