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4 stars This is a progressive masterpiece from 1990 that has been digitally transferred from a mint vinyl LP and re-issued on the magnificent Brazilian label Rock Symphony. The original vinyl LP was released on the Pegaso Records label and it was MALIBRAN's debut album. MALIBRAN was born in 1987 on the Sicily Island outside Italy. They are playing typical Italian progressive rock with a 70's sound. The musicianship is strong and the music contains many instrumental passages and some nice flute playing. Many of my favourite albums are from Italy with bands such as IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO, BIGLIETTO PER L'INFERNO, CELESTE, I GIGANTI, MARY NEWSLETTER, MAXOPHONE, METAMORFOSI, MUSEO ROSENBACH, PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI, IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA and STANDARTE, and now I can add MALIBRAN to the list as well. MALIBRAN has much in common with many of these aforementioned bands. This is without doubt an Italian classic, but unfortunately I think that not many know about this band. They have recently released a new album called "La Cittą sul Lago" on one of Italy's two major progressive rock labels: Mellow Records. Buy this album and you won't regret it! Highly recommended!
Report this review (#4631)
Posted Friday, January 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
4 stars Back in 1987, the Sicilian band MALIBRAN was born. In the beginning, the Catania natives took off particularly far from the progressive rock tendencies, where a very metal-sound orientation predominated all over their compositions and arrangements. It wasn't until 1989 and during a Prog Festival organized in Rome, when MALIBRAN finally started to set off among the prog world along huge bands of the size of LEVIATHAN, EDITH and NOTTURNO CONCERTANTE. After this mega-show and judging by the response of the fans to the band, they finally produced their first album which was released in 1990 on the Pegaso Records label. Later on, the now seventies-oriented style band released the incredible masterpiece presented as "the best Italian album since 1977", "Le Porte del Silenzio", where MALIBRAN conquered their place among the best three Italian bands of the 90's with FINISTERRE and NUOVA ERA.

Out of curiosity, is how I discovered MALIBRAN. "The Wood of Tales" is an overlooked album, that could easily be measured up to the instrumentation quality and strong composition of "Le Porte del Silenzio", but due the fact it is indeed the band's debut album, it lacks of a deserved recognition and fully acceptance. In that context, is why I firstly wanted to upload my review on "Le Porte del Silenzio", to create a wider panorama where comparisons could be included and counterpoints could be dissipated. It was useful as well because it grew higher expectations on the fans, and in that order, I hoped most of the now MALIBRAN fans could feel the proximity of discovering a brand new band for them.

"The Wood of Tales" is a sea full of complexities and simplicities. Why? Because it's got it all, so you can continuously question yourself why of the surprising displays of geniality on unpredictable conversations between an intrepid flute and a ruthless guitar that sounds off almost disturbing. The opening song of this album named after the band, contains the precise amount of eerie ingredients to avoid you from leaving your seat, warming you up for what's to come (at this point, I must say Giuseppe SCARAVILLI sings spectacularly clear in English. That's a plus for any foreign band which is constantly struggling to remain universal).

Giancarlo CUTULI and Benny TORRISI take away exceptionally the self-titled piece for almost nine minutes, being inspirationally interrupted by Jerry LITRICO's astonishing guitar managing and neat drum performing by Alessio SCARAVALLI. This instrumental suite is beautifully executed from beginning to end, proving that they could be catalogued among the Italian greatest musicians. When moving on to "Sarabanda", you and your ears can realize musical purity comes in a MALIBRAN shape, here you will be able to contemplate the difficulty of playing an acoustic guitar so rapidly and impetuous that it'll make you ask for seconds.

"Pyramid's Street" is the suitable excuse for Giuseppe SCARAVALLI to sweat emotiveness and delicacy throughout his voice while he's having a short conversation with the intertwining flute that flows all over the album. The climax of this suite is represented in a beautiful encounter between the flute that turns quite charming at the pure Arabic style and a echoing guitar that overtakes every now and then to Giuseppe's voice. The lyrics may be repetitive here, but the music floating around them is unarguably variant. The inevitable end comes when we catch up with "Prelude", an indisputable heartbreaking -almost epical- song that evokes great unfelt feelings, that brings out the melodic in you and that will irremediably turn your thoughts against each other. In here, you will experience a certain turn of fate concerning the lyrical composition, but the music accompanying the vocals is outstanding as the rest of the album.

A critical point of departure to compare works to come from most of the Italian bands and many others involved in the art rock, "The Wood of Tales" is the debut album from an underrated band that's certainly deserving of applause and recognition. MALIBRAN will clearly appeal to Italian prog rock fans and to fearless proggers that find in curiosity their source of personal reward. Extremely recommended!

Report this review (#4632)
Posted Monday, August 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars The recently posted review of this disc has prompted me to play it again.I like Malibrans instrumental sound , but as stated in my comments on their other releases,the vocal style of Mr Scaravilli takes some getting used to and to many turns people away from Malibrans releases. This is apity as the compositions and melodies are very good. However , the intro in the first track malibran contains some nice flute and guitar before Mr Scaraveilli mis pronounces 'foggy pool' with some hilarious regularity. A good track though with some delightful flute and bass. Some Tull influence in the middle section of the song with a flute solo passage complete with nasal snorts makes this totally worthwhile .before the original melody is picked up once more. Track 2 The wood of Tales ibegins a scamel influenced track sounding very much like a track from one of their earliest albums.Once agaiin heavily featuring the flute of Glancarlo Cutilli who is a good rock flautist. The second part of this track has a wonderful Flute and guitar duel . Jerry Litrico plays guitar in a very melodic but hard metalic sound and it worksextremely well. Track 2 Sarabanda features a flute and acoustic gutar intro , not my favourite track,but pleasant enough if somewhat meandering. Once again a flute sound heavily influenced by Ian Anderson. Pyramids Street features much vocals ....enough said .but the track is quite beautiful despite Mr Scaravillis disonant efforts

Prelude sounds like live Tull from the 70s and a riff Martin Barre used to play during his 1970 guitar solo slot It rocks

Overall this album would be a good addition to any prog collection not 4 stars but a creditable 3.9 If you havent heard Malibran you should try and seek them out. Their music will appeal to those who like Flute riffs and great guitar solos and melodic keyboards. But if its quality vocal music you like then avoid. For other great flute bands you might be better advised to check out Molly Bloom( their debut CD is areal hidden and unknown gem) , Grovjobb and Ergo Sum.

Report this review (#4633)
Posted Wednesday, August 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Italian prog saw a new coming in -88/-89 and Malibran were one of the first new bands to enter with this debut album from 1990. Bands like Ezra Winston and Nuova Era had already released their debut albums before them in the end of the 80's. Malibran was born in 1987 and their early sound was near prog-metal. It wasn't until the singer Giuseppe Scaravilli (also 2nd guitar) replaced the original singer that they ditched the prog-metal influences and went towards symphonic prog in the classic Italian tradition.

"Wood of Tales" is one of the most impressive debut albums by the new wave of Italian bands but it's also a sign what the band would achieve in their future releases. Nevertheless, the musicianship in this debut is already of highest quality. The bands sound is full and each instrument is given it's space to shine. The one instrument that deserves a special mention and of which fantastic use the band is known of is the flute. Flautist Giancarlo Cutuli's (also sax) playing is haunting and very beautiful. I can't think of any other band that uses the flute as good as this band (yes I prefer this over Jethro Tull). I love flute in progressive music so this obviously is wonderful news at least for me. A great example of the flute playing from this album is the instrumental piece "Sarabanda" with acoustic guitar (also very good).

Like I said, the musicianship is of highest calibre. But there is also a weak link. It's the vocals. For some reason Malibran chose to sing in English in their early career and the vocals are not delivered very expressively by Giuseppe. I always prefer that prog groups sing in their native language. I mean, why not sing in Italian when it suits the music perfectly? I'm relieved to say that probably the band also realized this and a change can be heard in future releases. The vocals are quite minimalist so they don't distract from the listening enjoyment that much.

Conclusion: A very impressive debut. There is not a weak track in the whole album. I would recommend this debut album to anyone who enjoys Italian prog in the grand seventies tradition.

Report this review (#4635)
Posted Sunday, May 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Malibran offers a pure symphonic music. Not always Italian since vocals (when available) are a mix of English and Italian.

Their debut album, which is mostly instrumental (thank god, because I am not convinced by Giuseppe Scaravilli (the lead vocalist of the band). This is particularly true during the opening number "Malibran". We'll just get confirmed than when playing instrumental music, the band sounds a lot better. The title track is definitely a highlight. Italian symph as they can produce : beautiful and poignant music where emotion has a a lot do.

Another great track is "Pyramid's Street". Very strong fluting, this "Bolero" type song is really fascinating. Of course, it is not the first to use this classic theme, but they do it with brio. And what to say about the magnificent "Prelude" ? Apart that it is a weird title for a closing number, it is the most achieved song from this very good album. Wonderful melody, stronger beat than usual, superb guitar work (there won't be many like this on "The Wood of Tales") and again superb flute play. It is the best song from this album and I really recommend it to you if you have the chance to get hold on this album.

This band is not very well known but fully deserve your attention. If you like "Camel" ("Moonmadness", "Snow Goose" period), this band will really please you. The flute adds a little "Tull" flavour which is also very pleasant.

Four stars.

Report this review (#147440)
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another major name of the growing Italian progressive rock scene of the late-80's/early-90's along with Nuova Era,Ezra Winston,Sithonia etc...They were found in 1987 in Catania,Sicily,starting an almost metal band,before refining their sound by late-80's into a delicate symphonic package,influenced by the 70's Italian legends.First album ''The wood of tales'' was originally released in 1990 by Pegaso Records and it's their only release totally sung in English.

Forget about the English lyrics,as ''The wood of tales'' is sounding more like a lost gem of the 70's Italian prog wave than anything close to UK prog.It is mostly an instrumental release coming like a cross between BIGLIETTO PER L'INFERNO,OSANNA and BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO,featuring tons of dark symphonic arrangements,filled with strong flute work,atmospheric synths and delicious Hammong organ passages.Especially the flutes are to the fore,ranging from gentle sounds to haunting driving parts,while keyboardist's Beny Torrisi style reminds me a lot of NUOVA ERA's Walter Pini,being at the same time classical-tinged and melodic.Some very intense grandiose parts in terms of symphonicism are fully characterized by strange and powerful guitar chords,good solos,changing tempos and deep keyboard work...Believe me,this is one of the finest prog rock works to come out in the 1980-1990 period with a very uncommercial sound and trully profressional performances and arrangements,demanding repeated listenings to be appreciated.Highly recommended to all fans of symphonic rock!

Report this review (#200531)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars The Wood Of Tales, the 1990 debut by Italian band Malibran, is something of a rarity (at least in my RPI collection) insofar as it consists exclusively of English language vocals. I'm not particularly keen on this idea, preferring groups to sing in their native language. Some of Malibran's future releases would in fact feature both English and Italian vocals, which if anything is even more unsatisfactory in my opinion. The funny thing is that the sleeve notes are written entirely in Italian. Given that the vocals are in English it would have been nice to have at least some information on the band in that language, but what do I know? By all accounts Malibran were formed as a metal band in 1987 and I'd say there's still some evidence of that on this album. The band includes two guitarists and they tend to dominate on this album. Generally speaking Benny Torrisi's keyboards play only a supporting role, although Giancarlo Cutuli's flute is well to the fore on each track. If you like flute and double electric guitars, there's a fair chance you'll enjoy this.

The first two tracks are identical in length, with each clocking in at 8.39. I don't think there's any great significance in this fact; I just think it's a bit strange. The first song, Malibran, opens with caterwauling guitars over a piano and drums stomp. Stirring stuff indeed, although I'm not overly keen on the digital-sounding keyboards. The vocal part of the song is slow and subdued and provides an effective contrast to the introduction. These guys are clearly influenced by bands such as Jethro Tull and Camel, having at one time or another covered some of these artists' material. This may explain the prominence of the flute on their albums although here it reminds me of the man they call The Flute, Ray Thomas of The Moody Blues. Anyway, the extended flute solo reintroduces the opening theme, which in turn brings this first song to a close. It's a great start to the album and the next track is equally good. The title track begins with keys and Alessio Scaravalli's toms setting the scene. This is a slow-paced instrumental featuring flute once again, and some guitar that's vaguely reminiscent of BJH's John Lees. Midway through there's a change of rhythm with the guitars adopting a distinctly metal tone. The third track, Sarabanda, is a Baroque-styled instrumental piece featuring flute and classical guitar.

The singing on Pyramid's Street sounds a bit cheesy but it would be churlish of me to further criticise Giuseppe Scaravalli's English vocals. It's not really that big a deal; suffice to say his voice sounds so much better in Italian. There's some snake charmer flute on this song, and this Arabic influence plus the bolero rhythm make it sound more like Rock Andaluz than RPI. Some of the electric guitar even reminds me of Spanish band Mezquita. A guest musician plays the keyboard solo toward the end of this song, but I have no idea why. The final track proper, Prelude, features yet more flute; Giancarlo Cutuli owns this album! Lead guitarist Jerry Litrico gets in on the act here as well though, with a couple of blistering solos. There are three live bonus tracks on this Mellow re-release from 2002. I generally don't care for so-called bonus tracks, but that's an issue probably best reserved for the forums. The three tracks in this case are Song For Lisa, Mystery, and Trequanda. Trequanda is the most worthwhile addition to the album despite the drum solo, while Mystery features excellent guitar and saxophone solos. Song For Lisa I could do without although I could honestly do without any bonus tracks, especially live tracks added to a studio album.

Overall this is another fine RPI album, and while it's not one of the '70s classics it is nonetheless very much in that style. It's not my favourite Malibran album and I feel the English language vocals detract slightly from it, although for others those same vocals may actually be a positive. Flute fans in particular should check out this band.

Report this review (#268814)
Posted Saturday, February 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars A debut album, no less/no more.

Malibran from Sicily, Italy has managed to release a considerable amount of good albums and they have earned themselves a good reputation. A reputation which started with this album.

The music here is both a dominated by the flutes and some guitars at the end. The sound is the typical neo-prog sound. This mostly due to the guitars and the vocals which reminds me a lot about the British neo-prog sound from the 1980s. The English vocals is also a contributing factor to the British sound on this album.

The songs are on average good with some really superb melody lines scattered around. The guitar solos on the final track Prelude means the album ends on an untraditional manner, this being an RPI album. Which neatly brings me to.......

This is not a traditional RPI album by any means, but The Wood Of Tales still has enough DNA material to fit into this scene. But most of all; this is a debut album with all it's traditional ills. And it is a good album by all standards. I have my gripes with the vocals and the lack of any truly great songs. But besides of this, The Wood Of Tales is well worth checking out.

3 stars

Report this review (#372125)
Posted Monday, January 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Malibran is one of the bigger names in the nineties' resurgence of Italian progressive rock, and this 1990 debut is the album that put them on the map for prog fans worldwide. The Wood of Tales is an interesting, but flawed, concoction of neo-prog, Italian symphonic prog, and even a few dashes of progressive folk. Flute plays a major part in Malibran's debut, and I love how the instrument is presented as an integral part of their sound - other than that, The Wood of Tales is characterized by the mix of pastoral symphonic prog and eighties' neo-prog that inspired many Italian prog bands around this era. The Wood of Tales is not a flawless gem that's been forgotten by the sands of time, but it's a solid debut that should satisfy most Italian prog enthusiasts.

The easiest comparisons to draw when talking about this album are probably Premiata Forneria Marconi, IQ, and even a bit of Jethro Tull (the flute-led sections make this comparison almost inevitable). The Wood of Tales is a mainly instrumental album, but there are a handful of vocal sections that ultimately leave me with a lukewarm impression. At least on this album, Giuseppe Scaravilli is not the most gifted vocalist and his singing parts come across as detrimental to the compositions. While he's far from an atrocious vocalist, the album would've been a bit better had it been fully instrumental. After all, The Wood of Tales does have plenty of excellent moments of symphonic prog - though there aren't any killer tracks here, Malibran was still a group of gifted songwriters from the beginning. The musicianship on this debut is also quite impressive, and every musician delivers their part with finesse.

While it may seem that The Wood of Tales is a near-flawless album after reading the first two paragraphs of my review, I've yet to mention that the album has a pretty weak production. The sound is simply muddy and unpolished, and the occasional 'buzzing' noises and uneven mix really don't do the album any justice. It's not unlistenable or anything like that, but The Wood of Tales definitely would've left a better impression if the production were up to par with the music.

The Wood of Tales is a flawed, but ultimately promising, debut from one of the biggest names in nineties' Italian progressive rock. Malibran offered plenty of cool ideas and solid compositions with this effort, and I'll be curious to hear what that's led them to create on future albums. Though not essential by any means, The Wood of Tales is a solid observation worthy of 3 stars. Fans of symphonic prog may want to check out this somewhat obscure classic.

Report this review (#574334)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2011 | Review Permalink

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