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Corde Oblique

Prog Folk

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Corde Oblique A Hail Of Bitter Almonds album cover
4.26 | 21 ratings | 3 reviews | 38% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Hail of Bitter Almonds (2:08)
2. Together Alone (4:15)
3. Arpe Di Vento (4:58)
4. Paestum (5:06)
5. La Madre Che Non C'è (2:47)
6. Slide (2:53)
7. Le Pietre Di Napoli (5:00)
8. Jigsaw Falling Into Place (4:20)
9. Crypta Neapolitana (2:15)
10. Gioia Di Vivere (3:47)
11. Red Little Wine (4:14)
12. The Man of Wood (4:08)
13. Le Piccole Cose (2:37)
14. Pietra Bianca (3:48)
15. Su un Dipinto Di Giovanni Bellini (3:22)

Total time: 55:36

Line-up / Musicians

- Riccardo Prencipe / Classical & acoustic guitars, arranger & producer

- Floriana Cangiano / vocals (1,3,7,10,14,15)
- Sergio Panarella / vocals (2,12), piano (2)
- Annalisa Madonna / vocals (4)
- Caterina Pontrandolfo / vocals (5,9,13)
- Claudia Sorvillo / lead (8) & backing (12) vocals
- Luigi Rubino / piano
- Donatello Pisanello / diatonic organ (14)
- Alfredo Notarloberti / violin
- Walter Maioli / cithara, pan flute & timpani (6)
- Luce Maioli / cithara, pan flute & timpani (6)
- Duncan Patterson / Irish mandolin (10)
- Franco Perreca / clarinet & flute (14)
- Umberto Lepore / bass, fretless bass, double bass
- Alessio Sica / drums
- Francesco Manna / cajón, bodhrán, daf, tar, riq, jingles, tambourine, caxixi, shekere, tombak, darbouka, udu drum, zagat, bells
- Spyros Giasafakis / spoken word (9)

Releases information

Artwork: Martina Troise

CD Prikosnovénie ‎- PRIK149 (2011, France)

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CORDE OBLIQUE A Hail Of Bitter Almonds ratings distribution

(21 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(38%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CORDE OBLIQUE A Hail Of Bitter Almonds reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by kenethlevine
5 stars Riccardo Prencipe and his hand-picked and plucked entourage succeed even better this time around in producing the truly modern equivalent of middle ages troubadour music Italian style. The improvement is principally in the wholeness of this entity, as songs and courtly dances merge into one like predestined partners.

Prencipe's dedication to classical and acoustic guitar ensures the decidedly unplugged aspect of "Almonds", but the deliberately ancient sounding melodies soar atop stellar production that miraculously preserves their fragility. The title cut and opener initially appears as little more than throwaway until the 3rd or 4th listen when the urgency of Floriana Cangiano's voice and and the piano rolls of Luigi Rubino portend the coming delights. "Together Alone" is one of only 2 tracks sung in the masculine, by Sergio Panarella, although he has plenty of help. Here is the song which won't leave my head for hours if not days, an utter delight of transcendent romance with an unfailing chorus and Spanish styled guitar fills. From here the remaining beauties come as no surprise, although many listens are required for full osmosis. "Paestum" is in two parts, the first somewhat poppy, the second a tongue dropping wordless delight. "La madre che non c'e" follows a similar pattern, but with an instrumental first half and more sublime vocals and violin on the home stretch. "Slide" is one of only a couple of instrumentals and is also among the tunes that can't help recalling ERIS PLUVIA.

You might ask if there is any edge here at all. Well, not much in the conventional sense, but the reworking of RADIOHEAD's "Jigsaw Falling into Place" is quite a revelation, and probably the closest to raucous. "Crypta Neapolitana" is quite spooky as implies its title, and where CORDE OBLIQUE earns some of its dark wave credentials. "Goia di vivere" is more subdued than might be expected given its translation as "joy of living". Conversely, even the saddest themes here are somehow uplifting. One of my favourites is "The Man of Wood", the other tune sung by Panarello, coincidentally both being among the few on the disk sung in English. Here is approach is phonetically based, but the emphatic afterthoughts in his style work wonders in creating a solemn masterpiece. Halfway through is a shift to a somewhat more indie rock anthem, naturally understated. "Piccolo rose" is a sweet ballad that accomplishes much in barely two and half minutes in terms of solidifying the atmospheres aimed for and achieved.

If the last couple of tracks slow down the momentum a tad, I do have to point out that the vocal style in "Pietra Bianca" owes a debt of gratitude to the CRANBERRIES Dolores O'Riordan. At the same time, while less blatant, the group clearly benefits from past excercises by both versions of RENAISSANCE, CLANNAD, and KATE BUSH, while references to OLOFERNE are not out of place.

My initial intent was to award another easy 4 stars, but there is nothing here that, taken in the context of its surroundings, detracts in the least from a perfect work, even if the first half dozen listens might suggest otherwise. From that point on, these bitter almonds leave a sweet aftertaste to the palate starved for grace.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A Hail of Bitter Almonds brings RICCARDO PRENCIPE's neo-medieval music project more fully into the prog world. The Post Rock sound and format similar to ANATHEMA is present here. Also, this album has by far the greatest diversity in terms of tempos and musical stylings yet used on a Corde Oblique album. It seems that Riccardo has taken Corde Oblique from the realm of neo-classical, into neo medieval classical, then neo medieval folk, and now prog folk rock with a very consistent medieval folk tinge throughout. Once again drawing from the vocal talents of a stable of superb singers--this time four female and two male--helps A Hail of Bitter Almonds yield some truly memorable songs--though, IMHO, not quite as consistent as its gorgeous predecessor, The Stones of Naples. Still, the highs and diversity of styles and dynamics of this album makes A Hail of Bitter Almonds another gem--and more proggy.

1. "A Hail of Bitter Almonds" (2:08) opens the album powerfully--on the powerful vocal pipes of Floriana Cangiano and great violin accompaniment from Alfredo Notarloberti. (10/10)

2. "Together Alone" (4:15) presents us with a nice male vocal singing in English with standard accompaniment from Riccardo, strings, piano and drums. The shift at 2:50 is nice--and effective. (9/10)

3. "Arpe di vento" (4:58) opens with a very familiar melody--as if from the previous album ("Bario gotico"?) but then deviates into something different. Fast-pace guitar strumming and hand drumming with soloing violin accompany singer Floriana Cangiano (a CRANBERRY lead singer, Dolores O'Riordan, sound-alike) as she tells us her story. Could use a little more variation once the foundation is laid. (9/10)

4. "Paestum" (5:06) piano and strummed guitar establish a fast-paced rhythm before settling back in sparse support of singer Annalisa Madonna double tracking her vocal in two channels (!!). The song goes back and forth between delicate and rolicking. A remarkable song--especially for the vocals! (10/10)

5. "La Madre Che Non C'è" (2:47) opens with Riccardo soloing, sounding as if he might be taking us on an instrumental journey, but then multiple female voices join in. In the second minute the song totally shifts into ballad-type form with, again, multiple tracks of female vocals harmonizing with each other. (Riccardo informs me that both voices are those of Caterina Pontrandolfo--the only vocalist credited to this song.) The song then suddenly shifts into the realm of classical instrumental, but then finishes with Caterina in the driver's seat again. (10/10)

6. "Slide" (2:53) is an instrumental with wooden pan flutes taking the lead--though in a very ethereal, almost sound-effect kind of way. Great melodies and effect. (10/10)

7. "Le pietre di Napoli" (5:00) again that familiar melody of Riccardo's, but then the heart-wrenching voice of Floriana Cangiano makes one quickly forget any disconcerting thoughts. What a gorgeous voice! Excellent choice for the dominant lead singer on the album. The song takes a left turn at the two minute mark, into guitar dominance, with piano, violin and wordless voice becoming more supportive. How interesting! And it works! It builds back onto a kind of dance frenzy before dying at the end. (10/10)

8. "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" (4:20) the cover of a RADIOHEAD song with mandolins and plucked violins opening with the rock band instruments before Claudia Sorvillo takes on the vocal lead. Industrial-sounding programming takes this one into territory Riccardo has not explored before (at least on tape). Definitely a sign of adventurousness. Claudia's vocal in the second half is not quite as powerful as one might want or expect. Perhaps it should've been brought more front and center. You can tell she is enjoying the singing--and the band is really rocking! Well done. (9/10)

9. "Crypta Neapolitana" (2:15) brings us back to the folk-based middle ages--until the 0:35 mark when other instruments join Riccardo and Caterina to give it a kind of Man of La Mancha feel. The male thespian voice only enhances this Spanish Broadway musical feeling. But nice! (9/10)

10. "Gioia di vivere" (3:47) guitar and Floriana Congiano return to sing an impassioned love song--with fine support from strings, distant violin, and ethereal background vocals. Gorgeous singing, gorgeous melody lines, and an awesome ending twist. This one's a keeper. (10/10)

11. "Red Little Wine" (4:14) is a full-band instrumental with lute and piano exchanging the lead. A little repetitive but nice. (8/10)

12. "The Man of Wood" (4:08). It doesn't get more folkie than this. Guitars, dreamy, layers of Serdio Panarella's MORRISSEY-like male vocal, violin, and, later, full acoustic rock band with male and female background choir (all performed by multiple tracks of Sergio and Claudia Sorvillo?). Great song. (10/10)

13. "Le Piccole Cose" (2:37). There's that melody again! Riccardo opens this gentle and gorgeous song with his guitar and violin. Caterina Pontrandolfo performs the lead vocals here with her usual calm and reassuring vocal tones. It is certainly a beautiful song! (I cannot help but ask at this point whether or not Riccardo is intentionally recapitulating this theme--as if in a concept album?) (10/10)

14. "Pietra Bianca" (3:48) opens as a Riccardo instrumental--sounding like a lullaby--before clarinet and Floriana Cangiano's wordless vocalizations join in, weaving in with the guitar, clarinet and organ. Gorgeous and powerful song! (10/10)

15. "Su un dipinto di Giovanni Bellini" (3:22). Riccardo and Floriana Cangiano close out the album with an almost-Celtic sounding song. It's nice enough but something is missing. (8/10)

A five star masterpiece on the scale of the greatest masterpieces of all-time. This album started out high on my playlist, disappeared for a while, but I found myself returning to this one--and this one more than any of Riccardo's other beautiful albums. A real grower! Check it out and then let it percolate. You'll become an addict like me, no doubt.

Review by Warthur
3 stars I was rather taken by Corde Oblique's previous album, The Stones of Naples, but on A Hail of Bitter Almonds I found the charms of their interesting folk-classical fusion beginning to wear thin. It's all very pretty, with a suitably talented set of vocalists summoned, but far from the bitterness promised by the album title there's a syrupy sweetness to everything that becomes increasingly cloying as the album progresses. There's an odd take on Radiohead's Jigsaw Working Into Place which shows imagination, but otherwise I found much of this album to be forgettable, though forgettable in a rather pretty way. Smooth, and perhaps a little too smooth.

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