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Nichelodeon Bath Salts album cover
3.56 | 17 ratings | 9 reviews | 6% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 - Capitolo I. D'Amore e di Vuoto (54:50)
1. Prologo (3:13)
2. Un Posto sicuro (8:53)
3. Ricordo d'Infanzia (6:23)
4. Surabaya Johnny (5:24)
5. Bolle (2:11)
6. Rapporto sulla Fine di una Storia (4:52)
7. (This Side of) The Looking Glass (6:24)
8. Desiderio nascosto (3:48)
9. 7 AZIONI - Musica per la Carne (6:30)
10. Giulia - nata in 7 Mesi, morta al primo Appuntamento (7:12)

CD 2 - Capitolo II. Di Guerre e Rinascite (51:34)
1. Terra (4:48)
2. Alla Statua dei Martiri di Gorla (9:23)
3. Fuoco Amico - mai N.A.T.O. (2:20)
4. Trittico 50 mg (7:05)
5. Johnny dei Pirati (5:01)
6. Secca in Festa - Lode ad Antonio Primaldo (2:58)
7. L'Urlo ritrovato (12:45)
8. Un Posto sicuro #2 (2:32)
9. Finale - Ninna Nanna (3:03)
10. Portami un Fiore (1:39)

Total Time 106:24

Line-up / Musicians

- Claudio Milano
- Raoul Moretti
- Pierangelo PANdiscia
- Vincenzo Zitello

- Michel Delville
- Walter Calloni
- Paolo Tofani
- Valerio Cosi
- Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo
- Alfonso Santimone
- Stefano Delle Monache
- Elio Martusciello
- Paolo Carelli
- Lorenzo Sempio
- Max Pierini
- Andrea Breviglieri
- Andrea Murada
- Massimo Falascone
- Sebastiano de Gennaro
- Giorgio Tiboni
- Laura Catrani
- Valentina Illuminati
- Ivano La Rosa
- Luca Pissavini
- Alessandro Parilli
- Francesco Chiapperini
- Andrea Quattrini
- Fabrizio Carriero
- Anna Caniglia
- Marco Confalonieri
- Simone Pirovano
- Simone Beretta

- Instrumentation could not be verified at this time. If you have information, please contact the site.

Thanks to windhawk for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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NICHELODEON Bath Salts ratings distribution

(17 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(59%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

NICHELODEON Bath Salts reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Recently I received a fascinating looking 4 Cd set, beautifully packaged in a blue textured card sleeve and tied with string. 2 of the cd's were the album I'm reviewing here, Bath Salts by NichelOdeon, the other 2 being L'Enfant Et Le Menure by InSonor. The connection between the 2 projects is the vocalist Claudio Milano hence the reason for them being available together but the 2 double albums are also available individually. As InSonor are currently being evaluated by the Avant team I'll stick to the NichelOdeon discs for this review though I'll add that anyone interested in Bath Salts is equally likely to enjoy the InSonar project too.

Where to start with such an ambitious release? Well NichelOdeon is a project masterminded by Claudio Milano, Raoul Moretti, Pierangelo Pandiscia and Vincenzo Zitello though it features numerous guest musicians too. 32 in total apparently. According to the press release it's a concept album based on "cannibalism in interpersonal relationships". Sounds a bit heavy going? Well there's no denying it, it is, being spread over 2 discs with a total running time of over 1 hour and 40 minutes making it more so. While musically it clearly sits in the avant genre it features elements of classical, jazz with electronic and ethnic touches too. While it's not going to appeal to everyone's tastes and some of it is undeniably heavy going much it features surprisingly strong melodies.

The music centres around the incredible vocals, sung in Italian, of Cladio Milano. His emotional and highly skilled delivery, with a high range too, suggest some sort of classical training but whether this is the case or not I don't know. He's sometimes aided by equally effective female backing vocals. Despite the effectiveness of the often sparse instrumental backing it's his vocal work that really sets the music alight. Musically though it's all beautifully played with harp having strong presence in many of the pieces. In fact opener Prologo features only Celtic harp and vocals and is perhaps the most beautifully haunting composition on the entire album. Surprisingly some of the music has, to my ears at least, a traditional Japanese vibe, non-more so than on Un Posto Sicuro which is another highlight. While there's no drum kit as such on most the pieces plenty on use is made of many percussion instruments which works very effectively. Not surprisingly most of the instrumentation is of the classical variety such as cello, violin, viola and flute with occasional use of bass guitar and sax.

As already mentioned, considering the style of music, much of the material is surprisingly melodic though occasionally things become heavier going like on the vocal dominated 7 AZIONI - Musica Per La Carne and Fuoco Amico. However, by avant standards at least, much of the album very accessible to those - and that includes me, who don't normally listen to this kind of music.

Overall then while this is not going to be to everyone's taste's, due in no small part to the skill and inventiveness on display the project can be regarded as a big success. At the right time I can see myself chilling out and really enjoying Bath Salts. Well worth checking out, even if music of an avant nature is not normally your thing.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "This is the record of human revolution. Dedicated to those who are born or reborn in this moment." That is a line from the liner notes of this musical revolution that is Bath Salts. The second studio album from Italian avant-garde group NichelOdeon, who previously released a DVD and two live albums as well. Masterminded by the talented Claudio Milano who is a versatile vocalist and forward-thinking composer and all-around artiste. Apparently a concept album about "cannibalism in interpersonal relationships." The music here is different from previous NichelOdeon work. For one thing the line-up has been scaled back and includes different instrumentation than before. The most important instrument here (besides Claudio's voice obviously) is a harp.

Compared to earlier material released by this group, the music here is more accessible in general and very melodic in places. Don't let that fool you; this music will still be considered weird by most. Some of those melodies for voice and harp are just heavenly. NichelOdeon only had a real drummer for one live album. Here, many different sorts of percussion instruments (some quite exotic in fact) are used to great effect. While the music can be melodic and easy-going, it can at other times be more avant and dissonant. Generally not much 'rock' here being more classical, folk and jazz inspired with some electronics thrown in. Everything revolves around Claudio's impressive singing abilities with most of the lyrics in Italian. A few guests contribute (most of whom have worked with Milano at one point) including members of the classic Italian prog bands Area and Pholas Dactylus.

This is a 2 CD set divided into two parts. "Un Posto sicuro" has a nice melodic development and features a memorable 'chorus' part. Partly based on a traditional Japanese song. "Surabaya Johnny" is a cover of a Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill song with the lyrics in Italian. Just harp and Claudio's excellent vocal delivery. "(This Side Of) The Looking Glass" is a Peter Hammill song where the English lyrics are retained. It sounds very different than the original and Claudio recorded his parts with his head stuck in the strings of the harp. "7 AZIONI - Musica per la Carne" features Paolo Carelli of Pholas Dactylus doing narrations over Claudio's voice. Very little music at first but eventually it builds up to a primal, tribal atmosphere which features Claudio doing some impressive vocal acrobatics.

"Terra" has a full band sound and also has some of the best vocalizations on the album. Standout track. "Trittico 50 mg" has some great double-tracked vocals from Claudio - sometimes in harmony, other times in counterpoint with each other. Some interesting jazzy avant-prog style piano playing towards the end. "Johnny dei Pirati" is another Brecht/Weill song. "Secca in Festa - Lode ad Antonio Primaldo" is possibly my favourite track here. Such a simple and beautiful tune, very melodic and accessible; no avant anything here. "L'urlo ritrovato" is the longest track and features a female vocalist singing with Claudio. It also includes an actor and actress reciting lines. Generally the vocals dominate here with the music itself being more in the background until some kind of avant-jazz shows up.

Bath Salts was released at the same time as another Milano project, InSonar. Also a 2 CD set and even more diverse musically than Bath Salts (and featuring many guest musicians, some well-known to prog fans). Claudio has been involved in a few projects and groups. You never know what you're going to get from him. But one thing is for sure: you are going to get some well-performed and expertly composed music that at least attempts to sound different from everything else out there. One thing I like about Milano's work is that he is not trying to pigeonhole his music into any category. Is it prog? Is it avant-garde? Is it electronic? Is it classical? All of the above? A one of a kind artist (which the world needs more of), I will give Bath Salts 4 stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Bath Salts" is a double album release by Italian avant garde artist NichelOdeon. The album was released through Lizard Records in June 2013. "Bath Salts" was both released as a "stand alone" double album release, but also as a split box set release with "L'Enfant et le Ménure (2013)" (also a double album release) by fellow Italian avant garde act InSonar. NichelOdeon was founded in 1997 by singer/composer Claudio Milano and the early compositions of the project have been used during theatre shows, dance exhibitions, short feature films, video installations, performance and expositions, in the form of a recital entitled "The room plays what I do not see", but it wasn´t until 2007 that he added other musicians to the project and began releasing music.

"Bath Salts" is comprised of a varity of musical styles and features both original compositions and cover tracks of Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill and a cover of "(This Side of) The Looking Glass" by Peter Hammill (Van der Graaf Generator). The music is centered around the passionate and skillfully executed (predominantly) Italian language vocals by Claudio Milano (there are occasional female vocals on the album too). His delivery is quite intense varying between whispering, screaming, semi-operatic parts and cabaret style singing/talking. There are lots of more "regular" sounding vocal sections in the music too, but the vocals are generally quite dramatic. The tracks are theatrical but mostly not in a bombastic epic fashion, but more in a storytelling type fashion, which of course works well within the concept album format of "Bath Salts" (lyrically about "cannibalism in interpersonal relationships"). For the most part the music is relatively accessible considering that NichelOdeon are usually considered an avant garde act. This is not easy listening material in any way though and you´ll almost surely find yourself challenged by the complexity and atmosphere of the compositions (a track like "Trittico 50 mg" is for example rather complex). The instrumenation are for the most part subtle. There´s sparse use of percussion, so mostly it´s string instruments playing with vocals on top. There´re occasional use of piano and flute too.

The musicianship is clearly on a very high level. Some of the things that Claudio Milano does with his voice are not heard very often and requires great skill. The rest of the players are obviously skilled too. "Bath Salts" also feature a very well sounding production and overall it´s a quality release. Unfortunately my limited knowledge of the Italian language (which is pretty much limited to ciao, grazie and pizza) results in me missing the lyrical message and with music this focused on vocals and lyrics, that´s of course a bit of an issue when evaluating the album. I´m still fully able to enjoy the album, but I can´t help feeling like I´m missing a crucial part of the musical puzzle. So bearing that in mind my 3.5 star (70%) rating is to be taken with a grain of salt.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars Claudio Milano is certainly one of the most talented vocalists i've come across in my years of listening to music. Some would say he's the modern day Demitrio Stratus since his vocals can range over seven octaves. If you doubt that then check out his solo album called "Adython" that really blew me away. This particular record is a double album and a concept recording at that. Two dynamics that usually do not work well for me as i've explained many times in the past. My first impressions of this work was that the vocals have taken on more of the focus compared with their previous album called "Il Gioco Del Silenzio". I really enjoy that record and gave it a solid 4 stars even though it was a little too long at 79 minutes, I must admit though that it was consistant regardless. This one is over 25 minutes longer than that, and I feel that consistancy has been compromised.

Disc one begins with "Prologo" as we are blessed with a pleasant and mellow instrumental. "Un Posto Sicuro" continues that relaxed sound but with reserved vocals. This continues throughout surprisingly including some flute. It's not until late in "Ricordo D'Infanzia" that we hear the theatrical vocals of Claudio. This continues in "Surabaya Johnny" and the music is still laid back up to this point. Interesting that we get a cover of Peter Hammill's "(This Side Of) The Looking Glass" from his "Over" album. This version certainly is more experimental and theatrical. "7 AZIONI (Musica Per La Carne)" is a highlight from disc one with those vocals and Avant background. I must admit I found disc one a little tough going.

Disc two begins with "Terra" with an eerie atmosphere and the vocals to match. This is better. I like that we get some drums and guitar standing out later. The next two tracks continue to be slower paced and difficult for me to appreciate. "Trittico 50 Mg" is also slow going but the vocals are entertaining. It sounds much better later when the intrumental work becomes the focus. We get two more reserved tunes then the almost 13 minute "L'Urlo Ritrovato". I really feel that the lyrics must be important to this album as we get another slower paced track with the focus on the vocals.There's some cool experimental stuff later in this song though. The remaining tracks continue in the same manner.

For me this doesn't come close to being as good as "Il Gioco Del Silenzio" but i'm sure many will like this better especially if your into concept albums that focus on the vocals. I just found that the instrumental work took a back seat here unlike their previous album where the band impressed me greatly.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars NicholOdeon present this double CD treat with a 48 page booklet featuring striking paintings and an odd assortment of artwork; visual poetry by Effe Luciani and photos by Andrea Corbellini. The 2 CD package of "Bath Salts" comes with the delightful addition of In Sonar's 2 albums "L'Enfant et le Menure", and "Ashima", all wrapped up with string in an elegant autographed handmade box, that has a black texture and green shimmering lipstick; each as unique as the next. This is an original idea and certainly catches the attention even before the music begins. The art in particular is wonderful and seems to be symbolic of the content within. This is a mammoth project by instigator visionary Claudio Milano, who is joined by a plethora of talented musicians; Raoul Moretti, Pierangelo PANdiscia, Vincenzo Zitello, with Michel Delville (The Wrong Object), Walter Calloni, Paolo Tofani, Valerio Cosi, Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo (Larsen), Alfonso Santimone, Stefano Delle Monache, Elio Martusciello, Paolo Carelli, Lorenzo Sempio, Max Pierini, Andrea Breviglieri, Andrea Murada, Massimo Falascone, Sebastiano de Gennaro (Baustelle), Giorgio Tiboni, Laura Catrani, Valentina Illuminati, Ivano La Rosa, Luca Pissavini, Alessandro Parilli, Francesco Chiapperini, Andrea Quattrini, Fabrizio Carriero, Anna Caniglia, Marco Confalonieri, Simone Pirovano, Simone Beretta. Milano states that the album is: "A concept audio book about cannibalism in interpersonal relationships. 5 Decades of Italian (but not only) avant garde music under the same sky (32 musicians). A contemporary minstrel enchanted by Brecht/Artaud/Beckett/Ágota Kristóf. A grounded bridge between sound, literature, visual arts and theatre." It certainly is a unique visual experience.

"Bath Salts" opens on CD 1 'Capitolo 1 D'Amore e di Vuoto' with 'Prologo' featuring chiming Celtic harp that sprinkles the atmosphere with an angelic fragrance. The Italian vocals are handled with aplomb by Milano, with a tinge of sadness and melancholy. A haunting melody follows on 'Un Posto sicuro' peppered by Electrocaustic harp, Santoor and Alto Sax. The music wanders along aimlessly like a lost soul searching for meaning, and the mournful vocals are unsettling and alienating. 'Ricordo d'Infanzia' is a minimalist piece driven by lilting harp (6:23) and Milano's aching soulful voice. There is a disquieting ending with chilling shrieks, ethereal wind and guttural deep resonances.

The harp takes on a heavenly quality on 'Surabaya Johnny' and there is a distinct time signature change. Again it is minimalist with Milano's voice overpowering and a lonely musical accompaniment, no drums, just harp. Milano has a field day on this reaching high register falsetto, and octave changes from low to high effortlessly. 'Bolle' features a cacophony of string instruments such as Viola, Marimba, Cello and Harp in turn as Milano sings with true power. I love the instrumentation here as they compete against each other and yet have an appealing dissonance.

'Rapporto sulla Fine di una Storia' has a quirky melody, still off kilter and the odd assortment of instrumentations and vocals is akin to Magma's sound. There are some unsettling piano phrases and really weird effects on this as well as overlaid musings and vocalisations that take this one to another level of dementia.

'(This Side of) The Looking Glass' is a piece written by Peter Hammill so it is of interest in particular to a VDGG addict such as myself. It has that existentialist feel that Hammill exudes and is as disturbing in content as the rest of these tracks. The English vocals made it more pleasant for me as I could at least comprehend what it is all about such as "I am left to pass these nights alone." The song is about coping with madness and perhaps signifies the rest of the album. It is again a depressing soundscape about emptiness, isolation and the human condition.

'Desiderio nascosto' has delightful harp and Cello played by Zitello, and Milano reaches his falsetto range to create an ambient atmosphere of beauty. AZIONI - Musica per la Carne has an array of percussion instruments, some of which are very rare according to the liner notes, and the sound is generated over Milano singing and some oral readings. The Italian is heavily pronounced and given a measure of passion over a mere semblance of melody. Milano moves from piercing screeches to a low guttural tone at will; the experimental vocals are at the extreme end of the scale when it comes to Avant RIO, anything but pleasant listening and this is intentional. 'Giulia - nata in 7 Mesi, morta al primo Appuntamento' closes CD 1 with harps and bass flutes, a gorgeous resonance. The peaceful atmosphere is relaxing to the soul after the dissonance previously. Moretti is a master musician on harp and really shines beautifully. Zitello joins on Alto and bass Flute as the tempo quickens and the track becomes more intense. The flute solo at the end is exquisite, and this is easily my favourite piece on CD 1.

CD 2 'Capitolo II. Di Guerre e Rinascite' begins with 'Terra' stands out as it features a woman's vocals towards the end, and the track has a hissing sound with some ghostly reverberations, and a definite measured cadence. Again it feels like a Magma sound, though without the incessant drums of Vander dominating. The rattling on the track is made by rattling nails, and this is an enhancement that provides a deeply disturbing soundscape.

'Alla Statua dei Martiri di Gorla' is a lengthy track at 9:23 driven by harp and deep Cello vibrations. There are even stone slab sounds thrown in and some slices of violin. The track goes on for quite a duration and takes some patience as there is very little variation. 'Fuoco Amico - mai N.A.T.O.' has a delightful Cello rasping as we hear Milano reach a low growl and then launch into high register.

'Trittico 50 mg' has some odd percussion and irregular rhythms with a multilayered vocal from Milano at either end of the octave scale. The harmony oddly enough has a hypnotic power. It becomes a bit heavy to handle in places but I love when the piano comes in with a strong staccato melody, sounding Avant classical. 'Johnny dei Pirati' is dominated by harp, has a Japanese sound, and Milano is a constant presence on emotive Italian vocals. The E- bow Guitar has an interesting sound on this.

'Secca in Festa - Lode ad Antonio Primaldo' is perhaps my favourite track on CD 2 as it has a gorgeous melody, a beautiful musical accompaniment and Milano sounding pleasant. 'L'Urlo ritrovato' is the longest piece clocking in at 12:45, and it is driven by floating swathes of violin and harp that keep an irregular pattern over Milano's vocalisations. When the female operatic voice chimes in I was delighted as it made such a difference to the atmosphere. Laura Catrani has a sweet tone in her voice with a sensual quality that is haunting. This is a very complex track even featuring some odd readings from some actors that must have meaning but I have no idea what they are saying, so I feel I am missing the point here. Having an avid interest in theatre, this missing piece of the puzzle is tantalising, so I must find out what it is about. The way the actors are carrying on, moaning, laughing, and arguing and even arousing one another, has a very ethereal atmosphere as we hear some eerie music. I can guess it is a break up between lovers or they have perhaps gone mad; the music itself has the atmosphere of an asylum.

'Un Posto sicuro #2' has a steady cadence, with violins and harps taking over. 'Finale - Ninna Nanna' features an angelic harp, wire chimes, Japanese flute and Sax drone, so unsurprisingly sounds very oriental and it is distinctly calming to the senses. The album closes with 'Portami un Fiore', a short piece with bleating vocals and more minimalist music with harps, viola and electronics; an unsettling sound that screeches and has an ominous timbre. The album ends on a note that not all ends well; the descent into madness is complete.

Like a lot of RIO or Avant Prog I found this to be a very challenging experience and at times grating on the nerves; though if I knew Italian the experience would obviously have more meaning. It was fun to put my own meaning to the music. There are passages of beauty and mesmirising moments particularly on harp and strings that are heavenly for the most part. Milano has a keen sense of the theatrical in his vocal resonations, emotive falsetto battling with his low growl, acutely Italian flavours and taunting experimental sounds. The conceptual project has some dreamy, gentle nuances, that swoon over in the instrumental sections and then break out into odd angular rhythms; and with Milano's vocal presence it is evident that this is an album dripping with passion and highly charged emotive power. The degree of high strangeness may or may not be to the average listener's taste but the music is designed for those with an attuned ear to dissonance and discordance rather than a commercial standard sound. It is an acquired taste in essence, completely out of the box, however it is certainly an original approach from NichelOdeon; guaranteed to inspire many artists venturing into the murky territory of disturbing RIO soundscapes.

Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
3 stars A long look into the untempered schism.

Claudio Milano and Nichelodeon return in a glorious fashion with the double CD offering entitled Bath Salts. Some people will say this is very apt title, as to conceive music like this one would have to be on bath salts, or some other wild, unnatural, hallucinatory drug. Other people will say that's the only way to enjoy such outside work. Still other people will be able to enjoy something like this and be captivated by its evolution, its depth, its development, its scope, and its fine attention to audio detail. I would fall into this last category.

The first thing that is clearly noticeable just after starting the CD is the wondrous production work on display here. Nichelodeon have always been a band of subtlety. Nuances are buried deep within the sonic architecture of each piece. Needless to say, having poor production in an instance like this would be akin to a death knell to the creative aspects explored in such projects. The sound is warm, inviting, all encompassing, and never faltering throughout both CDs. The second element that jumped out at me, is the sheer amount of studio/electronic trickery and manipulation that went into this work. Seemingly every cog in the wheel gets processed in some way at some point of the show. Some might say it's a bit overdone, but it fits perfected with the mood of the music and almost gives a futuristic edge to the overall project. (As a note, I am a huge fan of when musicians utilize the studio, almost as an instrument, so my enthusiasm for such deployments may not be universally shared or supported as such.)

Musically, this album is a virtual tapestry of emotions and atmospheres. Bath Salts runs the gamut from dreamy to silly to ominous to meditative to playful to sacred to expressionistic to mischievous to melancholic to mysterious to calming without ever feeling forced or campy or unnecessary. As Nichelodeon's previous work, the clear star of the show is Claudio Milano and his impressive, ever invasive vocals. These vocals are supported by a myriad of instrumental accompaniments...tinkling pianos, percolating percussions, stark woodwinds, slick yet chaotic electronics, and classically laced strings. In fact, it is difficult to say which instruments get the lead, as they all tend to be used fairly equally in this musical undercurrent. Harps mesh with cellos, while pianos and synths bubble up, all the which is being supported by ever-turning percussives (with Claudio's voice flowing like a strong river atop). For me, this is when the album works best, when all the elements are working together to create another world of sound exploration. This is best personified by tracks like Rapporto sulla Fine di una Storia , 7 AZIONI - Musica per la Carne, and L'Urlo ritrovato. Still though, this is a vocal showcase at its core with one of the best and most expressive vocalists in the game today. The full range of vocal utterances are on display here, 'standard' singing, experimental sound generation, sputtering, crooning, chanting, multilayered colleges, whispering, and general derangements...all which occur in a tremendous octave range. And finally, it must be said that if there is a story being displayed through the use of all these vocals it is lost of this reviewer whose knowledge of the Italian language is quite subpar. However, this allows me to appreciate the vocals on a purely musical level (which is how I prefer vocals to be) and is probably a plus, as I'm sure this is must more of the intent of the project than the standard 'telling a story' or 'relaying poetry' use of the voice.

All in all, this is a very solid album. Its main drawback to me is it's length. This is a two CD set that lasts for over 105 minutes. While the moods and atmospheres are ever changing, the approach and execution is very constant throughout the album (especially in terms of tempos), which at times does get overwhelming (or underwhelming depending on how you want to look at it). Also, there are a few pieces that get a bit too instrumentally submissive to really satisfy my ears. Additionally, for the purposes of this website, the rock element is usually not present, and when it does break through it doesn't last for long. All that said, for those aurally adventurous this is certainly an album to seek out. Nichelodeon was never one to play it safe or stay inside a certain box. This album does brave the waters on the fringes of avant-garde (at it's most extreme) yet still provides comforting melodies and traditional musical instruments and modes (at it's least extreme). Is this destined to become a classic of outside music? It is certainly possible, but only time will tell with such things. Fans of modern avant-garde music and extreme voice albums will find plenty to enjoy on Bath Salts. Strict fans of neo-prog or more standardized rock will find this to be unlistenable noise (even though there are parts that are clearly hummable/memorable). On my personal scale this is a solid 3.5, which I will round down for PA. A strong 3 stars.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Italian ensemble NICHELODEON was formed back in 1997, with vocalist and composer Claudio Milano as the band leader. Their debut album appeared in 2008, and since then Nichelodeon has released a further three albums, both live and studio productions. "Bath Salts" is their most recent release, and this double CD studio production was issued through the Italian label Lizard Records in the summer of 2013.

Nichelodeon's double album "Bath Salts" is an impressive constellation of compositions celebrating the role of the lead vocals and the possibilities you have in using them as a standalone dominating element or in constellations with one or more supporting voices to create stunning music even with minimalistic instrument support only. The use of vocal effects, the manner in which vocals and instruments are utilized, and the structure and overall arrangements of the compositions most often do take them to a place well outside common or mainstream music, I might add, if there is such a thing as minimalistic avant-garde I'd place this album within such a context. Especially if there is a subcategory there for material that references classical and, on occasion, medieval folk music. First and foremost this production is a sheer vocal delight however, and if you enjoy stellar lead vocals, avant-garde rock and chamber music you should find this double album to be a true delight.

Review by Guldbamsen
4 stars Beneath the surface

Funny how such mundane and everyday words like bath salts suddenly can take on another meaning altogether. A little while back there was an incident in Miami, where a poor homeless man got his face bitten off by a drug fuelled raving lunatic, who indeed was tripping like an angry bear on the now infamous drug: bath salts. Since then 100s of videos have popped on YouTube relegating arbitrary people on this terrifying drug - most of them looking like they're on fire, possessed by some demon or merely trying to escape their earthly prison, clawing away at their own flesh like was it thick evil goo in the process of poisoning everything it comes in contact with.

I then read Claudio Milano's lyrics to 'Bath Salts' and found an extremely intelligent man asking questions about our nature - our human nature, or conversely the lack of it when confronted by the great big wheels of the world......the things that stem from cold machine feelings and parameters set up by ancient peoples trying their best to keep everything in check and that means people too. So there's a sadness here - a pensive mind eating away at the facial layers of our society, how we choose to succumb to rules, ideas and the things we don't understand.....and in the midst of all this, we're in serious danger of losing ourselves and the things that make us human. We erase the child and order a new person - an adult fixed and ready to go surfing in the huge big boy world, where everything depends on everything else, and nothing is as clear cut and real like it used to be.

Swish! Twinkling harp rivers of sound that stream and twirl oh so beautifully and naturally, you simply get transported into the grand scope of Italy's immense musical universe - 1000s of famous landscape paintings zoom through your brain, and then he opens his mouth.....

Claudio Milano is not so much a singer as he is an instrument made out of flesh. To tell you the truth, I was actually approaching this offering thinking it would sound like modern rocking avant music, but what I found in it's place was an overpowering sense of frailty and natural beauty. Claudio's often compared to the infamous Area front man Demetrio Stratos, because of his incredible talent to sing controllably in 8 different octaves. As I have found out while swapping emails with the man in question, his real and most important influence is actually Tim Buckley. Now that struck a chord with me, when he said that. I suddenly realised the frailty of the voice, the sometimes strangely wavering tonalities of his timbre, all of that sounded very much influenced by Buckley, only with Claudio you get a far more velvety delivery. Whether that's down to the beautiful Italian language, or the immense technical talent of his, I really don't know.......but there is something here folks, I'll tell ya. If you're sick of munching on the same ol same ol - in dire need of a healthy kick up your arse, then look no further, because this album will take you places in Italy you haven't even dreamed of.

I believe the progressive prog stopped a long while ago and somewhere along the line it morphed into a sticker that we nowadays interpret as music with mellotron, shape-shifts, solos and a mystic aura about it that peeps right into your soul. Well maybe not stopped completely, but if we're looking for the brand new and (sic) progressive, then why do we insist on looking in the same places as we always do? We certainly won't find 'Bath Salts' sporting any of the aforementioned holy essences of prog rock........but you find the spark. You find the same urge to make music that stretches people's sonic beliefs and will to embrace the alien. Make you think and experience something you take for granted and make you see things from a new place. Music is always ready to mislead you, and if you're wise you should allow it every chance you get.

Strange thing.....I mean music that can have this effect on me being this.....erm orchestrated. Maybe it's the supernatural surge of the vocals that entrances you with this album, but I'd like to think it's more than that. There is an immense dream world lurking in the instruments - something that takes on the form of ambient music, often put up against Claudio's slithering voice. Maybe this is more of a chamber music kinda deal? With marimbas and xylophones, acoustic string instruments and a frivolous and almost classically structured folk element in the mix, the music moves from intimate shimmers to the widest panoramic musical scenery known to man........and then I haven't even begun to mention the electronics in play - or the wonderful bass booms of the cellos.

'Bath Salts' is like opening up a musical box. It spins gracefully on it's own axis while relegating this beautiful feathery music that pirouettes and twinkles away like silver and gold and everything worth fighting for.

"Is there anyone now who can bite my beauty? Is there anyone now who can suck my beauty? Is there anyone now who can lick my beauty?"

Maybe we're so far gone that cannibalism is the last resort to really get under people's skin? To me personally, 'Bath Salts' feels like a modern voice of reason - beckoning people from deep beneath the ice - calling on them to break through the dark mirror and penetrate down into the murky waters. Dive head first into what drives us and feeds us, instead of merely perpetuating the everlasting ice- skating procedures that look oh so pretty and meaningful.........yet never describe anything about the true nature of what's hiding underneath. In that respect, you could say that 'Bath Salts' tries to reintroduce it's audience to the chilly waters slushing away under the ice like forgotten dreams and cobwebs of the mind. It wants you to see past the big hand gestures and feel the music for what it is.....and maybe in the process we'll be able to transcribe this method of experiencing life to other facets of our world.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Bath Salts' - NichelOdeon (74/100)

What is the strangest musical instrument? Some might quickly tell you it's the theremin or the kazoo- fringey musical tools that sound downright alien (or hilarious, respectively speaking) to the untrained ear. A few might even go a step further and bring up a range of rare and 'invented' instruments. I think the relative truth is much simpler. The strangest musical instrument is, without a doubt, the human voice. It's understandable why that notion's so commonly overlooked; even the best singers usually only use a fraction of their voice's potential.

I think Claudio Milano's art stems from this willingness to push those boundaries and explore the untapped potential trapped behind the veil of conventional singing. NichelOdeon's Bath Salts is minimalist in most other sense; with most of the backing instrumentation left up to harps and similarly subdued palette, plenty of room is available for Milano's to exercise every nook of his vocal chords.

The result of this oddly obsessive style is one of the weirdest albums I have heard in a long time. While it's well- possible that NichelOdeon were influenced in part by Italy's longstanding progressive rock scene (this was the expectation I had of the album going into it), the only significant crossover between this and RPI conventions are the vocals themselves; Italy's experimental music scene has always had a tendency to favour vocal theatrics, and NichelOdeon are no different. Claudio Milano's voice is emotive and wonderfully operatic; it's not a stretch to imagine him performing his part on stage before a crowded theatre.

The biggest initial surprise in NichelOdeon's sound is how subdued most of the instrumentation is. Although the music occasionally takes an unexpected turn (hear: the percussive jazz break towards the end of " L'Urlo ritrovato" ) most of the music is performed with the lightest of instruments; most significantly. There is rhythmic energy on Bath Salts. There were many times throughout the album where I felt like I was listening to a resonant harp performance in some Medieval court or tavern; other times- when more lavish strings came into play- it sounds like Milano is singing atop a classical chamber group. That only accounts for a part of NichelOdeon's work on Bath Salts, too. Clocking in at well over an hour and a half, it would be tedious to have taken note of every stylistic hiccup and detour. With regards to the album's overall impression, it should be enough to say that while the instrumentation is never bold enough to compete for the listener's attention, NichelOdeon echo enough variations on classical, jazz and ambient music to keep it charming, even if it sounds too restrained to have kept my attention without the voice of Claudio.

As Bath Salts goes on, the music becomes darker, more experimental; NichelOdeon don't stray far from the 'medieval-chic' instrumentation, but Claudio Milano's vocals become increasingly strained. On the first disc (Capitolo I. D'Amore e di Vuoto) Claudio is soft and warm, with dramatic heights ascending, only to reel in again. Capitolo II. Di Guerre e Rinascite is more experimental. There are times on the latter half where Claudio conjures his inner Mike Patton; familiar RPI-variety operatic vocals give way to a manner of overlapping screams, disharmonies and disjointed sprechgesang. The instrumentation never achieves a fraction of the same energy as the vocals, but NichelOdeon left many of their most jarring ideas for the final act.

While I love Capitolo I, the more challenging approach on the latter half actually holds the album back. True to Mike Patton traditions (if you're ever in the mood to listen to the worst album ever by the way, check out his Adult Themes for Voice) the screechy vocalizations wear out their welcome quickly. Claudio Milano is one of the best operatic singers operating within an experimental context, but no amount of vision or talent can make it enjoyable to listen to someone sound like they're choking on their own tongue.

It should go without saying, but Bath Salts is far longer than it rightly should have been. Despite the eclectic range of sounds, the ambient mood of most of it makes it sound a lot less diverse than it really is. Even having heard Bath Salts multiple times, I can't believe that over thirty musicians took part on it. It may just as well be considered the work of one man. Claudio Milano's voice is a treasure, and most of the album rides on that strength. Just like Peter Hammill (whom Claudio tributes in a cover of Van der Graaf Generator's "The Looking Glass" on the first disc) Milano is a vocalist who treats his voice like a full-fledged instrument. Even if I'm not thrilled by the album's more technical excesses, his voice is such that dozens of backing musicians cannot hope to trump it.

In the end, I'm not sure how to classify this unique expression. A deconstruction of Italian prog? 'Avant-ambient'. maybe? This is a beautiful album for the most part, but it's not for the faint of heart.

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