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CLARION

Crossover Prog • Italy


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Clarion biography
CLARION's material is very close to new age, with just enough prog touches to warrant the band's inclusion here. The flute plays a defining role in their style which is warm, graceful and highly melodic. CLARION was formed by two members of Italian folk-prog band ZAUBER, namely Paolo Clari on keyboards and synths, Gianni Cristiani on flute and ottavino. Other ZAUBER musicians (Liliana Bodini on vocals, Massimo Cavagliato on drums, Mauro Cavagliato on bass, electric piano and metalophone, and Oscar Giordanino on electric piano) took part in recording CLARION albums.

In addition to the lyrical flute passages, both their self-titled album "Clarion" (93) and the subsequent "Bourrée" (95) feature some strong bass, competent drums and a few ethereal and classy female vocals; the keyboards and guitars play a supporting role, here, but do step forward when called for. The album "Bourrée" also includes some classical prog tracks by BANCO, PFM and GENTLE GIANT as well as a genuine classical excerpt (SAINT-SAENS), all revisited by Cristiani's delicate flute.

Fans of ZAUBER, LATTE E MIELE and easy-listening Italian prog in general should appreciate.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :


Related bands on PA: ZAUBER, TALE

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CLARION discography


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CLARION top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 4 ratings
Clarion
1993
3.00 | 3 ratings
Bourrée
1995

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CLARION Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Bourrée by CLARION album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.00 | 3 ratings

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Bourrée
Clarion Crossover Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This album features several well known prog songs from prog giants all over Europe.

Indeed ''Bouree'' from Tull is featured. But my fave from them all is the PFM one ''Impressioni Di Settembre''. At least the vocals conveys these emotions that the Italian genre holds so many. I can't say the same about their version of ''House Of The Kings'' (from the Dutch masters ''Focus'').

Another great moment from this work is a faithful rendition of ''Hands Of The Priestess'' from Steve Hackett's masterpiece ''Voyage Of The Acolyte''. So, if you are in the mood of listening to some sort of a tribute album, why not spend some time with this one.

For sure, it holds nothing revolutionary. This is a tranquil record which is fine on a Sunday afternoon. Who wouldn't like to hear the fine Banco song ''R.I.P.''? Indeed!

Not bad a record, but I'm not quite sure it was all necessary.Three stars because it holds some of the must have of prog music.

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 Bourrée by CLARION album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.00 | 3 ratings

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Bourrée
Clarion Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars Named after its title track, itself a BACH piece but better known in these pages as a JETHRO TULL classic, this sophomore effort by Clarion contains mostly covers of esteemed progressive rock tunes, but otherwise the flute-dominated pastoral quality of the first album remains intact, even solidified. I confess I do not know all of the source works, but will do my best to give my general impression, providing comparisons where available.

While versions of FOCUS' sprightly "House of the King", and GENTLE GIANT's "Talybont" are both well crafted, the vocal performance by Leo Fiore on PFM's "Impressioni di settembre" is noteworthy because it more approximates FRANCO BATTIATO's version than anything. Here synthesizers play a more central role although the flute does cavort just below the surface. "Suoni" is a sweet flute tune originally from NOMADI that leads into the lovely rendition of AMAZING BLONDEL's "Anthem", featuring female vocals, that expands upon the original in its meter, sometimes bordering on a laissez faire sort of reggae. Fiore is back for a spirited version of BANCO's R.I.P. MIKE BATT's "Caravan song" is given a renaissance-style treatment thanks to Lilliana Bodini's voice and some plucked classical guitar. While I do have the eponymous MCDONALD AND GILES album I don't recall anything quite so well formed as "Birdman, the Reflection", which includes a mellotronic instrument of some type and supporting drums all to a vaguely dissonant flute tune.

As with the debut album, sameness creeps in with somewhat less appealing numbers later on the disk, and "Hand of the Priestess", "Umanamente uomo: il sogno", "Non son fingere", and even Clarion's own "For Absent Friends" are lacking a certain enthusiasm to carry the somewhat dour melodies. The same cannot be said for the excellent closer "Nimbleness", orginally by MYROS, in which lively flutes and oboes ring out the album in grand style.

Mostly pleasant to be sure, "Bourree" solidifies CLARION as easy listening "prog" in the broadest sense, and certainly betrays their musical influences to be familial. This is an album for a mood, an occasional distraction rather than a staple.

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 Clarion by CLARION album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.50 | 4 ratings

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Clarion
Clarion Crossover Prog

Review by NotAProghead
Special Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

4 stars Elegant

I have no idea why ZAUBER flautist Gianni Cristiani and keyboardist Paolo Clari, with the help of their bandmates, decided to start a new project, CLARION. Both bands are similar in style, the same musicians are involved, most pieces are written by ZAUBER members Mauro Cavagliato and Boris Poziakov (by the way, strange name for an Italian, perhaps he has some Russian roots, but I could not find any information of him). We may only guess why CLARION was born, but it happened and definitely not in vain - their music is full of grace and beauty.

CLARION debut album is almost pure instrumental work. There are no electric or acoustic guitars, but the sound is rich and the absence of guitars is unnoticeable. Flute and keyboards (organ, electric piano, synthesizers) are omnipresent, glockenspiel (metalophone) and harpsichord add nice colors at times, bass often plays melodic lines and, together with drums, strengthens the overall sound. Most pieces are inspired by classical, particularly baroque, music, there are also hints of jazz. The longest track, ''Rifflessioni'' (8 minutes) starts and ends as bolero, while its middle part has spacey feel.

Music is melancholic, heartfelt and full of light. Turn on your imagination and it will carry you away to some beautiful places: a sea shore (''Canzone del mare'') or an old park in the autumn, where yellow leaves are almost transparent in the sunlight (''Viviana'', my favourite piece on the album). ''Canzone del mare'' is the only vocal track, pretty simple (because even I understand it - something like ''You sing your sad song to the sea, but the sea is too big and does not hear you''), but nice. Pleasant voice of Liliana Bodini is recorded with a slight echo effect, giving you the feel of almost physical presence by the sea.

I listen to CLARION debut album quite often, but rarely look at linear notes. Now, before writing this review, I looked at the booklet and was surprised: some pieces were wriiten for theatre and rock-opera and were not initially intended for this album; the last track, ''Orgelwaltz'', was recorded in some Turin church in 1977. Despite this the album is coherent, pieces flow naturally one into another.

Very accessible album, but far from being 'music for elevators', compositions have depth. Good for listening in the background, when you are busy with something else, and good for careful listens. Highly recommended if you like CELESTE, ZAUBER (obviously), HOSTSONATEN, softer PFM songs or instrumental pieces from ''Jethro Tull Christmas Album''. Fans of ''Palepoli'' by OSANNA will probably call it too safe and cheesy. But if you are ''going slightly mad'', hold a ticket to hell (IL BIGLIETTO PER INFERNO) in your hand and are already close to destination, if death from IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO's ''Ys'' walks behind you, take a breath of fresh air in CLARION music. It will remind you once again: life is beautiful.

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 Clarion by CLARION album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.50 | 4 ratings

BUY
Clarion
Clarion Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars This is a pleasant Italian duo with a very romantic approach to prog. Their debut album showcases strong classical and jazz inflected flute and plenty of keyboards. The credits show no guitars, but I didn't miss them, because flutes often take the lead. Having said that, "Reverie" sounds like it has some electric guitar or at least electric violin! Other atypical keyboards like harpsichord also feature.

Vocals are only included on one track, "Chico Mendes", but are gracefully handled by Liliana Bodini.

This is more an album to quietly meditate to or float away on, especially so in the synthesizer dominated first part of "Canzone del mare " which eventually transforms into a retro organ solo with an element of swing that is as fun to listen to as it probably was to play. This is followed by an almost Caravan-style segment a la Land of Grey and Pink.

The main criticism of the album is that, while it might be considered progressive, for the most part it is not rock. Nothing is really jarring or abrupt here. While it takes many cues from its 70s progenitors, it strips away anything offensive from those influences, which means it takes fewer risks, and produces fewer major rewards than it might have. Put another way, Clarion suffers some of the pitfalls of the new age genre. This happens even more in the latter pieces on the album, making "Oriana" and "Endlich" weaker. Still, if you approach with eyes wide open the minor paybacks are frequent and worthwhile.

Recommended only to fans of mellow prog and/or people who appreciate good playing which doesn't necessarily ignite flames.

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