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HOSTSONATEN

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Hostsonaten biography
FINISTERRE's bass player Fabio Zuffanti released three albums of his own compositions under the name of "HOSTSONATEN". Symphonic band with the participation of FINISTERRE members. The music is pretty much on that band's style, a little less classic prog driven. Good flute passages feature on their symphonic music as well.
[ProgArchives.com]


After founding Finisterre, contributing as a major composer to the their best works, writing and recording the complex and very welcomed "Merlin - The Rock Opera", Fabio Zuffanti gives new life to the Hostsonaten project. This band is an 'open' group named after a very famous movie by Ingmar Bergman. Even if the most of the musicians he got around for the three CDs recorded under this cinema related name are the same, everything apart from Fabio can change. Hostsonaten represents Fabio's deepest love for progressive rock, jazz, folk and ethnic music. In these last years Hostsonaten is working on the 'Seasoncycle Suite' project, an ambitious concept in four parts and four cds dedicated to the four seasons. For now the third and fourth chapters ('Winterthrough' and 'Springsong') are available. The second chapter ('Autumnsymphony') is out by September 21, 2009.
[Bio from band website]

Hostsonaten official website

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HOSTSONATEN Videos (YouTube and more)


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WinterthroughWinterthrough
Import
Btf 2008
Audio CD$17.86
$17.85 (used)
AutumnsymphonyAutumnsymphony
Import
AMS Records 2009
Audio CD$17.97
$30.57 (used)
SummereveSummereve
Import
Btf 2011
Audio CD$18.46
$34.37 (used)
SpringsongSpringsong
Import
Btf 2009
Audio CD$22.08
$19.99 (used)
Rime of the Ancient Mariner 1Rime of the Ancient Mariner 1
Import
Ams Italy 2012
Audio CD$30.24
$38.31 (used)
Finisterre ProjectFinisterre Project
Mellow Records
Audio CD$23.03
$19.99 (used)
MirrorgamesMirrorgames
Import
Ams Italy 2010
Audio CD$36.59
$15.00 (used)
Rime of Ancient MariRime of Ancient Mari
Import
Imports 2014
Audio CD$46.99
$49.99 (used)
SEASONSCYCLE SUITE COMPLETE BOX(4CD+DVD)SEASONSCYCLE SUITE COMPLETE BOX(4CD+DVD)
INDIE (JAPAN)
Audio CD$160.59
SpringtidesSpringtides
Import
Mellow Records
Audio CD$21.99
$12.99 (used)
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Hostsonaten - Autumn Syphony [CD New] US $29.67 Buy It Now 20h 6m
HOSTSONATEN - AUTUMNSYMPHONY NEW CD US $35.33 Buy It Now 21h 9m
Hostsonaten-Winterthrough Italian prog mini lp cd US $19.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Hostsonaten - Spring Tides...Rare CD Album US $32.05 Buy It Now 1 day
Hostsonaten-Autumnsympony Italian prog mini lp cd US $19.99 Buy It Now 2 days
Hostsonaten-Performing Rime of the Ancient live Italian prog mini lp cd + DVD US $29.99 Buy It Now 2 days
Summereve by Hostsonaten (CD, Apr-2011) US $36.19 Buy It Now 5 days
HOSTSONATEN - SPRINGSONG - NEW CD US $21.56 Buy It Now 8 days
Fabio Zuffanti- Same [La Maschera Di Cera,Hostsonaten] US $19.99 Buy It Now 9 days
Fabio Zuffanti- La Foce Del Ladrone(Finisterre, Hostsonaten, La Maschera di Cera US $19.99 Buy It Now 9 days
HOSTSONATEN - WINTERTHROUGH (MINI LP SLEEVE) NEW CD US $39.64 Buy It Now 9 days
HOSTSONATEN-AUTUMNSYMPHONY CD NEW US $30.45 Buy It Now 10 days
Hostsonaten - Winterthrough [CD New] US $38.33 Buy It Now 10 days
Hostsonaten-Summereve Italian prog mini lp cd US $19.99 Buy It Now 11 days
Autumnsymphony * by Hostsonaten (CD, Oct-2009, AMS) US $27.34 Buy It Now 14 days
HOSTSONATEN - SUMMEREVE - NEW CD US $33.12 Buy It Now 15 days
HOSTSONATEN - AUTUMNSYMPHONY * - NEW CD US $27.26 Buy It Now 15 days
Hostsonaten- springtides, NEW CD(Finisterre- Maschera di cera, fabio zuffanti) US $16.99 Buy It Now 16 days
Hostsonaten-Springsong Italian prog mini lp cd US $19.99 Buy It Now 18 days
Hostsonaten-The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Italian prog mini lp cd US $19.99 Buy It Now 19 days
FINISTERRE, LIVE.. (La Maschera Di Cera,Hostsonaten, Fabio Zuffanti) US $16.99 Buy It Now 21 days
LA MASCHERA DI CERA- LE PORTE DEL DOMANI (VINYL-LP) HOSTSONATEN-FINISTERRE) US $29.99 Buy It Now 21 days
Hostsonaten - Springsong [CD New] US $24.09 Buy It Now 21 days
HOSTSONATEN - SPRINGSONG (MINI LP SLEEVE) NEW CD US $39.64 Buy It Now 21 days
Hostsonaten "Mirrorgames" cd US $28.89 Buy It Now 25 days
Hostsonaten - Summereve [CD New] US $35.39 Buy It Now 26 days
HOSTSONATEN - SUMMEREVE (MINI LP SLEEVE) NEW CD US $39.64 Buy It Now 27 days
Springsong-Papersleeve Cover - Hostsonaten New & Sealed Compact Disc Free Shippi US $38.34 Buy It Now 28 days

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HOSTSONATEN discography


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

3.73 | 66 ratings
Hostsonaten
1997
3.49 | 61 ratings
Mirrorgames
1998
3.84 | 79 ratings
Springsong
2002
3.98 | 119 ratings
Winterthrough
2008
3.96 | 91 ratings
Autumn Symphony
2009
3.94 | 259 ratings
Summereve
2011
3.85 | 154 ratings
The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner - Chapter One
2012

HOSTSONATEN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

HOSTSONATEN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.75 | 4 ratings
Alive In Theatre
2013

HOSTSONATEN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.70 | 12 ratings
Springtides (A Collection of Rare & Unreleased Tracks 1992-2002 )
2004

HOSTSONATEN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

HOSTSONATEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Alive In Theatre by HOSTSONATEN album cover DVD/Video, 2013
3.75 | 4 ratings

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Alive In Theatre
Hostsonaten Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Progulator

3 stars Being a fan of the various projects of Fabio Zuffanti, I was very excited to recently get my hands on a copy of Hostsonaten's latest, a live CD/DVD combo entitled Alive in Theater. For those unfamiliar with Hostsonaten, you'll find many similar tendencies to MdC in that it clearly resides within the domain of symphonic prog and has a strong focus on the development of motifs to propel the album forward song after song. Fans of the band can expect a live recording worth picking up in the form of this latest release, performed, recorded, and filmed at Teatro Verdi in Genoa, Italy.

First and foremost, I would like to say that I primarily consider this a live album package with the DVD as a bonus rather than the focus. I give two reasons: firstly, in my opinion, the mini- lp style packaging rather than a DVD case hints that this is first and foremost a CD release. Secondly, while the DVD is very enjoyable to watch, the filming is not so stylized as many modern concert film releases (mostly a camera fixed at the back of the room alternating with one towards the side). The overall impression when viewing, therefore is more akin to sitting in the concert hall watching the performance from a fixed position rather than the numerous techniques of zoom, pan, close-ups, etc. that we might normally associate with a concert film. In terms of the audio CD, what we get is a very well recorded and produced live performance, in fact, one that is superior to the album version, which is saying a lot.

That said, the DVD is a solid bonus and very enjoyable due to the fact that it presents a visual addition to the artistic impact of the music by way of costumes and dancers. The fact that it drew my attention to particular singers and really allowed me to visualize them as characters, not just a voices, made for a much deeper listening experience. For example, seeing the entrance of the winged albatross and Corvaglia directing the tale to the wedding guest provided a very nice image to the sounds of Zuffanti's band. As the tale progresses and the icebergs slide out onto the stage it's quite fun to see him tell of the Mariner's travails in a sea of darkness just prior to the emergence of Simona Angiolini (the Albatross) in a ray of light as she descends as a symbol of the Mariner's luck. Seeing the young Mariner then emerge to slay the Albatross to the backdrop of Corvaglia's heartfelt/lamentful vocals was quite the powerful moment, if I do say so myself.

There were a number of other highlights from the stage production as well. Gianmarco Farne did a solid job presenting a young Mariner that was brash and controlling, and his solo at the end of "Part 2" was phenomenal as he passionately built a repeating motif which culminated visually in the Mariner having the Albatross hung on his neck, as represented by the dancers actually laying Angiolini on his burdened back. However, the highlight of the film for me was to be found in "Part 4" as Simona Angioloni takes center stage as soloist. Angioloini brilliantly portrayed her part as the Albatross, delivering a performance that was passionate in movement, expression, and interactions with other characters, at times desperate, and always emphasizing the narrative/interpretive aspect of the role. As if this wasn't enough, the shift to a dramatic and peaceful entrance of the Moon, as played by Carlotta Ferre, who capitalizes on dramatic movements and serenity of costuming, coupled with the band's powerful return, full of Mellotron choirs and slow but driving rhythm, all ensured that the production would go out with a bang.

If I have any complaints, it would be that the togetherness of the dancers was inconsistent at times, but then again, there were many great moments and the quality of audio for the live recording is superb in and of itself. In fact, I would dare say that in terms of audio this version sounds much huger and more alive than the original studio recording. Fans of the album certain should not miss out on this performance.

Overall I would certainly recommend this release to fans of symphonic prog, particularly those with an interest in the Italian scene. Not only would I say that in terms of a live CD it is exceptional, but many of us pretentious prog nerds certainly enjoy anything and everything that bands do to push their art beyond the mundane. In this case Mr. Zuffanti has gone above and beyond to call of duty and actually assembled a very enjoyable production, and hopefully continues to do more of this sort of thing in the future.

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 The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner - Chapter One by HOSTSONATEN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.85 | 154 ratings

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The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner - Chapter One
Hostsonaten Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Progulator

3 stars Time and time again I am realizing that Zuffanti is as good as gold. With so many projects that span so many different styles, it's hard to get bored when plunging into his discography. What he offers us with his newest Hostonaten release is an epic concept album based on Colerige's classic poem that is jammed packed with most everything you could want. The arrangements and instrumentations are amazing, bringing everything from classical guitar, to piano, violin, and of course, tons and tons of mellotron used in the most effective of ways. But, what makes this album stand out for me is the masterful use of melody and theatricality. The vocals and narrative approach remind me a bit of Ainur mixed with a lot of Peter Gabriel era genesis, however, this is no Genesis rip off. With Hostsonaten, Zuffanti combines the early Genesis feel with the best of classic Italian prog and what I consider to be a Scandinavian type sensibility for the mellotron (even though he's Italian). Once again, a huge applause to Mr. Zuffanti for yet another great album; I'd imagine most symphonic prog fans will love this. Plus, for those Iron Maiden fanboys out there looking for some more Rime of the Ancient Mariner, here's where you stop looking and start basking in the glory.

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 Alive In Theatre by HOSTSONATEN album cover DVD/Video, 2013
3.75 | 4 ratings

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Alive In Theatre
Hostsonaten Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars With some regret, I have to admit that I never got around to picking up the most recent Hostsonaten studio album `The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', an interpretation of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's classic poem. I've always enjoyed Fabio Zuffanti's reflective and sublime instrumental project and their albums such as `Winterthrough', and when I read that album was very vocal heavy, I kind of dismissed it. So when an announcement arrived that this work would be released as a live concert DVD, and a theatrical ballet/dance accompaniment at that, I decided this would give me more incentive to explore this work further. So not only do you get to see and hear a bunch of talented current Italian progressive players in action (many who have been involved in numerous outstanding modern RPI works), but you also witness Susanna Tagliapetra's simple, restrained and effective stage direction that compliments the soundtrack perfectly.

Instrumental opener `Prologue' is equally bombastic and classically grand, frantic and uptempo one minute, sedate and reflective the next. Full of whirring synths, imperial Mellotron and grand gothic piano, it gives an early taste of the supreme keyboard flavour that Luca Scherani plies all over this performance. Then it's straight into `Part One', which is very comparable to the most recent La Maschera di Cera album `Le Porte Del Demani', not surprisingly as this 13 minute section features the same raspy, dominating vocals of Alessandro Corvaglia. Weeping violin, soaring electric guitar solos that climb to the skies, marching drumbeat tension, a haunting piano solo in the middle and a darkly dramatic pained vocal outro comprise with wondrous piece, as well as a lovely reprise of one of the winning themes from the opening introduction track. Drifting acoustic guitar, heavenly piano, sprightly grinding time changes and Gianmarco Farne's strident vocals highlight `Part Two', with plenty of spiraling Moog solos, intimidating Mellotron blasts and a chest-beating finale.

`Interlude', a newly written piece that was not included on the original studio album, begins with the same pleasant tones of Camel's `Snow Goose' before a dark unsettling piano passage and wilting violin bring some dark gothic classical romantic atmosphere.

The soothing vocals of Marco Dogliotti purr around a grand electric guitar theme, gentle flute and a sprinkling of thoughtful piano in `Part Three', before unleashing in a more bombastic and booming direction not unlike fellow Italian band Quasar Lux Symphonie's `Abraham: One Act Rock Opera'. Marco's voice turns shrieking (worryingly sounding close to Pain of Salvation's Daniel Gildenlow in a few spots) and the music grows wild and unhinged, a pumping beat, searing violin and devastating keyboard soloing tearing through. This is the part of the production that drifts the closest to outright heavy rock. A placid flute solo from Joanne Roan and melodic yet restrained bass soloing from Fabio calm the piece down again, before wrapping on walls of majestic Mellotron and exploding deranged synths over hearty vocals and a soaring guitar theme. Running water over a sobering accordion solo and the slightest of ambient synths open `Part Four', with a creeping piano, morbid violin and an eerie Peter Gabriel circa `Nursery Cryme'-era Genesis female vocal from Simona Angioloni ensures this finale is quite uneasy listening. The rising violin/piano section that follows is highly emotional with Simona's voice full of longing and desperation. The slow- building sedate piano build before the regal Mellotron and vocal choir climax is expertly performed and ends the show in a suitably epic and overblown way befitting a show of this stature.

Although you get the audio CD of the show with this package, the real selling point is the captivating theatrical stage footage recorded at the Teatro Verdi in Genoa. Through the dancers, alternating singers and the band (placed off to the side, but always easily seen), the performance successfully translates the story, allowing the viewer to visualize the magic words and music of the poem through multimedia elements, dance and stage actions. However the bonus backstage feature is a letdown, consisting of a barely four minute collage, first of the crew/band/performers setting up, and then an annoying two minute mix of them all screaming directly into the camera, `warming up' for the show no doubt, but it doesn't mean we want to watch more than 5 seconds of it! Sorry, this is a very minor and petty criticism though!

Sadly, there are just a couple of factors that do let this ambitious project down slightly. The biggest offense of all is the use of the English language. The Italian language is one of the defining characteristics of proper RPI music, and it would have worked beautifully here, considering how poetic and romantic that language is and would have sounded in this theatrical setting. Other than that, I do think Fabio's bass could have been mixed a little louder, and I probably would have enjoyed a few more fully instrumental, vocal-free passages to break things up a little. Also, the DVD is cut up into ten minute chapters, so you can't directly go to the start of a specific track.

There is no denying this is a complex and sophisticated work, and like the most recent Le Orme album `La Via Della Seta' reminded me, grand, pompous and classically inspired epic Italian prog can still be immensely satisfying and impressive when done well. The theatrical production and the talented musicians involved here makes `Alive In Theatre' a supremely classy and elegant effort.

Four stars.

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 Summereve by HOSTSONATEN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.94 | 259 ratings

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Summereve
Hostsonaten Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by sinslice

4 stars Of all the Zuffanti´s projects, Höstsonaten is what attracts me and completely captivates me. And in particular the seasons cycle albums. Musical passages imbued with great atmospheres that draw light and shadow, joy and anguish, hope, sorrow, nostalgia. Without being sung, the pieces convey different emotional nuances.

Summereve begins with power and finesse at a time, with the magnificent Season's Ouverture, followed by the warm Glares of Light, with its melancholic violins and flutes. Then the album goes through similar paths, tranquility and passion, culminating in the forceful, and rhythmic Edge of Summer.

The play takes place in less than 45 minutes, nothing else is needed, everything is brilliantly compressed without leftovers.

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 The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner - Chapter One by HOSTSONATEN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.85 | 154 ratings

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The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner - Chapter One
Hostsonaten Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

4 stars FABIO ZUFFANTI is one of the most hard working musicians in our times. He have a dozen projects like FINISTERRE, ARIES, LA MASCHERA DI CERA, LAZONA, MERLIN, QUADRAPHONIC, ROHMER, R.U.G.H.E., ZAAL, HÖSTSONATEN itself and his solo career and every year he pulled out of his hat one or two albums.

Like his 4 albums suite that was based on seasons: Springsong (2001), Winterthrough (2008), Autumnsymphony (2009) and Summereve (2011).

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Chapter One (2012) comes from a long love that FABIO ZUFFANTI have for the English writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his poem 'The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner', published in 1798.

FABIO already worked on the poem on others HÖSTSONATEN albums, Höstsonaten (1997) and Mirrorgames (1998). But this time he decided to give full treatment to the poem in 2 albums, the Part 2 will be released in early 2013.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Chapter One (2012) delivers great Symphonic/Acoustic Progressive Rock with a hint of heavy Hard Rock kinda parts and lots of great synths. He worked with lots of musicians in the album to deliver some epic feel, thing that the poem needed. And he achieved. It's Progressive Rock in the vein of the old Italian Bands with a touch of the new era and great vocals by a bunch of nice guests, one different in each track.

And all the great music comes beautifully packed in a very sweet Gatefold LP alike package. BTF worked hard and did a very good job.

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 The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner - Chapter One by HOSTSONATEN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.85 | 154 ratings

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The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner - Chapter One
Hostsonaten Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Nightfly
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars One of the most prolific musicians working in Italian prog today, Fabio Zuffanti - bassist and composer has been responsible for numerous bands and projects including Finisterre, La Maschera Di Cera, Aries and Hostsonaten who's latest release is this first part of The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner.

Having only dabbled with Hostsonaten in the past with a couple of parts of the 4 Cd's making up the season cycle in my collection I was quite surprised at what I heard here. Winterthrough and Autumn Symphony had been enjoyable and pleasant, though it has to be said not terribly exciting pieces of symphonic prog. While Rime... has parts that could fit into that mould and still largely symphonic it has plenty of rocking out moments and also includes as you'd expect with the nature of the project, vocals, using Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem as lyrics. This is not the first time Hostsonaten have dabbled with Rime... having tracks titled parts 1 and 2 on the first two albums. Whether these are the same as the pieces titled parts 1 and 2 here I couldn't say. Ultimately I find this a more satisfying album than the season cycle due to the more dynamic and diverse nature of the material, bearing more of a resemblance in the heavier parts to La Maschera Di Cera than Hostsonaten's recent output at least.

Aided by a good number of other musicians including most of La Maschera Di Cera it's all beautifully performed as you'd expect from a Zuffanti project with violin, flute, sax and even bagpipes alongside the more traditional instruments. Vintage keyboards in abundance alongside some fiery guitar work and the seemingly ever present Maurizio Di Tollo turning in some solid drumming.

Overall an enjoyable release, which has impressed me enough to shell out for part 2 when it emerges. If you already like Zuffanti's work then this will not disappoint and be another welcome addtion to your collection. If you don't however I doubt you'll be converted by Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. 3 1/2 stars.

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 Summereve by HOSTSONATEN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.94 | 259 ratings

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Summereve
Hostsonaten Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The seasoncycle suite of Zuffanti's Hostsonaten came to end in February 11' with the release of its last part ''Summereve'' on BTF.Again one can find some great line-up changes, only Zuffanti and guitarist Matteo Nahum remained stable in a 11-piece crew of musicians.New entries include keyboardist Luca Scherani, formerly of Trama and a collaborator of Zuffanti in the Finisterre and Aries projects, and drummer Maurizio Di Tollo, past member of Distillerie Di Malto and drummer of Rohmer, Moongarden and La Maschera Di Cera.

With ''Summerve'' Hostsonaten mark somewhat of a return to the sound of their first releases.This is again a good combination of Folklore soundscapes with atmospheric Symphonic Rock, but the balance of these styles is very good and easily distinguishable.Additionaly the folkier parts are more energetic and far from relaxed with the nice acoustic grooves and lovely flute work richly supported by the notes of piano, synthesizers and Mellotron.Regarding the symphonic parts of the album, these sound really modern and fresh, sometimes flirting with the flashy Neo Prog sound, characterized by the grandiose orchestrations, the dramatic guitar solos of Nahum and the carefully structured string sections.Succesfully to say the least, Zuffanti has chosen to fill this album with more optimistic and rather pleasant musicianship with a good dose of dynamics, far from the somber themes of ''Autumnsymphony''.

This one stands somewhere between the very best and the less intricate releases of Hostsonaten.Strong musicianship with nice orchestrations and a good chance to meet Hostsonaten's both folky and symphonic face, if you are not aware of the band's sound...3.5 stars.

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 The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner - Chapter One by HOSTSONATEN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.85 | 154 ratings

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The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner - Chapter One
Hostsonaten Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by baggiesfan

5 stars Excellent new album from Fabio Zuffanti. What we find here is the recycling of a couple of older versions of Rime of an Ancient Mariner.

Part One here is a reworking of a track of the same name from Finisterre Project's album entitled 'Hostsonaten' and Part Two is a reworking of of a track with the same name from Hostsonaten's 'Mirrorgames' album.

Parts Three and Four - as well as the Prologue - are all original tracks from what I can gather although they all refer back to common themes and variations on those themes, reflected in Parts One and Two. The arrangements here have far more depth than previous versions and the mellotron work is particularly worthy of note. It is incredibly lush and sends shivers down the spine. The music is extremely melodic and relaxing to listen to and the mixture of male and female vocals, as well as long instrumental passages, mean there is something for all lovers of melodic prog rock here. The music really is beautiful.

Five stars - without a doubt.

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 The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner - Chapter One by HOSTSONATEN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.85 | 154 ratings

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The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner - Chapter One
Hostsonaten Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Hostsonaten's gleaming musical voyage continues unabated and progresses along nicely, the last instrumental sequence of the 4 seasons were completely exalting, especially the splendid Winter and Summer versions. Now that the cycle is complete, where will Fabio lead the ragazzi? Firstly, we are offered one of the most gorgeous album covers ever, a seemingly leather bound book of ripe green and bright yellow (remindful of the Oakland A's for our American fans or Norwich Canaries for you Europeans) in reverential praise for the Samuel Taylor Coleridge story that gives the album its name. Secondly, with La Maschera di Cera on holiday, Fabio has recruited the exemplary voice of Alessandro Corviglia, arguably one of the most original voices in modern RPI to adorn the verses with some emotional power and context. He adds that distinctive timbre on Part I and shares vocals with the delightful Simona Angioloni (of Aries fame) on Part IV. Part II features Davide Merletto (from prog-metal band Daedalus) and Part III has unknown singer Marco Dogliotti . One might easily assume that with all the lyrical content and singing that we are closer to the La Maschera di Cera- "Petali di Fuoco" style when in fact the line is simply blurred, this being a first chapter of two. When music is this appealing, who wants to worry about labels? The musicianship is world-class, starting with the tightest rhythm section in Italy, Fabio's relentless and reptilian bass allied with Maurizio di Tollo, a percussive veteran of the highest caliber. Both Luca Scherani and Matteo Nahum are phenomenal players as witnessed on previous works.

The "Prologue" is instrumentally devastating, powerful and raucous, laden with smoking guitar riffs and leads, steaming mellotron howls, bruising bass and pounding drums. The stage is set for the story to begin, beads of salted perspiration and flexed muscles. The next 4 tracks are simply titled as Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4, each one distinctive, vivid and cinematographic.

Part I - The story is introduced by Corviglia's voice, acoustic guitar, flute and mellotron swoon in the background thus giving fuel to a strong early Genesis influence, as the album may be construed as a modern "Supper's Ready"-like suite. The result is certainly engaging, the melodies twisting and turning in a variety of directions. Hushed and distorted vocalizing harkens back to the Foxhead days, there is little doubt but its utterly entertaining and musically riveting. Part II - At first the music is elegantly piano-driven, Luca Scherani infusing his arsenal of ivories into the mix as the arrangement gets more intense, while Matteo Nahum 's chunky guitar adds a metallic sheen, not to mention some slippery leads played well and fast when need be. Just to keep us on our ears (not toes) Edmondo Romano supplies seductive sax and Joanne Roan flutes her flute. Merletto does a fine job on vocals.

Part III- The windswept mood gets emotionally very heavy and expressive; Zuffanti's booming bass waltzing with the piano and the flute. Then, suddenly and quite unexpectedly, Dogliotti outright steals the show with some heavy lunged yelps that would make Ian Gillan blue (OK, purple!) with envy! Synthesizers squeal in anger, the organ swells like some wicked ocean and the battleship drums pound endlessly. You would think of a more progressive Queensryche for a second! The near 17 minute hurricane is all of sound and fury of the finest order. This is not pretty, beautiful or ornate like the Season cycle that some reviewers criticized as being too cute. It's raw, harsh and breathtaking all at once, one of the finest slice of hard melodic prog coming from RPI-land in recent memory. A finale with sultry mellotron shrieks and screeching guitar solos will keep the seagulls away.

Part IV- Bagpipes amid the crashing waves, Simona's trembling voice expresses with words what the sad violin implores, flickering piano melancholy, acoustic guitar serenity and violin imagery combine with incredible genius. Her voice has a Kate Bush-like combination of delicacy and power that ultimately rejoices in the presence of the highly emotive Celtic tinge that morphs into a gentle flurry of luxuriant piano entering through the mist, Simona wailing brightly, violin in tow. Alessandro massages a testosterone-lusty and commanding voice to finish off this album with grandiose power.

As a rule, I dislike comparing albums as they are their own monument to a place and time. So I won't. This album is a definite progression away from the previous cute and shimmering symphonics, forging a new attempt at combining La Maschera di Cera power with Hostsonaten grace.

4 tar poems

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 Hostsonaten by HOSTSONATEN album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.73 | 66 ratings

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Hostsonaten
Hostsonaten Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Initially beginning as a side project of the band Finisterre, Hostsonaten has since evolved into one of the most famous modern Italian progressive rock acts - and with good reason, I might add. The band's lush, pastoral, and downright beautiful approach to Italian symphonic prog is mesmerizing, and the basis for their success was established on this 1997 eponymous debut. Hostsonaten's sound is already well-developed on this impressive first outing, and an irresistible charm and sense of adventurousness keeps me entertained throughout its lengthy duration. Although numerous flaws keep this album from reaching perfection, the lovely melodies and thoughtful arrangements make Hostsonaten an absolute gem for any fan of Italian prog on the softer side.

Right from the beginning, it's clear that leader Fabio Zuffanti had big ambitions for this album. After a short intro, the band dives head-first into a sprawling 41-minute prog epic, simply titled "Hostsonaten". Complete with flutes, saxophones, acoustic soundscapes, mellotrons, and bombastic synthesizers, this song has everything that most progressive rock fans dream of. The real strength of this epic is in the spectacular arrangements - the vast instrumental palette and strong sense of dynamics make this an absolute joy to listen to. Though the transitions are occasionally on the weak side and Fabio Zuffanti's vocals are a few strokes below par, that doesn't stop this from being an excellent example of a forty-plus minute song done right. The next two tracks are shorter by comparison, but are still lengthy enough to be considered epics by most listeners. The absolutely beautiful "Remember You" is my favorite song on this album, with its mesmerizing woodwinds grabbing me every time, and "The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, Part 1" is a very solid way to close the album as well.

Hostsonaten is a very impressive album from most angles, but there are a few flaws here that do detract from my overall experience. For one, the production is pretty poor across the board, with the distant-sounding and muffled drums being the biggest issue. The vocals aren't produced well either, and on top of that, Zuffanti's vocal delivery doesn't impress me too much. Though his calming style does suit the tone of the compositions quite well, he just sounds unenthusiastic and a bit boring to me. A better vocalist could've done this album wonders, but as the bulk of this album is instrumental anyway, it's not a huge problem.

Those complaints aside, this is an impressive debut from Hostsonaten. Fans of Italian prog bands like Premiata Forneria Marconi or Le Orme owe it to themselves to hear this 90's gem, provided that they can deal with a few of the album's shortcomings. I am one of those people who can overlook a few flaws in favor of excellent music, and that's certainly what we have here - whenever I'm in the mood for pastoral, well-written, and heartwarming Italian prog, Hostsonaten is one of the first albums I'll reach for. Not quite essential, but definitely recommended.

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