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MOONGARDEN

Symphonic Prog • Italy


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Moongarden biography
Italian Symphonic band, MOONGARDEN was founded in the early '90s by Cristiano Roversi and David Cremoni. They had written enough material for a demo and added drummer Adolfo Bonati to the group. For this initial recording three guest musicians were recruited, including future full time member Simone Baldini Tosi. The demo released by Mellow records in 1994 as their first album, "Moonsadness." With a different lineup Christiano and David contributed Mellow Records' "The River of Constant Change" Genesis tribute album. Then they got to work on the next project. With drummer Massimiliano Sorrentini, guitarist Dimitri Sardini and vocalist Ricki Tonco joining the group, the band considers "Brainstorm of Emptiness" the actual first album. At this time an Osanna cover track was also recorded for a '70s Italian Prog tribute album.

Due to personal issues MOONGARDEN went inactive for over four years. The bug bit Christiano again and he got to work on new material, which would comprise the 2001 album, "The Gates of Omega." Dmitri did not return, Luca Palleschi joined as the new vocalist and Luca Dell'Anna was added on keyboards. The new album was welcomed positively by critics and launched a series of successful live shows. 2003's "Roundmidnight saw the band with a new label and another shift in lineup. Luca Dell'Anna was gone so Christiano had to cover keyboard duties again, which prompted the addition of Mirko Tagliasacchi on bass. In 2005 Max Sorrentini and Luca Palleschi called it quits. For the 2008 release, "Songs from the Lighthouse," Maurizio di Tollo joined on drums and original vocalist Simone Baldini Tosi returned to the fold. For the first time there was no shuffling as all the same members appeared on "A Vulgar Display of Prog" in 2009.

It seems as long as Christiano and David want to work together there will be a MOONGARDEN. It is a symphonic band that happens to be IItalian so should not be considered in the ranks of RPI. The influences stem more from Camel, Genesis and Pink Floyd than PFM or Banco. MOONGARDEN should be of interest to anyone exploring Symphonic prog.

H.T. Riekels

Moongarden official website

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VoyeurVoyeur
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Vulgar DisplayVulgar Display
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Gates of OmegaGates of Omega
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MOONGARDEN discography


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

2.72 | 33 ratings
Moonsadness
1994
3.18 | 47 ratings
Brainstorm Of Emptyness
1995
3.09 | 58 ratings
The Gates of Omega
2001
3.64 | 66 ratings
RoundMidnight
2003
3.54 | 87 ratings
Songs From The Lighthouse
2008
3.63 | 88 ratings
A Vulgar Display of Prog
2009
4.01 | 115 ratings
Voyeur
2014

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

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MOONGARDEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Voyeur by MOONGARDEN album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.01 | 115 ratings

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Voyeur
Moongarden Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Italian prog stalwarts Moongarden are back with another album, consistently producing new material at a regular pace. Their past discography as revealed a few gems ('Songs from the Lighthouse' was a real cracker) as well as few average ones without any duds, as they have always sought to move beyond the classic RPI mode and vie for a more contemporary style that reflects the 21st century. Keyboardist/stick maestro Cristiano Roversi has reassembled a new crew in Mattia Scalfaro on drums (replacing the supremely talented Maurizio di Tollo) as well as second guitarist Dimitri Sardini, to complement the long-time crew of axeman Davide Cremoni, bassist Mirko Tagliasacchi and singer/violinist Simone Baldini Tosi. The concept here involves the contemplative evocations from a peeping tom voyeur who enjoys observing, through the use of modern technology, on how people live in a typical modern chicken-coop high-rise apartment building. What makes this such a fascinating listen is the stellar musicianship displayed, as all are exemplary performers, albeit not the most technical material ever, it nevertheless possesses a unchallengeable seduction, the guitars brash and courageous, the keyboard work definitely modern symphonic with occasional electronic winks that define the times. The rhythmic foundation is the most overtly hi-tech, both icy and insistent, at times robotic in a good sense, as drummer Scalfaro blends the past with some slick programming touches. Though broken down into 11 tracks, the entire menu just flows into another chapter somewhat seamlessly, providing an almost cinematographic feel, segueing perfectly into a determined whole. Each piece has a variety of innovative sounds and tones that keep things on the boiling point.

Run into the lobby and up the staircase, Vickey the voyeur seeks out new visual pleasures within the tight confines of communal existence, finding victims of analysis and formatting those covert impressions into musical form. 'Voyeur part 1' sets the elevator route perfectly with some delicious sounds, segueing into the ultra-urban cool electronica of 'Vickey Mouse', a swooshing piece that rekindles a smattering of influences, from No-Man, the Underground to RPWL, with Simone's urgent vocals leading the smooth crew forever forward.

The glossy delivery continues on 'Barbiturates Gentleman', owner of a lovely Genesis-like chorus and a great hoarse vocal that enthusiastically becomes appealing, especially when shouldered by some vocoder echoes. The violin enters the fray in timely fashion amid the gargantuan mellotron swirls, combining again the past with the future, followed up a sublime and extended guitar solo, part Hackett and part Holdsworth. Gorgeous stuff. The highpoint arrives with heavier 'Mr. Moore', a crafty piece of pugnacious prog with fashionable sounds, rhythmic pulse that spans the gamut between slick and solid, winking at recent Porcupine Tree, blending cannonading drums and chop-chop riffs that give the meat some muscularity. Roversi adorns this artillery with a fine synthesizer salvo that is all about restraint and experimentation. The axe solo on the other head, is twirling and sensitive to the nth degree.

Next up,'The Usurper' combines classic prog with explorative electronica to a new haunting level, using a multitude of effects and sounds that add anguish, pain and disbelief to the arrangement. Everything is alluring here, the anxious vocals and the delirious guitar solo, all snugly framed by the rhythm section. The shorter 'Shiny Eyes' is perhaps the most immediate song here, though the subject matter is not exactly happy, it is nevertheless pumped by a rather powerful theme that keeps things simple, a bit like current Pineapple Thief or earlier U2, jangling guitars notwithstanding.

'TV Queen' is the polar opposite, as heavy dual guitars carve a sinuous furrow, booming bass rumbles in the foreground while Simone growls the innuendo-laden subject matter. The dense mellotron torrents add confusion and camouflage to the reality of it all, the drums pummeling with unfettered desperation. The flow keeps growing as the band includes a lovely instrumental section as a separate track but without the slightest pause, a neat way the finish off a bruising piece of work.

To complete the deal, 'Message from the Last Floor' has a rather ominous tone, echoing piano and mechanical percussion in the forefront, Simone doing a fine job on the microphone once again. Bassist Tagliasacchi lets his fingers run over his fret board, but the guitars really steal the show, tossing off some delicate licks with little pretense. The mood here becomes slightly more bombastic and grandiose, sweeping upward and spiraling in total control. A terrific piece once again that will confound the skeptical fans.

The churning 'Voyeur Part 2' turns off the lights on this seasoned affair, a delightful addition to any ongoing Moongarden collection and most definitely an icon for those fans looking for newer sounds, while still remaining firmly in the progressive rock camp. This hard-working and consistently likable band certainly deserves a little more adulation from the progressive community.

4.5 Peeping Toms

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 The Gates of Omega  by MOONGARDEN album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.09 | 58 ratings

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The Gates of Omega
Moongarden Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars A turn of events followed the release of ''Brainstorm of emptyness'', starting right after the album was launched with Tonco and Sardini leaving the band and Davide Cagnata from Obscura joining for a cover on Osanna's ''There will be time'', included in the 97' Italian Prog tribute ''Zarathustra's revenge''.Due to personal problems Moongarden were put on ice in 1997 with Roversi finding time to focus on his first solo album ''Music from my room's window'', which came out in 1999.When things were back on track, Roversi decided to gather Moongarden again with him, Massimiliano Sorrentini and David Cremoni now joined by another ex-Obscura member, Luca Palleschi on lead vocals and new keyboardist Luca Dell'Anna.With Mellow Records never giving up on the group, Moongarden returned in 2001 with the 2-CD album ''The Gates of omega''.

With Roversi exploring the fields of Electronic and Ambient Music during the abscence of Moongarden from the scene, it appears that his newly involved territories had much inspired his style.He brought these influences to his main band and the result was a super-extended effort, torn between an updated Neo Prog sound with lots of piano, vocal melodies and dreamy atmospheres and a minimalistic Ambient/Experimental approach, which focuses on soft singing lines, Industrial vibes, effects and electronics.The bad thing is that he decided to follow the latter style in most of the long compositions of the album, the result being a collage of hypnotic, atmospheric soundscapes with hardly distinguished variations in a lounge palette of music colors.''Forever chained'' and ''5 Years'' are two nice, lyrical and emotional Neo Prog pieces from the first CD, but the 27-min. long title-track maybe found a waste of time, for those discouraged by the label ''Ambient Music''.The second CD contains four long tracks (from 10 to 17 minutes long), which sound more balanced with mixed stylings, but the result is more or less the same.The big symphonic sounds in specific segments is absolutely efficient, the melodic breaks are mostly nice and the vocals of Luca Palleschi are both clean and sentimental.But then follow the emphatic twists towards Pop and Ambient Music with synth-based soundscapes, electronic beats and lounge acoustics, which hurt the overall effort.Focus on the 16-min. ''Home sweet home'', which practically sounds like old'n'good Moongarden and their strong GENESIS references.

One of the most uneven albums I've heard.The Neo and symphonic tendencies are among the goodies of this release and a great example of the style, but the minimalistic, electronic flavors, while quite atmospheric, spoil the cohesion of the listening experience.Approach with caution, at least the album is too long and there is some interesting stuff among the overstretched ideas...2.5 stars.

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 Voyeur by MOONGARDEN album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.01 | 115 ratings

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Voyeur
Moongarden Symphonic Prog

Review by fphoenix

5 stars It's been five years since their last album and while the personnel is largely the same, Moongarden's style has changed for the better since "A Vulgar Display of Prog".

"Voyeur" is a much more focused concept album that follows the story of Vickey as she spies on various other characters living in a skyscraper. The album incorporates a wide variety of styles and sounds yet manages to make them work together cohesively within the context of the album. There's no filler tracks on here. Every single song gets 5 stars from me. "Voyeur" is full of breathtaking moments from start to end, finishing off with the astounding "Message From The Last Floor" and sublime "Voyeur Part Two".

Moongarden has never made a secret of their Genesis influence, but it's never been more clear than it is on Voyeur. Parts of the album sound like they would've fit right in on "Wind & Wuthering" or "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway".

That being said, although they've brought the typical array of Banks-like synths and Hackett style guitar solos to the mix, Moongarden brings the classic Genesis sound to modern times. The addition of new electronic sounds, instruments, and modern effects not typically seen in prog rock give it a new dimension. This isn't some copy. They've brought prog rock to the 21st century with great success.

As for the vocals, Simone Baldini Tosi does incredibly. His emotional delivery throughout lend the songs a lot of power. He also contributes by way of violin, used only a few times but very effectively. Every time the violin enters the picture is a highlight.

An absolute masterpiece. If you're looking for what Genesis might have sounded like had they never lost their sense of musical experimentation, look no further.

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 The Gates of Omega  by MOONGARDEN album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.09 | 58 ratings

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The Gates of Omega
Moongarden Symphonic Prog

Review by mbzr48

4 stars How can mere mortals make such beautiful music! If you've heard Moongarden's previous two albums and liked what you've heard, then do yourself a favor and have a listen to "The Gates of Omega". I admit I was skeptical when I found out that Riccardo Tonco (who sounds just like David Sylvian and has a beautiful voice) was no longer on vocals. Yet I was pleasantly surprised by their new vocalist Luca Palleschi, who does a superb job. To be honest, the lyrics are very sparse, leaving plenty of room for sounds that are out of this world. This music is simply magical: dreamy, atmospheric yet so tight it rips you apart at every turn. The musical phrases and movements are hypnotic and the production impeccable: even through a pair of mere headphones you can actually feel the bass through your body (never thought this possible!) This is Italian prog at its best. For me a 4 stars

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 The Gates of Omega  by MOONGARDEN album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.09 | 58 ratings

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The Gates of Omega
Moongarden Symphonic Prog

Review by bertolino

3 stars It seems i will be the fist to have a word on the actual version. Indeed,it has to be added about the new remastered and more concised 2010 1cd edition of what i think is a very good neo prog album. Now i've never heard the original version but whatever has been cut down gives as a result a moody but still powerfull cd.

For one ,the piece The Gates of Omega as suffered (?) a ten minutes cut and, at still seventeen minutes, it keeps a soft moody progression which will not overstay its welcome by too much. Home sweet home, now the fifth song of this single cd should stay pretty much the same at approx. the same time of sixteen or so minutes. And the same applies to Stars and Tears,the third epic of this well packed album, now the conclusion of the record. Untouched is the loveable overture, Forever chained, and the softer still 5 Years, giving you a one/two "feather punch" of prog ballads for which i'm a sucker i suppose.

In fact this is a kind of album i'd listen in a row, when in the mood, with the polish group Quidam mark II version, period "Together we're alone". As long as you share with me some appreciation for the same kind of moody prog indebted to Genesis circa 76/78 but sung in place by Ray Wilson and thus Marillion: or if you like the overall work of Cristiano Roversi, you could do worst than put an ear on this one. Three stars and a half for this reworked version.

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 The Gates of Omega  by MOONGARDEN album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.09 | 58 ratings

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The Gates of Omega
Moongarden Symphonic Prog

Review by Kiwi1

4 stars This is a magnificent album. What I find particularly admirable about the music is how Moongarden achieve a high level of compositional sophistication without allowing its complexity to become too conspicuous. Often, Progressive Rock strives too hard in its desire to employ unusual time-signatures and inventive harmonies such that the resulting music sounds awkward and contrived. It is, however, easy to overlook this album's sophistication even though it abounds in these musical attributes. What might sound like a straightforward harmonic riff involving a few repeated chords is often a carefully evolving structure which slowly builds to achieve an emotional intensity that is so often missing in Progressive Rock. Moongarden albums are often categorised a 'Neo-Prog' but the compositional sophistication here suggests that the label is unfair. The music also includes all the distinctive characteristics which render it clearly a Moongarden production ? the interplay between the guitarist and keyboardist, without involving flashy displays of instrumental virtuosity, is...well, always tasteful and somehow 'correct'. As with their previous albums, the music is overwhelmingly sad (what, I wonder, as I listen to it, happened to the band's members to make them capable of such melancholy). But such sadness is usually expressed in a way that is exquisitely beautiful and sometimes quite moving. If I have any quibbles, and they are only minor, it is that sometimes the layering of keyboards and studio 'effects' renders the music a little too mushy making me hope for some intervening sharpness to offset the prevailing mellowness and some of the tracks do seem to overstay their welcome and seem strangely reluctant to finish. But, overall, as I said at the beginning of this short review, this is a magnificent album.

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 Brainstorm Of Emptyness  by MOONGARDEN album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.18 | 47 ratings

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Brainstorm Of Emptyness
Moongarden Symphonic Prog

Review by Kiwi1

4 stars 'Brainstorm of Emptiness', the 2nd release by Moongarden ,is a fine supplement to Progressive Rock's noble corpus of unfathomable yet somehow compelling concept albums. I cannot confidently describe the content of this particular 'concept' given that the apparently broken narrative is developed by different characters all voiced by the same singer in an occasionally incomprehensible and 'accented' style. My particular interpretation ? no doubt wrong ? is that it concerns the cyclical unfolding of abandonment, withdrawal, childhood mental disturbance, loneliness and other 'cheery' themes in which a boy's (Fritz?) memories of his father leaving and his subsequent drift into crime and institutionalisation becomes all the more poignant now that he is contemplating leaving his own child (Sonya) who in turn associates her father with the coming and going of the moon and the realisation that she must also depart those she loves....yes, the narrative is that complex and I haven't even mentioned another character, a 'witch' called Sherylyn, whose role in the plot I cannot determine. Whatever the 'correct' interpretation ? if, indeed, there is one ? it is certain that the 'story' is one of exquisite sadness, something that the music masterfully captures. This and their previous release (the aptly named 'Moonsadness') demonstrate the band's talent for evoking a melancholy mood the beauty of which becomes particularly heart-wrenching during the guitarists understated but highly effective solos. The influence of the usual 'Classic' Progressive bands, especially Genesis and Pink Floyd, is evident throughout the album although the music always retains its own distinct identity.(But isn't there a moment during the second track that is almost a complete sample lifted straight from Pink Floyd's 'Great Gig in the Sky'?) Particularly impressive is the intelligent employment of 'tone-colours' to evoke, for example, the wash of the sea or the tumult of city life. Similarly, the clever use of syncopation and unconventional time signatures effectively 'paint' the disorientation and emotional turmoil that the various characters of the narrative are obviously experiencing. Hence, 'Brainstorm of Emptiness' , without ever achieving 'greatness' is a very good piece of Progressive Rock that is well worth an attentive listen.....just keep a bottle of anti-depressants handy if you do.

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 Moonsadness by MOONGARDEN album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.72 | 33 ratings

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Moonsadness
Moongarden Symphonic Prog

Review by Kiwi1

3 stars Conspicuous are the weaknesses of 'Moonsadness',. Several previous reviews note the vocal affectations of the singer which are often truly comical. His entry into a track is usually reminiscent of a friendly cow mooing for its morning corn and his delivery of the words is so tortuous as to make them incomprehensible. Given, however, that the album was initially only a demo recording some of its other faults (the rather rather flat production values for example) are, perhaps, more understandable although the off ?key flute playing near the beginning of the opening track is something unforgivable under any circumstances. The music is clearly that of a band still searching to establish its 'Progressive' credentials. Some passages, especially in the final track, offer a rather laboured attempt at Crimsonesque complexity. And the 'neo-progressive' endeavour of the album to marry a Progressive Rock aesthetic with aspects of 1980's 'pop' (always a tricky ambition given that one was surely the antithesis of the other) is ultimately a failure. Nevertheless, despite these faults, as a 'demo' the album does fulfil its purpose by 'demonstrating' the band's ambitions, abilities and potential. The musicianship, without ever becoming spectacular, is certainly competent and capable of occasional beauty. Especially notable is the combination, of some lyrical guitar solo work against a luscious harmonic keyboard cushion ? particularly at the end of the opening track and throughout 'Seagulls' ? which achieves a melancholic beauty resonant with the album's title. After listening to this album a few times I have, therefore, become confident that later albums by Moongarden (I am, at the time of writing this review, unfamiliar with any) are able to achieve a much greater polish and will rectify the problems that are so evident here. Even the singer has a considerable vocal range and a warm tone which is only spoilt by his excessive and injudicious theatricality. Moongarden , then, offers a decent but flawed listening experience probably worthy of some 'alternative' downloading but certainly not a purchase.

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 Songs From The Lighthouse by MOONGARDEN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.54 | 87 ratings

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Songs From The Lighthouse
Moongarden Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars With their fifth album from 2008 named Songs from the lighthouse, Moongarden take a diffrent direction, musicaly. Gone is Tonko and his great deep voice and aswell his poetical lyrics and here we have what I might very easy call modern prog, both musicaly and lyricaly, not very far from Porcupine Tree. Here are only 2 pieces that reminds me they are a symphonic/neo prog band - Opening track My darkside, an very ok piece with great keyboards and part 5 from what was in the past on Brainstorm - Sonya in search of the Moon, the rest is almost average at best, sounding very dull unmemorable tunes with almost the same arrangements. I was disappointed for sure after I heared this album, I was expecting better then this, maybe because I've like si much Brainstorm I would might like this one too, not realy beside the excellent cover art and inside booklet, the music is modern almost mainstream in aproach with very little instrumental passages, and not any passages prog rock is missing here most of the time. Is like I'm listning to PT or any othe band related to prog, realy , just listent to It's you , a realy boring and a total disater track or Emotiounaut another skip piece for me. The voice of the new singer Simone Baldini Tosi is ok, not fantastic not bad, quite sual, the problem is not him and his voice is the compositions, that sounds dul with cheesy lyrics, check out the booklet for that. The title track or Dream lord are 2 lenghty piece that saves this album to be a 2 star, 2.5 rounded to 3 this time, mainly for the pieces mentioned above as good and a honoray mentioning for the cover art and booklet. Not recommend one of the unpleasent Moongarden albums, if noot totaly unenjoyble, but far realy far from the greatness of Brainstorm in any aspect.

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 Brainstorm Of Emptyness  by MOONGARDEN album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.18 | 47 ratings

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Brainstorm Of Emptyness
Moongarden Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Moongarden is one of the second waves of progressive rock bands from Italy, formed in early '90's conducted by keybordist Cristiano Roversi, easely can afirm that Moongarden is Cristiano Roversi, he is the main composer of almost all pieces that gives Moongarden attention. Besides Moongarden he is member in another fine progressive bands also from Italy, Mangala Valis or Submarine Silence. So, waht we have here, is the second album of this neo/symphonic rock band from 1995 named Brainstorm of emptyness issued as famus already Mellow records. I was little shocked to see how low reated this album is, realy what is so bad here I can't understand or find, to me was a pleasent album all the way with monor flaws here and there. First, I think Ricardo Tonko the vocalist coming from Theatre, another great italian prog band who released one album in 1993 named No More Rhymes But Mr. Brainstorm, is the best vocalist Moongarden ever had, realy, his voice is deep, almost gothic in places, with excellent variations of his tone, realy great voice and above all fits perfectly in album's atmosphere. Second, the music from here is almost excellent, from nep prog movements to a more symphonic side Moongarden did a great job for sure, I can't complain about almost anything, almost - only maybe for Is He Mommy's Little Monster?a Rachmaninov piece coverd and re arranged by Roversi, I think totaly useless, musicaly to me, but goes pretty ok in the dark atmosphere of the album. Pieces like Sea Memories or Gun child proves that Tonko is a great vocalist, but aswell the music is quite complex and more elastic then on usual neo prog band, the arrangements has pleanty of great keybords, great guitar that goes somewhere between Hackett in places and Floyd or Iq. I realy like this album. not something of a masterpiece , but a very under rated, unfairly album from Moongarden catalogue I might say. 3.5 rounded to 4 this time. I thik one of their fines moments.

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