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NICHELODEON

RIO/Avant-Prog • Italy


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Nichelodeon biography
A workshop devoted to artisan sound and vision performance, Nichelodeon was born from a nucleus of compositions written around 1997 by the singer and composer, Claudio Milano. His compositions have been presented in Europe and in countries outside Europe (Moscow - The First Biennial Fair of Contemporary Art in 2005, The International Festival of Theatre Research in the Slovenian Republic in 2004) 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".
In September 2007, the first official formation of the project was created, with Francesco Zago electric guitarist, Maurizio Fasoli pianist, recipe readings from the book "The science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well" by Pellegrino Artusi, Riccardo di Paola at the synth, Claudio Milano voice, video contributions by Marc Vincent Kalinka and sculptures from the studio "letestedimary", all animated by a live cd-r "Cinemanemico", which has obtained more than a hundred positive articles in specialized magazines, newspapers, webzines and in radio talk shows all over the world. In June 2008 "Cinemanemico" was among the winners of the Review in honour of Demetrio Stratos and participated in the project Factory Art, dedicated to John Cage's work; "Cinemanemico" was selected by a jury of the Progawards for the nomination of the year as "Best debut album".
In 2009 the band recorded a video document entitled "Cinemanemico DVD" with composer Luca Olivieri at the synth, glockenspiel and programming taken over by Riccardo di Paola, the scenic appearances inspired by the Theatre of the Absurd with actress Manuela Tadini and the video contributions by producer Charles Napier (author of the band's first videoclip "Ciò che rimane/All that's left "). The proof was made in one single copy, some extracts of which are available on numerous channels and net works dedicated to the project.
In June 2009, the band was completely re composed becoming a workshop open to the collaboration of any artist coming from the field of radical improvisation, jazz musician, contemporary art, noise, visual artists, performers, dancers, djs, who create a live exhibition of Nichelodeon which is completely new and different.
The new line-up featuring: Francesco Chiapperini, Andrea Illuminati, Claudio Milano, Andrea Murada, Max Pierini, Luca Pissavini, Lorenzo Sempio.
In February of 2010 the music and videos ...
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  • Fame Cinemanemico, 2008
  • Fiaba Il gioco del silenzio, 2010

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NICHELODEON discography


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

3.88 | 43 ratings
Il gioco del silenzio
2010
3.49 | 11 ratings
Bath Salts
2013

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

3.38 | 7 ratings
Cinemanemico
2008
3.70 | 6 ratings
No
2012
3.86 | 3 ratings
Musica Cruda
2013

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

4.20 | 6 ratings
Come Sta Annie?
2010

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

3.85 | 11 ratings
NichelOdeon "Bath Salts" + InSonar "L'Enfant et le Ménure"
2013

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

NICHELODEON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Musica Cruda by NICHELODEON album cover Live, 2013
3.86 | 3 ratings

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Musica Cruda
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Italian band NICHELODEON have been around in one form or another, rather literally speaking in this case, since 2007. A substantial amount of music have been released by the band over the now seven years they have been around, both live and studio productions, and even a DVD. "Musica Cruda" is the most recent production of their at the time of writing, and is a strictly limited production that was sent to a select audience in the summer of 2013.

Nicheloden is an ensemble that perhaps isn't as well known as they should be, but those aware of the band and their releases generally find their brand of avant-oriented, experimental music to be both interesting and intriguing. This is a band that tends to shy away from style conventions and a regular approach to the art of writing and performing music, and much revolves around the vocal talents of main man Claudio Milano, a vocalist with an impressive range, a strong voice and a keen sense of the theatrical.

"Musica Cruda" is a very different production to be released under the Nicheloden moniker however. Not because it is a short, concise production featuring either live on stage or live in studio recordings, nor because the main emphasis is on material previously recorded and released in alternate versions, but rather that this is, strictly speaking, not a band performance.

Apart from the a cappella studio recordings, arguably most intriguing on a technical level, this is a live performance by a duo rather than a band. Claudio Milano on vocals and Raoul Moretti on everything else. The else in question plucked string instruments. Listening to Nichelodeon's compositions explored in such a sparse arrangement is a vastly different experience than exploring them as performed by a full band, and at least as far as I'm concerned many of these songs comes across as more compelling in this simpler guise, and arguably more interesting as well.

The premise of all the live recordings is a simple but effective one: Plucked strings, dark and light in tone, used as the foundation for Milano's impressive vocal capabilities, and catering for sound in the intermediate sequences between the vocal passages when applicable. The contrast between the brittle light tones, the warmer organic dark tones and Milano's expressive and vibrant voice is a highly compelling one, the vocals here literally carrying the songs adding nerve and tension by the truckload. From light to dark, from ominous to jubilant, from harmonic and controlled to more experimental and wild, but still tightly controlled.

"Musica Cruda" is an album that first and foremost should be regarded as a celebration of vocals I guess. On how to use range, pace and intensity to make the vocals as vibrant and compelling as possible, yet within a context where the vocals have something to play upon, exploring the capabilities and possibilities within a more or less clearly defined framework. On a more superficial level, one might state that if you enjoy high quality vocals and plucked string instruments combined this is an album you most likely will appreciate greatly. The end result is much more than the sum of it's parts of course, but as a general description this should suffice.

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 NichelOdeon Boxset/Compilation, 2013
3.85 | 11 ratings

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NichelOdeon "Bath Salts" + InSonar "L'Enfant et le Ménure"
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

4 stars No Van Goghs please

I reviewed the album 'Bath Salts' a little while back and was completely taken aback by the pirouetting beauty that had unveiled before me - especially seeing as I'd approached the music thinking it would be some kind of avant prog with strange fittings and angular motifs up the wazoo. That was however so far from the truth, that I today laugh a little when I think back to my opening meeting with this Italian produce...

The two missing discs I have yet to review are a product of Claudio Milano's musical flirtings, and I'll tell you right away: this guy must be doing something right and genuinely interesting, as musicians like Trey Gunn, Pat Mastelotto, Dieter Moebius, Paolo Tofani and Nik Turner agreed to take part in the making of these, and they are just a small fraction of the incredibly talented crew supporting the all encompassing, wild, frail, gentle and erratic vocals of Claudio. Where each of these fit in on the two albums is strictly guess work on my behalf, but I am quite sure I've spotted both Moebius and Mastelotto a fair few times during the playing time.

The music on offer is closer to what most of us here would identify as 'prog rock', and probably also a tad more approachable than 'Bath Salts' itself, but that doesn't take away from the overt progressive tendencies at it's core. Whether conveyed by a scarecrow of voices all emanating from the man himself, sounding particularly close to that of siren singing and inspired mermaid yawns, or through ambient flusters of electronics, gentle Italian guitar figurines or maybe some good old piano taken straight out of the symphonic prog cookbook, you're almost certain to intercept the more rooted feel of these records. They're earthier and more tangible compared to the, at times, almost hovering musical box presence of Bath Salts.

Come to think of it: imagine Dead Can Dance on some terrible Daturah inflicted drug conjuring up orchestral synths, strings, fizzing electronics and then being interrupted by some King Crimson musicians who just came from an hour long free improvisation jam, and you're not that far off...

Alright if you think you got it pegged down, then add some cabaret music, backwards blues, jazz rock, art rock and a slow moving presence that opens up ever so gently to you over the course of the individual tracks.

Criss crossing between Italian and the English lingo, the music never feels mismatched or thrown on the two albums for feck's sake. It feels natural and gives to the listener a kick in his kidneys - something to distract him from the lavish and colourful cover art.

As to which one I prefer of these two parts of 'Bath Salts', then I have to go for the original album. While you do get a fair whiff of the prog rock of old, as well as some clear parallels to the early RIO scene, on these two InSonar releases, and while they still come across infinitely modern and original, there's just something about Bath Salts that draws me in, gives it the edge.

For any of you people wanting to step out of your sonic routines and take the plunge in something brand new, and, for this kind of music, rather approachable, then by all means go get this stunning Nichelodeon release. It comes in a beautiful blue packing with old school string tied around, almost like a shoelace.

I remember saying to Claudio, that he shouldn't worry too much. Sure people will pick up on some of the most boundary pushing prog that's currently being made. "Sure thing!" I said I'd promise him he wouldn't end up as some kind of musical Van Gogh, who many years from now, after he's long dead and gone, will be looked back on as one of the most progressive and versatile vocalists of the new century. Let's give the living credit while they roam the airwaves eh?

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 Bath Salts by NICHELODEON album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.49 | 11 ratings

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Bath Salts
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

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.

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 Bath Salts by NICHELODEON album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.49 | 11 ratings

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Bath Salts
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

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.

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 NichelOdeon Boxset/Compilation, 2013
3.85 | 11 ratings

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NichelOdeon "Bath Salts" + InSonar "L'Enfant et le Ménure"
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Andy Webb
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

4 stars Prog rock is a truly dynamic genre. While many believe it to only consist of pompous British men playing a 27-keyboard stack while wearing 4 capes, the breadth of the genre extends so much further than that. While the extravagant 70s ideal still exists, bands from all walks of life are continuously pushing the boundaries of prog rock to include so much more than the balladry of the bands of the past. Bands such as the two bands represented in this boxset, NichelOdeon and InSonar, certainly push these boundaries. Both are bona fide members of the robust avant-garde prog scene of Italy, and are led by musical visionary Claudio Milano. The bands, while both being led by Milano, have very differing visions. NichelOdeon, and the album seen here, Bath Salts is an emotionally dense and minimalistic musical expos', while InSonar's L'Enfant et le M'nure is an experimental and all-inclusive work or avant-rock. The four-disc split is an expansive release, running for over three hours, and features the sounds of dozens of respected avant-garde musicians. The album is incredibly difficult to listen to in one stretch, but broken into its respective albums and perhaps even further into each album's respective discs, this album is a treat for any fan of avant-rock.

The boxset itself is a sight to be seen ' the handmade set contains the four discs and two separate booklets. Each set is handmade by Claudio himself, which brings the listener even closer to the viscerally personal music that is contained on the four discs. The entire presentation is very clean with the only plastic being the slim lightweight sleeves for the CDs themselves. The booklets too are very clean and well designed, with Bath Salts's booklet containing a portfolio of art pieces and photographs to accompany each of the songs on both discs. The art is very much impressionist and almost surreal, with some pieces taking on an almost cubist look, which mirrors some of the atmospheres of the music very well. L'Enfant et le M'nure is similar, but lyrics accompany the more defined, fittingly childish works.

But what really matters, of course, is the music contained within the thin slivers of plastic and aluminium we call CDs. The sonic expanse presented is remarkably dynamic, including mellow vocal passages, experimental electronic sections, and well-orchestrated avant-jazz pieces. If it weren't for the shared vocalist, these two bands would seemingly have very little to do with each other. And because of this, this album needs two almost completely different reviews.

First, Bath Salts. This two disc album is easily the more mellow of the two, with the music predominantly coming from a Celtic harp, e-harp, or related device which creates a truly pastoral and relaxing atmosphere. Of course, the album is not solely a harp-vocal duo, with many of the songs also featuring a full sized avant rock band to flesh out Claudio's compositions. The songs, in general, are fairly mellow, slow, and emotionally dense. Claudio's vocals reminded me of a cross between Franco Mussida and Laurie Anderson ' spoken word to a degree, but with a degree of RPI melody. The fusion complements the carefully constructed instrumentation perfectly, giving the mellow atmosphere a subtly haunting effect. Overall, the album is an experiment in emotional, mellow avant-prog, and Milano pulls this fusion off very well.

L'Enfant et le M'nure, however, is not quite as mellow. On this album, Milano pulls all the stops on experimentation, and the album shows. Both discs are a rollercoaster of revolving styles, atmospheres, and avant tendencies. While some bands do this same method and go overboard with experimentation, InSonar is able to keep the avant-garde nature of their music in check for an avant album which keeps the listener entertained and not alienated. L'Enfant also follows a more thematic form than Bath Salts as if follows the story of, as the title suggests, a child and a bird. Overall, the albums is definitely aimed at the more adventurous listener, and it takes a more open ear to enjoy, but the album is littered with bits of avant-garde gold as Milano shows he can write a mean work of avant magic.

In the end, this is album is definitely something to invest in if you are a fan of emotion- packed, experimental avant-prog. The four discs contain a world of experimental music, and anyone who is a fan of the genre is bound to find something pleasing to their ears while listening. While some parts can seem a bit off-beat at times, the swaths of music almost completely drown out the minor detriments of the album. Of course, to some, this three hour release may be a bit too much, but enjoyed individually, the boxset provides a nice immersion in Claudio Milano's work. 4 stars.

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 Bath Salts by NICHELODEON album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.49 | 11 ratings

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Bath Salts
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Man With Hat
Collaborator Jazz-Rock/Fusion 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.

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 NichelOdeon Boxset/Compilation, 2013
3.85 | 11 ratings

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NichelOdeon "Bath Salts" + InSonar "L'Enfant et le Ménure"
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Sometime ago I was asked to review this massive four CD package wrapped up in a nice cardboard box with two boolets containing lyrics as well as several drawings and pictures. I really don´t know why I was chosen to do it, given the fact that RIO/Avant-prog is hardly my cup of tea. I´m much more a "traditional" prog lover, who´s a sucker for nice melodies, as my review list might have shown to anybody who have cared to visit it. Anyway, claudio Milano was very kind to send those CDs and I decided to take the challenge.

It was not an easy task for me as you might have guessesd. The music inside those two double albums (each one previously released separetly, one by his band NichelOdeon and the other a side project called InSonar) is definitly intricated, bold and challeging. This is no background music at all! It demands all your atention and, at first, it sounded way too freakish for my taste. However, upon a few more spins I found it to be quite interesting and ended up enjoying the material. It´s certainly a grower: you have to listen carefully to the complex layers of sounds and its unsual musical structures (or lack of it). But unlike most avant gard material I´ve heard so far, the weirdness of some passages, the atonal musical parts and some pure experimentation rarely, or never, sounded gratuitous or self indulgent. The often inclusions of some more melodic and "straight" parts made it all the more balanced and digestable.

Of the two CDs, the InSonar is definitly the more experimental and difficult to get on to it. Still, it is very interesting, including some clever and very original versions of songs from others, like his take on the old french song Plaisir d'Amour or even David Bowie´s already unsual Warsawa . Milano is, definitly, a great singer and he has an awesome technique that may sound be a little over the top to most, but works very well for this kind of material. He is probalby the most accomplished and daring vocalist I´ve heard since the late Demetrius Statos. The long list of musicians playing in here is quite irrelevant, since even if you know some of the names on it (like Hawkwind´s Nik Turner and PFM´s Walter Calloni) the music inside has nothing to do with those aforementioned bands (and others). However, I found the music here to be quite mesmerizing and trippy, taking you into a journey through a lot of human feelings, good or bad. I did not get the lyrics, since my italian is quite poor to say the least, but even if I believe those words are an important part of the whole, you still can enjoy the ride without really getting into them. The performances are spotless and some instrumental parts are quite intriguing and beautiful in their own way.

Both record benefit form a crystal clear sound and production. That´s quite an achievement since both records have a wild variety of styles and atmospheres that really demand some fine sound engineering to get it right.

Conclusion: a very fine and unique work of a terrific singer and songwriter. It´s not easy to listen to so many different moments in a row, but it´s something quite rewarding if you pick up a few parts each time. While most avant prog/RIO stuff sounded pointless and just without any musical consistency to my ears so far, Milano´s work strikes me as a well balanced, profound and pleasant record overall, even if at times it does have some parts I couldn´t really get it. It was a very interesting experience and I´m glad I had the opportunity to listen to such unique piece of art.

I recommend these CDs to anyone who appreciates the style and to anyone who wants to get to know it.

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 NichelOdeon Boxset/Compilation, 2013
3.85 | 11 ratings

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NichelOdeon "Bath Salts" + InSonar "L'Enfant et le Ménure"
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars What makes progressive music so enchanting is the multiplicity of it's varied offerings, a wide palette of different possibilities that span the entire spectrum, from the concrete to the abstract, from song to noise and everything in between. While each fan has set their own personal parameters in what they enjoy, truth remains that most progfans relish more than just one style, giving them a greater grasp of sonic sensibilities.

No better introduction than this rather unique package from Claudio Milano, owner of a rare talent in our genre = a sensational voice, deeply rooted in Italian tradition of considering the lung/mouth alliance as an instrument all to itself. Previous reviewers have commented on similarities with Area's mythical singer Demetrios Statos, which to my ears is a too easy analogy. They both have stunning voices but Area's music was chaotic, at times gothic and mesmerizing, no hint of any harp anywhere. One can also name Alberto Piras of Deus Ex- Machina, another pyrotechnic rock band from Italy, but Milano is a totally different animal, closer to being a stage thespian merging with classical, avant-garde, opera and operetta than anything else. I cannot really think of anyone similar in North America or the UK. He has put together a massive 4 Cd package with copious artwork booklets that won't even fit in any conventional jewel box, creating a duality of works from the Baths Salts of Nickelodeon to the Insonar project named "L'Enfant et le M�©nure" .Being essentially a French schooled linguist, this last word was something new, so I researched it (I refuse to use the verb 'google' until they decide to end their world domination campaign) and it turns out it's an Australian bird! The stuff we learn in prog! Sheeeeesh!

Listening to 4 Cds is a gargantuan challenge for any audiophile especially when it's a style that is not devoted to an 'easy listen', so fans of Jouney, Boston, Asia and other more MOR styled artists should just bolt right now and head for the fridge to satiate their needs! The arduous audition will require patience, admiration for the sheer talent involved, solid reflection and profound introspection into the more ethereal inner world we all intrinsically possess.

The Nickelodeon 2 Cds as mentioned previously are under the Bath Salts moniker and are broken down in two distinct sections Capitolo I- D'Amore e di Vuoto and Capitolo II ? Di Guerre e Rinascite. We are immediately plunged into what is perhaps best described as modern-medieval, harp and voice in the forefront with a wide array of synthetic sounds and samples of the electronic variety. It's a beguiling listen, both complex and simple, easy and hard on the ear, turning hypnotic ("Un Posto Sicuro") and swathed in dense electronics. Milano has a wonderfully modulated voice, hitting various levels of tone and octaves. The underlying impression is one of disassociation with comfortable tendencies, a deliberate osmosis of styles and instruments (flutes, big beat drums, alto sax), some bells and whistles and sundry sounds. The entire side is the same avant-garde experimental music with a special twist and it's captivating only if you really involve yourself as a listener and let the sounds overcome whatever defenses you may set up. At times, Claudio makes noises with his lungs, mouth, tongue and lips that leap into the weird and the bizarre, which is surprising and fun. He yelps plaintive gulps of theatre, croons cabaret-style, grunts and groans, then dives into semi-operatic discourse, a voice that spans the gamut of emotions. Throw in some narration (semi-sung actually) and you get a prog-rock operetta with an encyclopedia worth of research. Yes, it's sung mostly in Italian but so is opera, so get over it! When he sings in English ("This Side of the Looking Glass"), the mood gets quite hysterical and creepy, as his plaintive rant gets washed in dense electronics. Other tracks have his voice multi-tracked into a mirror of a zillion tones, a flowery bouquet of vocal insanity. Some introduce cello to really extend the variety of sounds. Capitolo II is harsher, more war-like as the subtitle may indicate, still conducted by the mad voice and the eerie harp. I am reminded of some horror movie soundtrack, something the Italians did and still do quite well.

The 2 InSonar discs are quite different stylistically, closer to avant-jazz and even experimental rock, with classic covers of "Venus in Furs" (Velvet Underground), "Warszawa", David Bowie's stark classic from his Berlin days and Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren ", a standard torch song also covered by This Mortal Coil, a past (mid-80s) cousin with whom this music shares some common traits . All three are utterly interesting, mainly because they are quite recognizable yet aurally different. The first disc is titled "L'Enfant" , a coarse , exacting and punishing listen , though the final tracks are surprisingly intimidating, and the second CD called "Ashima" both literally soundtracks for the impossible movie playing in one's head, swanky Kafka-esque angst twirling into vocal vortexes that defy form and logic, yet they completely resonate and beguile. Experimental sonic workshops divulging extreme tendencies, ideal for the chaotic and urban vernissage your artist friend is planning next week, just make sure there is a lot of vodka on hand.

As stated by another reviewer, you need to queue up some heavy rock after this one, just to shake off the torpor of cocooned numbness that this music creates on any willing participant. At times gorgeous, intriguing, painful, mesmerizing and outer worldly, Milano is a talent that is completely unique and inspiring, boldly going where no one has gone before.

4 tortured ecstasies

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 NichelOdeon Boxset/Compilation, 2013
3.85 | 11 ratings

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NichelOdeon "Bath Salts" + InSonar "L'Enfant et le Ménure"
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars A lot of time is passed since when I received this boxset sent by Claudio Milano, but this is not a kind of music that you can put on you car audio system and listen to just in the background. As almost all the many Milano's side projects it requires attention and time.

Let's first speak about the package. Also this time there is no plastic other than the CDs, but the very "artist touch" is the little piece of rope which keeps the paper box closed. Inside, other than the four CD2 there are two booklets with the lyrics and some pictures. The pages, especially on the InSonar booklet remind me to the futurism of the first half of the 20th century.

Now the music: the first remarkable thing is of course the incredible vocal extension of Claudio Milano. Other than him there are very few singers with similar capabilities that I'm aware of: Boris Savoldelli of S.A.D.O. and the former Quintorigo singer John De Leo, but Claudio Milano is the one closer to the vocal experiments of the unlucky Demetrio Stratos. This means that his voice is one of the most important aspects of his music. But not only. The mixture of jazz, electronic and avantgarde music in general is relevant as well.

The two Nichelodeon albums are open by a harp prologue. Harp is quite omnipresent in this album and fits very well with Claudio's voice, especially on his highest notes. On "Un Posto Sicuro" (A Safe Place)the melody has a medieval flavor and it's a good contrast with the percussive background. The chorus has a very good melody, unusual in this genre. A part of the song seems sung in Japanese and it's followed by a coda and closed by an acapella last rhyme.

"Ricordo D'Infanzia" (Childhood's Memory) is incredible. The four harp chords sound medieval or even celtic but if I concentrate on the vocal melody it could come from the early 60s Italian pop, I think to Luigi Tenco. This is a lovely song with lyrics which deserve some attention. Sorry for non-italian speakers. Also on this song the coda changes drastically the song's mood.

Harp again on Surabaya Johhny, but this time instead of the melody we have a sort of teathrical monologue. Who speaks is likely a woman and this adds a touch of ambiguity to the song. The excellent chorus which dives in the same waters of Vangelis "One More Kiss, Dear" and the teathrical performance are again very vintage. I think to an Italian singer as Fred Buscaglione.

"Bolle" (Bubbles) is short. Musicaly I still hear a strong connection with the artsy pop of the first Italian singer-songwriters, these more influenced by the French chansonniers. "Rapporto Sulla Fine DI Una Storia" (report about the end of a story) is, for its melody, a sort of litany, lullaby or nursery rhyme, but it's accopanied by percussion and bells which make the "popular" feeling vanish. "(This Side of )The Looking Glass" has a strong RIO flavor, more than the other songs up to this point. It's closer to the Claudio's solo albums than to the Nichelodeon usual output. A little bit more challenging, but if you follow the melody I think it could be called jazz.. Something like Sinatra playing Carla Bley.

"Desiderio Nascosto"(Hidden Desire) is made of harp (played like a piano), cello and voice. It could have a classical feeling but Claudio's voice with the alternance of high and bass notes gives it the RIO touch. "7 Actions - Music for the Flesh" is a poetry. Claudio's voice is overdubbed several time, but don't think to Bobby McFerrin. He is later joined by tribal percussion. On this track we can hear all his vocal extension. Demetrio Stratos would have liked it.

This "first chapter", entitled "D'Amore e di Vuoto" (Of Love and Emptiness) ends with "Giulia". The subtitle means "born in seven months, dead at the first appointment". The melody is sweet. It's a sort of chamber rock, with mainly harp and flute creating an exciting background for Claudio's voice. The instrumental harp interlude is fantastic. This is the track that I've liked more in this first CD.

The Chapter Two, "Di Guerre e di Rinascite" (Of Wars and Rebirths) starts with "Terra" This word in Italian has many possible meanings: "Earth, Land, Ground, Dirt, Soil" to say few. Listening to the lyrics, I think that "Ground" is the best translation. The melody is obsessive and dark, with drums and double bass in evidence.

It's followed by "Alla Statua Dei Martiri Di Gorla" (To the Monument for Gorla's Martyrs). It has a sad melody and sounds like an epitaph. It was October 20th of 1944 when the Americans bombarded a school killing 184 children. The orders where misinterpreted and the aircrafs turned 22 degrees right instead of left destroying the school instead of a factory. Ok, this is not speaking of music, but even non-italian speakers can appreciate this song, poetry more than a song, knowing what it's about.

"Fuoco Amico (Mai N.A.T.O.)" Friend Fire, where NATO is the Atlantic Alliace, proceeds on this line with a joke about the two words of the title. The melody is very dark thanks also to the cello.

"Trittico 50 mg"(Triptych) has more hermetic lyrics. I have the impression that Claudio is joined by another singer here, instead of being overdubbed. This song is full of musical ideas. I really like what the harp does in this track.

"Johnny Dei Pirati"(Pirates' Johnny) Has a theathrical mood, like a part of an opera. More than just a rock opera I think to Bertolt Brecht. Another very good track with a very consistent melody.

Another war in another time: at the end of 15th Century all the inhabitants of Otranto (about 800 persons) were killed by the troups of the Turkish sultan Ahmet Pasha because the refused the conversion to Islam. Antonio Primaldo is a Catholic Saint. The legend says that after his head was cut, his body stood up in front of the sultan. The song is melodic and quite "light".

"L'urlo Ritrovato"(Rediscovered Scream) is initially sung in Latin. For what I can understand is like a prayer , or the parody of a prayer to Mary and Jesus. After the first part in Latin the Italian lyrics become "crazy". This is another operatic song on which Claudio is joined by a female vocalist. It's the longest song of the Nichelodeon's double CD and the central part of the track is one of the most challenging. The part of drums and brasses explores the free- jazz landscapes. I don't know on which track Calloni and Tofani guested, but this part sounds quite AREA.

"Un Posto Sicuro #2" is the reprise of "A Safe Place", but the medieval mood is disappeared. It has a chamber arrangement on a melody which sounds classic RPI. "Finale(Ninna Nanna)"(Final - Lullaby) is what the ttle says,but of course the lyrics are a tragic parody of a traditional one.

"Portami Un Fiore"(Bring Me A Flower) is a short dissonant closer. Again there's the contrast between a chaotic and dissonant base and the melody sung by Claudio. It's a strange closure. Even if not properly a concept there's a red line across all the tracks. "Finale" would have been perfect as last track, this seems quite an appendix.

However, this is an excellent double album that requires listeners in the right mood and available to pay the right amount of attention to it.

Now the second "double CD" of the boxset. The project is InSonar and even here there's a lot of guests from every part of the world: all the five continents are represented here. It's mainly a duo composed by Claudio Milano and Marco Tuppo, but just give look to the guests list on the album's page. The story of prog, and not only prog, is there.

InSonar is a different project. Maybe less challenging than Nichelodeon is naturally based on Claudio Milano's voice. The first track "The Simpsons Sing Gounod" is a kind of a joke, with Claudio's voice overdubbed in a crazy choir which we can imagine as the Simpsons.

A friend told me that the chorus of "L'Estasi Di Santo Nessuno"(The ecstasys of Saint Nobody) reminds to the PFM "Dolcissima Maria". This only to say that the connection with the classic RPI is evident as with Nichelodeon, but this project is not as dark as Bath Salts is.

"La Stanza A Sonagli" jokes again with the words. It can be translated as "rattleroom" as a "Serpente A Sonagli" is a rattlesnake . A difference respect to Nichelodeon is the use of electronics. After two minutes we are in a sort of drone enriched by Claudio's high pitches. It's not too dissimilar from the experimental side of Battiato in the late 70s.

"Thief Of Toys" is quite different so that I had the suspect that it could have been a cover of some song that I don't know. For some reason it has reminded me to Patti Smith's "Land".

"L'Inventasogni"(The Dreammaker) is the first track which can be called "difficult". Possibly the picture on the InSonar's album cover is inspired to this song. This is mainly a piece of free jazz with piano drums and sax in great shape.

"Menura Latham" is pure avantgarde with a bit of electronics based principally on drums and percussion. I can't describe it. Just listen. "Gallia #1" seems sung in French. The flavor is French as well. It's like a "Chansonnier's" song contaminated by avant arrangements. You can hear Claudio singing on high pitches and taking one very high and powerful note.

Now surprise: a Velvet Underground's cover. "Venus In Furs". Different enough from the original version but still recognisable. Here Claudio sings on bass pitches. More thanto Velvets to me it sounds more close to Joy Division.

"Dieci Bambini Cacao"(Ten Cocoa Children) is opened by keyboards and sounds very electronic. The song itself reminds me of Nichelodeon's "Malamore E La Luna" which is one of my favorite Nichelodeon's songs.

Finally, "Hamelinvoice" is another joke on words. Hamlin is the city of the "magic flute" of the Grimm's brothers. Claudio uses his voice instead of a flute. The story of Hamlin which is likely derived from something really happened in the year 1264 could sound like a horror story.

The first of the two InSonar CDs, "Enfant" is gone. To "Ashima" now.

"Liberami - Tabernacolo Erotico"(Free me - Erotic tabernacle) is a jazzy and electronic improvisation (maybe). Chaotic.

"Song To The Siren" is a Tim Buckley cover. It's I think the first time that guitar can be heard on this album. The song is fantastic and this cover, even though very different from the original, keeps the song's mood intact.

"Cancion Del Jinete" is a poetry by Federico Garcia Lorca. Knowing this fact, we can appreciate the "Andalician mood" of the track. I know that somebody else has put it in music, but this is the first version that I hear. The violin which emerges from the chaos is a great idea.

"La Torre Piu' Alta"(The highest Tower) has a middle-eastern floky flavor. The untuned notes sung by Claudio an remind to a Muezzi, then they change into a sort of Berber chant. After this intro the music is clearly arabic. An unusual ethno-folk effort with an unexpected jazz clarinet in the middle. It smoothly looses the ethnic element to be transformed into a noisy track, then back to North Africa. The lyrics may be both Arabic or Hebrew, I can't say.

After this chaos the famous romance composed in the 18th century by Jean Paul Martini appears strange, but it's just the first impression. It's so weirdly arranged that it can be recognized only because the chorus is so well-known.

Another cover: The Eno-Bowie "Warszawa" from "Low" (my first Bowie purchase many years ago). Calling it a cover may seem inappropriate as I can hardly recognize it, but it's one of the most relaxing tracks of the whole boxset.

"Gallia #2" starts instrumental and is sung in Italian, so not what one could expect from a #2. It's not what I mean as a follow-up or a second part. This is a challenging track. After about 4 hours of music, a track of this kind is not easy to listen.

"Medina" has a very slow crescendo from the initial silence. After about two minutes there's a major chord growing, then becoming minor. I can call it Progressive Electronic. It reminds me to Alio Die, even in the use of percussion.

After listening to the whole in one shot I need some rock and roll....jokes apart, this is a split release and the originals are effectively two double CDs, not a unique 4CD thing, so I can't say that the length is a defect. Both the albums are challenging and even if both are Claudio Milano's projects, they are very different. Dark and dramatic the first, Experimental and jazzy the second.

There's still something that doesn't make my cry for the masterpiece, but 4 stars are well deserved for both the albums. Enjoy. Just be sure to be in the right mood.

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 NichelOdeon Boxset/Compilation, 2013
3.85 | 11 ratings

BUY
NichelOdeon "Bath Salts" + InSonar "L'Enfant et le Ménure"
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "Bath Salts" / "L'Enfant Et Le Menure" is a box-set featuring a double disc recording from NICHELODEON along with a double disc recording from a band called INSONAR. Claudio Milano the gifted singer from Italy is the connection between the two projects as he sings on both works. I've already reviewed the NICHELODEON discs seperately on this site so i'll focus on the INSONAR discs. INSONAR is basically Claudio Milano and Marco Tuppo with an enormous amount of guests helping out. Some will recognize several of these musicians like Nik Turner(HAWKWIND), Paolo Tofani(AREA), Walter Calloni who played with PFM in the eighties, Richard Ingram who played on OCEANSIZE's first Ep, Trey Gunn & Pat Mastellotto(KING CRIMSON), Graham Clark who played with GONG in the nineties, Dieter Moebius(CLUSTER) and many, many more. I much prefer these two discs to the NICHELODEON ones in this box set as they instrumentally match the adventerous and challenging vocals of Claudio Milano. I found this true as well of NICHELODEON's "Il Gioco Del Silenzo" record where the music was as entertaining as the vocals which is something I felt was missing with the NICHELODEON discs in this box-set.

Up first is the "L'Infant" disc at almost 60 minutes in length. The first thing we hear on the first track "The Simpsons Sing Gounod" is Claudio's high pitched scream as it were before he continues with vocal expressions. Not much else going on here other than that though. Not a good start and "L'Istali Di Santo Nessuno" doesn't do much to change that. "La Stanza A Sonagli" is where I start to get excited as before 2 minutes we get a lot of atmosphere as Claudio offers up some vocal expressions. So good ! "Thief Of Toys" opens with piano before Claudio sings in English. Other instruments help out but the focus is on the lyrics here. Nice sax later on. "L'Inventasogni" is an eerie track with laid back vocals that match the haunting atmosphere. Sax, drums and piano only standout later. Nice.

"Menura Latham" opens with what sounds like a music box playing in slow motion. Other intricate sounds take over in this eerie piece. I like it ! It gets intense late. "Gallia #1" is again spooky with vocals to match. Haunting sounds sweep across the soundscape. Amazing ! "Venus In Furs" was written by Lou Reed apparently. The vocals are deep and determined here and I love the atmosphere. Another winner. "Dieci Bambini Cacao" features a ton of atmosphere as laid back vocals join in. There are some really cool instrumental sounds on this one. "Hamelinvoice" ends disc one. Again it's spooky before the vocals join in but the eerie mood continues throughout.

Disc two is called "Ashima" and it clocks in at 40 minutes. It's my favourite of the two discs. "Liberami- Tabernacolo Erotico" opens with creepy vocals and the music to match. Gottal love when the intensity rises with sax. Love the last minute that brings UNIVERS ZERO to mind. "Song To The Siren" was written in part by Tim Buckley. This sounds so good to start with the atmosphere. I know i'm repeating myself alot when it comes to the atmosphere but I love it. Vocals join in and they almost sound cosmic here. Beautiful stuff. The female vocal melodies late bring IN THE WOODS... to mind. "Cancion Del Jinete" opens with sounds that echo before these angry vocals take over with a background that is adventerous to say the least. Crazy but oh so good. "La Torre Piu Alta" is almost Eastern sounding to start as vocal melodies help out. Different is the word here but man this is good. Like a deranged version of a DEAD CAN DANCE song with that World music flavour.

"Plaisir D'Amour" is certainly out there with the vocal expressions and laughter but the music works perfectly with them. Check out the creepy atmosphere 1 1/2 minutes in. Love when it picks up a minute later without vocals. This reminds me of KING CRIMSON but more haunting of course. "Warwaza" written by Bowie and Eno is a slow moving affair and the vocals don't arrive until around 4 minutes in. "Gaillia #2" is haunting with strings and lots of atmosphere. "Medina" ends it and it sounds like mellotron sweeping through in waves early on. Gorgeous sounds throughout this track.

I'm giving this box-set 4 stars overall. It's packaged beautifully and while I feel the NICHELODEON discs aren't as good as the INSONAR ones, there's enough here to recommend it for those who are into adventerous music.

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