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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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Il Gioco Del SilenzioIl Gioco Del Silenzio
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NICHELODEON discography


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

3.89 | 39 ratings
Il gioco del silenzio
2010
3.55 | 14 ratings
Bath Salts
2013
4.33 | 14 ratings
UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar)
2014

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

3.38 | 7 ratings
Cinemanemico
2008
3.70 | 6 ratings
No
2012
3.98 | 4 ratings
Musica Cruda
2013

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

4.19 | 8 ratings
Come Sta Annie?
2010

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

3.67 | 12 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
 UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar) by NICHELODEON album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.33 | 14 ratings

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UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar)
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by VOTOMS

5 stars Review n° 235

Nichelodeon's distrubed lullabies, and a short film reccomended by me to David Lynch fans.

Nichelodeon UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar) / QUICKWORKS & DEADWORKS is a CD+DVD project and conducted by Claudio Milano and a huge ammount of people (and seems each one had written it's own arrangement), a list too extended to post here, sorry. When I got the album files, there were so many stuff I didn't even know where to begin. Pictures, an experimental/surreal movie -probably inspired by David Lynch short films & Jodorowsky- directed by Pietro Cinier (never heard of his name before, but great weird job, man!), something like a nonsensical photo slide show featuring a romance with a skeleton furry toy, and a music album. The music presented on the album is absolutely hard listening, and it deals with water and ocean subjects. While listening to the album I thought of retarded children in a haunted submarine-hospital driven by an ethereal moanin' friendly jellyfish secretly carrying evil intentions. Fok Progressivo In Opposition distmembered leftovers randomly clued to each other. That's nice.

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 UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar) by NICHELODEON album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.33 | 14 ratings

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UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar)
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars Both NICHELODEON and InSONAR are projects initiated by the vocal star of the show Claudio Milano who created these projects to be large collectives designed to revolve around a rotating cast of avant-proggers who want to create some most unconventional music. NICHELODEON dates back to 1997 while InSONAR only began in 2010. On this collaborative affair the two collectives merge to bring us some of the most fluid and visceral music i have ever heard. This is one of the most complex albums i have ever listened to and likewise one of the most difficult to review. Everything about this album demands extreme diligence in paying attention to the details. Even the titles are complex! This album is officially a collaborative release called UKIYOE (MONDI FLUTTANTI) / QUICKWORKS & DEADWORKS. The artists are NICHELODEON with InSONAR and FRANCESCO PALADINO. Let me clarify this for you. This is a double release that contains one CD and one DVD. The CD musical journey is performed by NICHELODEON with InSONAR and it is titled UKIYOE (MONDI FLUTTANTI) while the DVD part was created by FRANCESCO PALADINO and is titled QUICKWORKS & DEADWORKS.

The theme of the whole project actually revolves around water. Water is the focus because it such a main component of all of life and the main constituent that allows our planet to sustain it. This work is chock full of symbology and once i inquired into the subtler meanings i was bombarded with all kinds of analogies, proverbs and unlikely influences. Worry not for you don't have to understand all of this to enjoy this music but it does allow you to explore as deeply as you wish. Putting that into the context of water, you can either choose to merely skim the shallow shores and only get your feet wet or if you are brave enough you can plunge into the deepest recesses of the the oceanic trenches where only bio-illuminating creatures break the cold abysmal monotony.

Claudio has explained to me that these musical expressions were created in the 2013-14 time continuum when he experienced profound insight and spent an entire month creating the accompanying beautiful paintings and illustrations that grace front, back, the inside and out with a whole little booklet included. Everything on this release is tied to the overall theme starting with the visual art itself. The jellyfish serve as an omen of how beauty can be dangerous, fragile and most of all fleeting, which brings us to the title of the album.

The title of the album UKIYOE comes from UKIYO MONOGATARI which is a concept that was put out in the first works of Asai Ryōi (浅井 了意?, c. 1612 ? January 29, 1691) who was a Bhuddist priest in the early Edo period in Japan. UKIYO is the concept that life is transitory and nothing lasts forever and that one's energy must be put into lasting spiritual matters that would continue on to the next life. I see the jellyfish as representing the beauty of the physical world but the dangers of handling matters in the wrong way can leave you wounded and scarred with precious energies wasted and a spiritual stinging. The imagery of the jellyfish and impressionist artwork lends well to the music at hand with its often ethereal and ability to evoke a sort of liquid conscious response to its fluidity and rhythmic drifting hither and tither like a jellyfish at the mercy of the tides. The music itself seems to follow the same ebbs and flows only in the sonic ethers of music.

The music was constructed in a most ambitious way. Each member created his/her own arrangement for each track with Claudio Milano acting as the conductor as well as avant-opera star. The tracks were mixed with the contributions of the acting members in order to create the larger-than-life kaleidoscope of sound that this music exudes. On board with this project are several musicians with an interactive orchestra that amounts to over 30 individuals. The music is really hard to pigeon-hole into any particular category and is fairly eclectic but there is a strong underlying theme of both Mediterranean cafe music with a heavy use of traditional accordion sounds, classical opera and on the wilder sides can conjure up Henry Cow, early King Crimson and even some jazz, electronica, drones and percussive outbursts that find their way into the mix. The music tends to begin the album on the more accessible side and ends with a kind of Krautrock chaotic ending.

Each track is filled with complex life experiences dealing with all kinds of human experiences that tend to be quite difficult. For example:

1 Veleno (Poison) is a tale of a failed son who wants to die but cannot bring himself to suicide for love of his parents so he turns to the fantasy world to escape life's disappointments

2 Fi(j)ùru d'Acqua (Flower/Son of Water) takes lyrics from a Rilke poem and deals with concept of nature as benign and creator of all beauty.

3 Marinaio (Sailor) deals with the concept of needing to kill in order to survive and how promises can become betrayal.

4 Ohi Mà - Nel Mare che hai Dentro ? (Oh Mother! About the Sea you have Inside) is about the reduction of dreams and dignity to mere economics in order to survive in a world where everything has become a market commodity. This track is sung in a local dialect of Southern Italy.

5 I Pesci dei tuoi Fiumi (The Fish of your Rivers) is taken from Ezekiel in the Old Testament where God is described as the Bringer Of Abundance.

6 MA(r)LE is the agglutination of "Mar (sea)" and "Male (evil)" in Italian and represents the sea as a bearer of death as an uncontrollable fury such as experienced by the shipwrecked people in the short DVD film that accompanies the disc.

Ah, now for the film! It is a short one at just over 26 minutes. It is tied in to the overall theme of the music and is presented in a surreal detached manner. In this regard it reminds me of "Eraserhead" in the fact that there are long dramatic pauses accompanied by TV narration and just plain strangeness! It starts with two couples, one older and one younger staring at the boat that they had to dock because of a reported storm. They decide to wait it out in one section of a castle i presume. The next twenty minutes or so shows them mostly staring at each other but interacting in strange ways. I have only seen this once and it obvious there's all kinds of subtext to it all. The dialogue is minimal with most talk being from a TV narration about snakes! It is very surreal to say the least. Claudio's vocal acrobatics pop in from time to time with some accordion music. I was originally unable to view the DVD because of those damned regional variations that prevent us in North America from viewing European DVDs but Claudio was gracious enough to convert it to a file i could download. Grazie :)

All i can say is this is one strange album but it has more than enough to reel you in instantly and then keep you hooked by constantly unleashing new surprises. It is as murky as the turbulent ocean and as placid as an alpine lake. The interaction of the musicians is impeccable and the orchestral cooperation is on the highest level of professionalism. I will have to count this one as a slow burner and one that gets better the more i experience it. Claudio has the vocal range of Celine Dion but the creative display of Mike Patton. The accompanying vocalists seem to dance together in the sonic dance floor and the instrumentation can create the most pleasant and addictive melodies or act as the musical equivalent of a tsunami crashing against the shores sweeping all life and structures out to sea. While i can't say i comprehend every aspect of the symbology i have learned about this release, i can say that i have been really enjoying this one a lot lately and since this is my very experience of anything by NICHELODEON or InSONAR i have high hopes that there is much more intricate creativity just bursting out in other releases. Highly recommended.

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 Musica Cruda by NICHELODEON album cover Live, 2013
3.98 | 4 ratings

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Musica Cruda
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by admireArt
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Cabaret in opposition!

NICHELODEON's, 2013 live "Musica Cruda" displays the synthesizer like abilities of Claudio Milano's voice, accompanied in this up-front solitary quest by the early Renaissance music like background of Raoul Moretti's talents (harps, effects, slides, archetto) as he plays along the environments for Milano to dwell with his very personal poetry and highly emotional and dramatic voice (thus the comparison with Cabaret music).

I personally was thrown back to my youthful days of Dadaistic explorations here in Mexico City and although I witnessed many great acts, this experience as such is far more mature as far as music composition goes.

It responds directly also to Claudio Milano's very intimate vocal musical expressions and his song writing concept, which in this collection of live songs, sets the tone for a "less is more" performance and yes it is far better and really gutsy!

Nevertheless I have to emphasize Moretti's minimal but effective time-machine performance, which acts as a catalytic converter to Milano's obscure and irreverent yet intelligent poetry and deliriums.

****4 " beauty and the beast " PA stars.

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 UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar) by NICHELODEON album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.33 | 14 ratings

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UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar)
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Prog Reviewer Retired Admin

4 stars Olives

Fellow esteemed reviewers have already gone into detail about this highly interesting offering from Claudio Milano and his cohorts Nichelodeon. Fact of the matter is this man has been rummaging round the outskirts of the Italian prog world for nigh on a decade now - still very much the outsider. Hell one of the first times I spoke to him over mails, he mentioned this outsider status had rubbed off to the outside world - leading the cutting edge RIO festival in Carnaux to ditch him because he didn't make the kind of music they were looking for.

So he's not RIO or avant enough for the cool cats in France, and he's not close enough to the old prog rock of yesteryear to be mentioned in the same breath. Basically this music is outside of the norm - beyond stickers. That additionally means it makes it almost impossible to convey in words just how this really sounds......that is without resorting to the glib ways of nonsense, which I naturally am about to do:

In many ways you could say that Ukiyoe sounds like a series of disturbing lullabies handed over to you by a vocal sorcerer of the wind....or maybe this is neoclassical folk music with a romantic yodeller floating elegantly overhead?

No matter how you approach this bugger you'll be struggling with your boxes. There just aren't any befitting ones available. To me that is a good thing. Considering that 90% of the current prog scene is enamoured with a style of music that seized to be progressive some 40 years ago - again and again trying to regurgitate a sense of structural complexity and far reaching sonic and intellectual motifs, it becomes all the more important that people like Claudio and his compatriots actually try to focus on what made prog of the 70s so vital and fresh, although with a completely new sound behind them.

With over 30 musicians lending a hand to this massive project one could easily be lead into thinking that Ukiyoe is a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. That is not the case though. The tunes all reek of intimacy and acoustic instruments - like a small gig in a beautiful shrubbery with harp and violin players dangling from the trees.

For points of reference........hmmm yeah...maybe go back to the earlier glib descriptions - that's all I can say. That and then occasionally I'm reminded of the wonderful operatic lunacy of yet another Italian group: Opus Avantra. Whilst they were fronted by one furious woman named Donella Del Monaco, it's the music and overall feel I'm referring to here. The combination of wildly experimental, yet at the same time gentle and soothing, vocals and this wafting kind of modern classical music rather mimics or indeed reflects some of the same strengths as Ukiyoe. To top it all off throw in some electronics, carefully placed usage of dissonance, folk music that isn't folk, classical music that isn't classical, bongos, the sound of seagulls, the odd drone and........wait for it.............. a boat! -Then you're almost there.

In truth, there is no way on earth to properly explain how this album sounds, and I find that exhilarating to say the least. If we are ever to find the spark that once lit up the 70s in fire and flame, then we have to start looking in places we haven't looked before. We have to be willing to taste a bit of something new before we proceed to knock it.

I hated olives growing up. They tasted like an unwashed bellybutton or wet lycra socks, that is until I overcame my fears and tasted them again at 29. My girlfriend at the time were lying in bed with me - obviously more interested in munching on something indefinable from beneath the bed than watching The Shining with your's truly. She then kissed me softly, but instead of enjoyment and the subsequent hand down her trousers, I was repelled by the smell coming off her breath. WTF had she been eating!?!?!?!!! Yup, turns out it was olives. Irritated by this pseudo Greek lying next to me and the fact that I had to stay with her for the remainder of the night, I decided to take the plunge... 'Hand over one of those bad boys baby'...and wow am I glad I did! Not only did I overcome my fear of olives - I additionally got into her panties.

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 UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar) by NICHELODEON album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.33 | 14 ratings

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UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar)
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Exceptions. Exceptions to the conformism of modern society and its abusive Ministry of entertainment that has always sought to shovel the same pre-fabricated pap/sonic manure on millions of ovine obedience adherents. Prog has always been the bastion of rock adventurism and promoted rebellious disdain for the formulaic pop foisted on us all. Yet even within the prog community, with so many options, there is a certain amount of loyalty to a few styles, perhaps at the expense of others that would merit at least more interest. As team collaborators, we have the duty and the privilege to decide the level of progressive content and suggest inclusion or exclusion into Progarchives. Hence, we are asked to examine recordings that might not necessarily be our favorite style but fueled by the prog guidelines, we can somehow judge accordingly. Enter Claudio Milano, a multi-octave singer of incredible talent, fluent in many facets of art even beyond music and a visionary musician with a multitude of ideas and the tools to deliver them. His previous work with In Sonar and Nickelodeon was well-received by the community and this latest release goes into even higher elevations of creativity, that bodes well for both his future fame and our acceptance as progressive fans. Clearly avant-garde music, even in its classical phase at the turn of the 20th century, was always about a special relationship between artist and audience, in some cases impossible to enjoy unless physically present with the musicians. As a fine example of this theory, I experienced a live concert in Budapest, an odd 2 part presentation of Richard Strauss, followed by Bela Bartok. The Viennese classic piece was enjoyable in that everyone in the house recognized it as a familiar if not famous section from the opera Don Juan but was literally blown off the stage by Bartok's excitingly dissonant string quartets, with so much angst and Kafka-esque anguish that the whole audience was perspiring heavily, even the buzzing solitary fly landed for a breather! Visceral, personal and yet deeply emotional. Listening to "Ukiyoe", one gets the same impression of distance, of oblivion, of escape and of adventure that affects and infects each listener in distinctly different ways, the polar opposite of pop music, if you will.

Normally, a track by track breakdown is something this scribe prefers, as a complete understanding of an album can only be achieved by describing the constituent elements that make up an opus of this, or any progressive calibre. Our colleague "Aldebaran Well" has expressed this so utterly perfectly that I will humbly and willingly desist and urge you to defer to his visionary words with avid interest, as he is spot on in his vivid descriptions. The lovely package comes with splendiferous artwork, a DVD movie of a separate work by filmmaker Francesco Paladino which can be enjoyed entirely on its own, as well as the CD that handles all the lush music we live and breathe for.

Instead, may I take this opportunity to put into words the kind of emotions I have channeled in listening to this breathless music, a lyrical descriptive of the statuesque sounds and the tectonic rhythms, as well as all the interval silences that provide the joyful drama embedded within this release. This is perhaps the ultimate goal of the artist, to have each listener identify their own internal muse, channel their receptors and then provide images to the brain, like some virtual or sonic LSD of sorts. There is a house of multiple vocal doors, the voices used as vehicle for expressive spirituality, shrill walls of stridency, profound balconies of reverberation and Claudio Milano using his arsenal of tones, with operatic insanity. The overall feel is somewhere in the realm of a futuristic ritual of kaleidoscope lungs, screeching orchestrations and eyes pointed skywards. The voice swoons into a cauldron of sizzling electronics, colliding dissonance with praetorian beats, lilting piano rivulets, minimalist convictions in a psychotic universe, the leather pigeons in the piazza wondering who will feed them next, the martinets losing their control over the airwaves, the hustle and bustle of the night denizens gulping down a final Amaro, before seducing their pillow. The osso bucco was really quite divine, signorina! The never tardy train rolls into Termini station, disgorging the coastal sailor seagulls searching for the nearest fish monger, psychopath urgencies whispering sweet everythings into the night lady's ear, alternating collapse and distant erection and finally drowning in their own liquescent fears. Oceans bubble, flying bulbous eyed fish leap into the saline sky, blustery clouds and gale force winds, all compressed into the tiniest velvet-rimmed box. Mephisto seduces, lying through his bloodstained teeth, laughing and bellowing at the innocents, the 'pazzi ragazzi' who only care about their next sensational fix, Morse code to the submariners scouring the abyss. An oceanic empire of ghostly gods, Neptune sitting on a reef, blowing a blowfish with his blowtorch while the Greek Poseidon is counting his deutschmarks (I know, its euros!), while Volturnus, Salacia, Juturna and Fontus play floating plastic cards on the back of some giant tortoise. The accordion leaks, the moray eels coughing up phlegm, the violin scales filleting the sordid sturgeon, emptying its filth onto the Via Appia.

Challenging musical adventure that is so off the charts, clearly the antithesis of pop culture, a delirious soundtrack to spook your unfriendly, square Lady Gaga-loving neighbors and the ideal background music for a naval academy diploma celebration. Like the Pope recently stated in his Argentine-tinged Italian, "In Questo cazzo"!

4.5 Venomous mariners

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 NichelOdeon Boxset/Compilation, 2013
3.67 | 12 ratings

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

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Bath Salts + InSonar "L'Enfant et le Ménure' - NichelOdeon/InSonar (59/100)

I don't think it would be fair to call Bath Salts + L'Enfant et le Mènurea real 'split' album; both are driven by the same core member (Claudio Milano) and both operate by similar guidelines. Both NichelOdeon and InSonar could be resomably described as 'avant-ambient' progressive rock, both projects' included albums are unreasonably long, both projects highlight Claudio Milano as a brilliant vocalist, and both employ far more guest musicians than they rightly know what to do with. In a sense, L'Enfant et le Mènure and Bath Salts are close mirrors of one another. While the former goes for an 'everything but the sink' approach to avant-prog (that ultimately leaves it feeling indistinct) Bath Salts grounds the sound a little more, cutting out some of the unnecessary filler and capitalizing purely on Milano's voice. Between the two, Bath Salts is endlessly better than its counterpart. Listening to the two back-to-back only reinforces this notion.

Eating up over three hours cumulatively, Bath Salts + L'Enfant et le Mènure isn't something I would recommend be heard in a single listen. Even one of these albums can be tough to get through at once; not necessarily due to the quality but the aimlessly subdued instrumentation shared by both albums. Even the strongest material here demands a level of patience some listeners may not have. If you're thinking about getting into this, check out the first disc of Bath Salts; it's the most grounded and consistent of the four CDs, and arguably delivers the best experience. As a final word, I'd like to bring attention to the album's packaging. The cardboard layer atop the CDs and booklets is plain, save for the green imprint of lips atop it. I think it reflects the music here fairly well; minimalism, with an almost out-of-place theatrical touch.

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 Bath Salts by NICHELODEON album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.55 | 14 ratings

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Bath Salts
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Bath Salts' - NichelOdeon (74/100)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar) by NICHELODEON album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.33 | 14 ratings

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UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar)
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Aldebaran_Well

5 stars Dear reader: Imagine a puzzle that is consisted of thousands of tiny pieces that form a wonderful, colorful but somehow abstract and blurred picture, one that you are not so sure about what it shows. Now, try to imagine that this picture is moving, that there is motion in this puzzle and that every time you're looking at it, it seems different, as if dimensions, angles and colours dance in a mysterious movement. Finally, transfer this impression from the realm of sight to the realm of hearing, transform vision into sound and you'll start to have an idea what ''UKIYOE'' is about. Reviewing such an artistic construction is really challenging and we have to clarify the basics first.

This release comes in a beautiful digipack and contains one cd and one dvd. The first disc is Nichelodeon/InSonar's ''UKIYOE'' (Mondi Fluttuanti) - meaning Flowing World - and the dvd features Francesco Paolo Paladino's short film '' Quickworks & Deadworks''. We'll say some things about the film later, for now let me just say that, though the two projects can be enjoyed separately, it's their unification that provides a full aspect of how grandiose this work truly is.

Nichelodeon and InSonar are two different collectives led by the mastermind vocalist/composer/lyricist/painter/visionary Claudio Milano. These collectives join forces for this concept and Milano, along with the sound engineer Paolo Siconolfi and Paladino, is the unquestionable maestro of this effort. Claudio's unbelievable 7 octave-ranged voice may outshine everything else but don't underestimate the other two guys ' part. Paladino provided the primary idea for ''UKIYOE'' and Paolo's outstanding work holds everything together. If Claudio's voice is planet earth then Paolo's soundscapes are its axis. This duo coordinates a tremendous 30 people personnel, producing any sound, instrument or mood you can imagine, in only 45 ecstatic minutes. It seems that the cream of Italian - and not only - avant scene is gathered here. Representatives of other collectives (OTEME, Deadburger Factory, Alessandro Seravalle of Genoma and of the mighty Garden Wall, to name a few), composers, classical and jazz musicians, experimentalists, etc. One might be concerned that such an ambitious gathering would create a chaotic result but fear not: every sound and performance, no matter how epic or tiny, serves a specific role in forming the big picture I described earlier. Everyone is in balance before the great artistic aspiration of creating a magnus opus.

The thematical core of the concept is water - literally and metaphorically, as I perceive it. The state of flowing, in mind-body-spirit, as Plato would say, the realization of life and of the world as a constantly moving organism that one cannot grasp, imprison or entirely comprehend, a mystical entity of its own. The music delivers the same ''liquidness'', it always slips your fingers the exact moment you think you caught it. Don't expect genre analysis here, it is pointless. If I said to you that there are classical, jazz, RIO, electronic and whatever else elements, this would be a hubris to art itself. This is avant garde music at its best, art beyond space and time and as every great avant album, it cannot be fit into words but can only be experienced. The depth of the experience depends on the listener: if you surrender to it, you will be wholeheartedly rewarded.

Before proceeding to the album tracks, a very important fact in ''UKIYOE'' must be explained. All music is built in an interactive manner. This means that during the production, each channel of sound has been treated in an aperformative way - in Claudio's words - raised and lowered spontaneously, so that the right conceptual mood is expressed, making studio console the final and definitive creative tool. This produces asymmetrical sounds and catalysis of form but, thanks to the excellent production and sound design, no sound ''hole'' or ''peak'' is ever being realized. Instruments come and go unexpectedly, in unpredictable colors and rhythms, like an anarchic tide. Still, the higher law of nature rules all tides, as art rules this album's unconventional form, sounds and structures. A deeper harmony can be sensed. The final factor of interaction comes from the listener: Having to focus on so many different sources and aesthetics means that every listening differs from the other. The listener has the power to shape '' UKIYOE'' by will, depending on his/her receiving point of view. So, it's time to dive in this musical ocean!

Track 1: Veleno (Venom, thankfully in the booklet all titles and lyrics are translated in English), 6'35''. Lyrics by Milano. This Milano/Siconolfi composition is the perfect introduction as it is relatively easy to approach. It is the most classical song of the album and is based on Claudio's operatic vocals -supported by soprano Laura Catrani. His performance is almost frenzy as he goes up and down in notes and modes for 6 minutes, building amazing harmonies and demonstrating the melodic strength of his voice. Strings support this atmosphere whereas the clarinet is also a bit jazzy. In the middle, an almost drone part steps in (obviously Seravalle is the man responsible), strings grow tension and walls of sounds and effects lay discretely at the back. It's probably my idea but I sense an irony in Claudio's performance in the major parts, especially if the surrealism and deep agony of the lyrics are taken into account. In the second part, Luca Pissavini's upright bass is simply genius. ''Veleno'' is astonishing, mild as a summer breeze but with many treasures if you dig in.

Track 2: ''Fi(j)uru d' Acqua'' (Flower/Son of Water), 4'52'', based on a Rilke's poem. (If you haven't read Rilke's poetry, well, you should visit the nearest library right now). This is probably the album's most ''prog'' moment, mainly because of the complex time signatures and the brilliant arrangement of many different sounds and grooves. Great performing and orchestrating work by OTEME's Stefano Giannoti here. In the beginning, the song is structured upon the piano and electronics of the composer Josed Chirudli (the electronic rock of Puscifer came to my mind) before it is all smashed into pieces. The percussion parts are truly majestic, Claudio's lines are quite abstract and the harmonium (which is the basic instrument throughout the whole record) creates a certain color of melancholy, all forming a ''Mediterranean Rock In Opposition'' indeed. This flower blooms in both poetic and schizophrenic ways!

Track 3: ''Marinaio'' (Sailor), 9'06'', lyrics by Paladino. Vittorio Nistri and Erica Scherl join the rest of the composing crew; this is mainly a string composition after all. The apparent goal is to represent a ship voyage, a rather adventurous one I might add. And what an epic voyage this is! There are many violin experimentations, Milano gives his polyphonic show for almost three minutes before he disappears, leaving open space for the creation of incredible instrument noises. Piano, strings, bass, electronics, seagulls, everything works together in order to transcend the boundaries of music. As the ship heads slowly in a straight course, so music evolves in a linear way, with the progressive building of an enigmatic, haunted feeling. In the end, everything fades slowly, like no one is left alive in a ghost-ship that still moves towards the shadows of the most distant horizon. Paladino's lyrics are simple but magnificent, it seems that heavy symbolisms lurk beneath words - something dark and subconscious.

Track 4: '' Oi Ma-Nel Mare che hai Dentro'' (Oh Mother!-Inside the sea you hold), 2'00'', lyrics by Milano. Now, if you think that 2 minutes isn't enough time for a masterpiece to be composed, you are clearly mistaken. This distorted-jazz pandemonium is beyond belief! Camillo Pace is almost my new hero after his composing and upright bass contribution to this track but let him not take all the credits: amazing vocal contribution by Dalila Kayros, Stefano Luigi Mangia and Luca Milano surround Claudio's jaw-dropping, breathless performance (do you see a strong resemblance with Mike Patton's experimental works?), ''normal'' drums and percussion by Andrea Quattrini (making it sound even more intense and vivid), and an orgy of tenor and soprano sax, leading things to a Lynch's ''Lost Highway'' kind of finale. The song also features the only chorus of the album and it has been stuck in my head for a week now...! Great, surreal lyrics, hard to be decoded but with glorious moments: '' I have good teeth but they are not clever enough to bite life''. Wow.

Track 5: '' I Pesci dei tuoi Fiumi'' (The Fish of your Rivers), 4'02'', lyrics from the Holy Bible, adjusted by Paladino. This is a very free and quite dark composition by Milano and Nistri. Claudio reaches his expressive peak with really weird and experimental sounds, in a track that at first unfolds like an industrial nightmare but it eventually transforms somehow into a religious, hymn-like tune (or actually its exact opposite). Of course the biblical theme pushes things into that direction but the saxophones, playing simple notes in Phrygian mode in the middle of the track, provide equivalent awe! Nistri' s noises lead the arrangements and Quattrini' s percussion once again offers a different, organic pulse. Hidden religion references lie throughout the album and this track establishes a solid connection between Nichelodeon/InSonar and the divine world. A song of pure mysticism, in sound and spirit.

Track 6: ''Ma(r)le'' (Sea/Evil), 19'18'', lyrics by Paladino. Actually, this is a 3 part composition. Part 1 is called ''Tsunami'' and it lasts 3 minutes. Stefano Ferrian's sax kicks off this epic trilogy, before percussion and vocals take over, though it is Marco Tuppo's electronics that ultimately steal the show. The 9 minutes long Part 2 ('' Into the waves'') is basically an improvisational dialogue between Claudio's vocal acrobatics and Fabio Zurlo's magnificent accordion. Violin and distorted upright bass also contribute to the creation of a very colorful track, with intensive shades of cinematic nature. Belgian artist Erna Franssens (aka KasjaNoova) provides pre-vocalic/shamanic sounds and makes an instant impression! Finally, part 3 (''Mud'') is truly a twisted guitar concerto, expressed through Seravalle & Eugenio Sanna's experimentations. Don't expect riffs but noises and drones coming out of an instrument we all believe we know well. Strange and dark guitar soundscapes are constructed while Scherl's violin increases the feeling of suffocation. Probably the album's most experimental track. The end of the voyage!

Milano states that this record is the voyage of a ship on top of a maelstrom. Personally, it felt more like an odyssey within waters. One begins from a cool mountain spring, becomes river and waterfall, meets the vastness of the ocean, dissolving into the depths or swimming close to the sunny surface, turning into waves and finally mud. Concentrate on all of the above as emotions, not images. One last remark: to surrender musically to dark paths would be the easy way, as many avant garde artists usually do. Nichelodeon/InSonar's approach remains close to the light though; I believe that there is optimism behind this quest, a yearning for happiness in life. I think that this is very important - and admirable.

There is an amazing list of references in the booklet, ranging from artists that one could expect (Swans, Henry Cow, Art Zoyd, John Zorn etc.) to big surprises like Radiohead, Kate Bush, Tool, Burial, David Sylvian. My vote goes to Ulver and Devil Doll, bearing distant artistic resemblances with Claudio's visions. Allow me to add some references of my own, not to clear the mist around this album but to further thicken it! Barry Truax - Riverrun. Coil - Musick to play in the dark (one of the best headphones-album ever). Eyes Wide Shut OST. Puscifer. Definitely Grails. Diamanda Galas. Univers Zero. Erik Truffaz.

''Quickworks & Deadworks'' is a 25 minutes short film by Paladino. It is slow, kind of weird, filled with symbolism and surrealism. It features music from ''UKIYOE'' ? perfectly fitting ? and it, somehow, carries the philosophical messages of the album into the real world, into people's relations and desires. In my opinion, the film strengthens the music and vice versa, like watching two good friends talking about the same things in completely different ways. Illustrations and paintings on the digipack by Claudio himself. Jellyfish fly in the sky. Is this prog or what?

This is Nichelodeon/InSonar's ''UKIYOE''. A piece of art that is truly important, independent and free. An album that demands many things from the listener and gives many in return. Of course, it is not made for all, but the ones that should pay attention must have taken the message so far. According to my rating system, this is a 91/100 album and certainly one of 2014's highlights. Congratulations to Claudio and co. Eagerly waiting to see what's next!

5 very liquid stars!

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 UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar) by NICHELODEON album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.33 | 14 ratings

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UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar)
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Kazza3

4 stars I was asked to review 'UKIYOE' by Claudio Milano a while ago, and I'm both grateful to have had the opportunity and sorry not to have listened to this album or band sooner, because this is a very accomplished and detailed album.

This is my first foray into the music of Nicholodeon, though I had heard of the band and of Claudio's vocal prowess before- and from the beginning of the very first track, the uninitiated will find that his voice is the focal point. He describes himself as, among other things, a "researcher in the fields of human voice possibilities", and the vocals on the album indeed aren't just putting a voice to the music, but are rather an open-minded exploration of seven octaves of range, of different timbres, articulations, and expression. There is both great beauty and pure singing talent to be found here, but that's not all; there are wails and shouts, abrasive sprechstimme and guttural drones, hurried gestures and sharp breaths, and stranger things I'm not sure I have words to describe. These 'explorations' may be a bit more than some listeners can stomach- but those listeners would miss out on Claudio's straight singing voice, which is fantastically clear and pure of tone, especially in the falsetto, is evidently classically-trained (it would be hard to maintain and manage such a range without training!) and is a joy.

With all this talk of vocal exploration and experimentation, a reader might be worried that this is a single-focus album, leaving the compositions & instrumental backing by the wayside, but luckily that isn't the case here. After a few more listens, and possibly after getting used to a few of the stranger vocal moments, the music itself comes to the fore as being wholly brilliant in itself, and the vocals are revealed to be not self-indulgent, but rather a part of the whole. The music here feels coherent, yet is very diverse and changes tack on a dime (occasionally a little too much so). There is a lot of strongly melodic and beautiful (albeit dark) material here for a an avant album, especially on 'Veleno'- there are a number of melodies throughout the album that feel like lullabies, madrigals, folk or gondolier songs, and so on. On the other end is the avant-garde material, exemplified by the final track, the lengthy freeform maneuverings of 'Ma(r)le'- which possibly could have been scaled back a bit, as it does stretch on at times. The instrumentation has a largely chamber music feel, with a strong emphasis on strings and winds. There is also considerable use of electronic effects, beats and industrial noise (such as on 'Fi(j)uru d'Acqua', which also happens to feature an extremely cool ostinato section with bass clarinet), frequently tormented solo violin lines that are heavy on scratchy sul pontincello and other non-traditional techniques, clever saxophone counterpoint, plenty of accordion and keyboard, and even the sound of seagulls on 'Maranaio' (tying into a overarching nautical theme).

But it is, in the end, the listener's reaction to the unusual aspects of the vocal experimentation that will make or break this album for them. This is an extremely enjoyable album, and the diversity and great attention to detail in composition and arrangement makes it all the more impressive.

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 UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar) by NICHELODEON album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.33 | 14 ratings

BUY
UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar)
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by admireArt
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars A tapestry of chaos!

...(or an "Opera for the 21st. century schizoid human being".)

NICHELODEON UKIYOE: "Mondi Fluttuanti" (with Insonar)-2014, featuring mainly Claudio Milano & Paolo Siconolfi, accompanied by a bunch full of willing, top of their trades musicians, ready to play into this structured, entirely uncompromising, highly chaotic musical work.

A strong emphasis is made in its exploration of the human voice in all its possible extensions as music or noise. Meaning that if you are aquainted with the Avant Garde or RiO ways of gutural expressions, well, you are half way in. Comes to mind in this regard: Zamla´s mockery, as Zappa´s "manic" laughters or Magma´s choir progressions.

But it does not stop there, the real deal, talking about the human voice solely, is the overwhelming sensation of irreverent human madness, shamelessly displayed, yet like it or not, human to the bone!

And of course the before mentioned "Interactive Orchestra" is not just there to watch their impetuous front man explode into delirium just for kicks! Massive, fearless, structured yet willing to bend any rule, if by chance they encounter a good musical idea, no matter how small. They will stop and smell the flowers that come along the way. As a result, this work is full of astounding, highly visual, frantic yet comprehensible but never giving a damn to satisfy no one, completely instrumental musical passages, which balance equally, this 45 minutes long, apparently unconnected into 6 songs, "one man´s opera".

Therefore, as it usually happens with groundbreaking works in these AV/RiO sub-genres, your full participation is required. No cheap frills, no catchy riffs, no bargains, nor "preachers" to enlighten your way. In fact, just exactly the opposite!

****4.5 PA stars.

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Thanks to avestin for the artist addition. and to snobb for the last updates

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