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OLOFERNE

Prog Folk • Italy


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Oloferne biography
OLOFERNE are an Italian band from Chiaravalle, near Ancona. The line up features Alessandro Piccioni (vocals, bass, flute), Giacomo Medici (vocals, guitar, percussion), Giuseppe Cardamone (violin), Gianluca Agostinelli (guitars), Stefano Procaccini (guitars, bass) and Marco Medici (drums, percussion). They started their musical project in 1999 trying to blend different influences ranging from medieval atmospheres to progressive and folk rock. In 2001 they recorded their eponymous debut album that was released and distributed by Ethnoworld/Venus in 2003. During the years they have been alternating concerts and activities for theatre works maturing a very good experience on stage. In December 2004 they released a second album that obtained a very positive feed-back by critics and media, ?Le parole del vento?, self-produced and featuring collaborations with Gastone Pietrucci (La Macina) and Sandro Severini (Gang). In 2005 they had the chance to perform some live shows in Argentina and appeared as guests on some Argentinean radio broadcasts. After an intense activity on stage, in 2008 they released a third self-produced album ?Segno d?acqua? featuring the Jazz-musician Leonardo Sbaffi as special guest. You can listen to all their albums on their last.fm page.



Andrea Parentin, December 2009



Official Website: http://www.oloferne.com/

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/oloferne

Last.fm: http://www.lastfm.it/music/Oloferne

Oloferne official website

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OLOFERNE discography


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

4.00 | 1 ratings
Oloferne
2003
3.00 | 1 ratings
Le parole del vento
2005
3.50 | 2 ratings
Segno d'acqua
2008
3.71 | 11 ratings
L'inferno dei musici
2014

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

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

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

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

OLOFERNE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 L'inferno dei musici by OLOFERNE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.71 | 11 ratings

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L'inferno dei musici
Oloferne Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars It's probably just that association with the molten center of the earth or wherever hell is supposed to be, but this latest release by RPI folkies OLOFERNE evokes a string and strum heavy version of METAMORFOSI's inferno. Even the vocals are far bolder and more menacing than I remember them from just a few years ago, and, well the monumental version of a PFM classic doesn't leave any doubt as to where the group intends to be placed in the virtual storage racks of the future. The short running time is also reminiscent of those classic bands of the golden age of Italian LPs. Still, paradoxically perhaps, this is probably their folkiest effort since the wondrous debut of so long ago, and certainly their strongest since then. With the exception of a fairly standard fiddle dominated opener, which is at least attention grabbing, and a closer that repeatedly fails to leave an impression, this is just as much Italy's answer to OYSTERBAND as it is an homage to earlier countrymen, layering waves upon waves of high octane folk rock that rarely strays from its labyrinthine roots . Ultimately, these influences and the manner in which they are absorbed and re-gifted might be the very catalysts that have trapped these talented artists in the musical hell that they describe so eloquently, while sending their listeners in quite the opposite direction.

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 L'inferno dei musici by OLOFERNE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.71 | 11 ratings

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L'inferno dei musici
Oloferne Prog Folk

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars L'inferno dei musici (The hell of musicians) is the fourth studio album by Oloferne, an Italian band from Chiaravalle, a little town in the province of Ancona. This interesting album was self-released in 2014 with a beautiful packaging featuring an art cover taken from the triptych called The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch, that in some way depicts its content. In fact, according to an interview with the band, this album represents an existential choice: on the album everything - music, lyrics and artwork - symbolizes a full immersion into the world of art, a true descent into hell, both for the musicians who play and for the listener. The album is a poetical manifesto of the musician's path, we portray an imaginary world through the eyes of a musician who, by describing it, disappears...".

Oloferne's roots date back to 1999 and the current line up features Alessandro Piccioni (vocals, flute, bass, guitar), Giacomo Medici (vocals, guitar, percussion), Gianluca Agostinelli (electric and acoustic guitars), Giuseppe Cardamone (violin) and Marco Medici (drums, percussion). There are no keyboardists involved in this project but the overall sound is rich and all the instruments perfectly interact weaving an original music fabric that draws from sources of inspiration ranging from Celtic folk to classical music, from progressive rock to Italian canzone d'autore. Well, an album that I think is really worth listening to...

The lively opener, "Invictus", is an excellent instrumental track that blends elements of Celtic folk, Vivaldi and Jethro Tull. It begins softly by violin and percussion, then the other instruments join adding new colours and musical flavours. The following "Danza macabra", depicts a strange dance under the moon where you can see skeletons and headless bodies frantically move while sinners and saints play the dice of a broken Fate... "Have you already heard the darkest note of such a kind of music? / The moon will be queen of the skull that is whistling... Stop your march, the danse macabre is playing for you...". Then comes the short "We Have No Heads", in the same mood, where the band interpret in a personal way Traditional Irish Folk Song by Denis Leary.

The title track, "L'inferno dei musici" (The hell of musicians), is the main course of the album. It's a beautiful suite divided into three parts that starts with a calm section based on an acoustic guitar arpeggio... "Here with us you'll drink the music of the spheres / On the back the sounds are shivers / It's the garden of earthly delight that is waiting for you / Here your damnation is your strength / Take my hands, forget your limits...". The seducing lyrics invite you to relax and follow the enchanted sounds coming from a hurdy gurdy... "Cut off your ears / And wait for the raven that will fetch them...". In the second section the rhythm rises while the dream becomes a nightmare and you risk to get lost in a ring-around-the-rosey, you're surrounded by satyrs and feeling like a smiling crucifix on the verge of madness, sentenced to the gallows with your harp as a scaffold. An excellent instrumental part concludes the suite.

"Soldati di memoria" (Soldiers of memory) is a folk ballad veined of electricity that conjures up the ghosts of unknown soldiers, victims of useless battles, slaves of blood and glory. They're the forgotten children of a dream that the music brings back to life... "Fragments of mud, fragments of history / Drops of dew wake the memory up... Now they're dreaming dancing stars / They are drops of air tightened in a single note...".

Then comes "Impressioni di settembre" (Impressions of September) a PFM's cover interpreted with good personality where violin and electric guitar play in turn the role of Moog. The last track, "Profezie del tempo" (Prophecies of Time), is a sweet acoustic ballad, a kind of timeless prayer celebrating music and harmony... "Don't ask me why / My God is the wind / Do not heed Time's prophecies... Caress the string of that fiddle / An ancient sound will show us the way / Time and space are trunks and chains / That a flute can lift up and transform into snow...". Well, a splendid finale for a very nice piece of art!

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 Segno d'acqua by OLOFERNE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.50 | 2 ratings

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Segno d'acqua
Oloferne Prog Folk

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Oloferne are an Italian band from Chiaravalle, near Ancona. The line up features Alessandro Piccioni (vocals, bass, flute), Giacomo Medici (vocals, guitar, percussion), Giuseppe Cardamone (violin), Gianluca Agostinelli (guitars), Stefano Procaccini (guitars, bass) and Marco Medici (drums, percussion). They started their musical project in 1999 trying to blend different influences ranging from medieval atmospheres to folk rock and progressive. In 2001 they recorded an eponymous debut album that was released and distributed by the independent label Ethnoworld/Venus in 2003. Since then they have been alternating concerts and activities for theatre maturing a very good experience on stage. In December 2004 they released a second album that obtained a very positive feed-back by critics and media, 'Le parole del vento', self-produced and featuring collaborations with Gastone Pietrucci (La Macina) and Sandro Severini (Gang). After an intense activity on stage, in 2008 they finally released a third self-produced album 'Segno d'acqua' which in my opinion is their best so far...

The opener 'L'argonauta' (The Argonaut) is a kind of musical travelogue on the wings of poetry, full of toasts and fragrances, where echoes of Latin America are mixed with a suggestive Mittel-European flavour, an electric tango featuring Gypsy violin counterpoints...

The following track 'Volver' (Back) is in the same vein and features a lively rhythm and swirling flute passages... 'I run away and I'm distracted by voices coming from the south... Don't be afraid, fight with the wind if it wears you out...'.

Next comes 'L'amore della salamandra' (The love of the salamander), a piece full of sensuality where the sexual act is celebrated like an old ancestral ritual by a beautiful witch... 'It's two minutes to 3 a.m. / I've already set everything for you and me / There's a fertile moon, salamanders are breeding / Hot stuff is running into the veins...'.

'La Piedra del Paran' (The stone from Paran') is another good track. It begins softly and the mood is dreamy, then violin and flute lead to a lively dance where dreams can sail across the ocean and you can breath the clouds while melancholy and whispers flow away... 'When my body will become of water / Death will die and I'll be the stone of Paran'...'.

'La preghiera del marinaio' (The sailor's prayer) and 'A largo di Punta Stilo' (Off Punta Stilo) are linked together and form a mini suite about a naval accident that happened on March 22, 1965 near Punta Stilo, on the sea off the coast of Calabria. During a military exercise two ships of the Italian navy, the frigate Castore and another ship named Etna (like the volcano), collided and four sailors died. This piece is dedicated to the victims: Aristide Duse, Vittorio Celli, Domenico Franzese and Franco Pardini... 'What's up? What are these waves? Where is Aristide? / It's the end, I'm drowning, it's night... Domenico is not with me / The water is coming in too fast / Virgin Mary, help me!...'. There's surprise but soon the rage against an incompetent captain takes over, there's anguish and fear... 'Captain, my captain, where are you? Maybe you're already sleeping below deck / I hope that the sea will cover you as well... In a moment I understood how salted is the sea / It's the mirror of those stars that you won't see upon me...'.

'Controcanto' (Counter-singing) is a powerful ballad challenging the fate and the wind with its strong melodic lines... It's about a song that soars against the wind in a warm night where the heart is open and makes you feel master of your destiny... 'You look for the moon... You look for the fortune / But the wheel is spinning fast and it will never stop...'.

'Byzantium' and 'Oggi i pensieri sono alberi' (Today the thoughts are trees) form another mini suite. It begins by slow and hypnotic bass lines while evocative sounds in the background draw a mysterious Oriental atmosphere... 'Today the thoughts are like trees / Thanks to the sun there's more shade for me / I seem free among my Britons dreams / But from trunks to obstacles the step is short...'. Then rhythm takes off and thoughts become flying leaves, voices of a choir that mixed together are going out of tune... 'Please do not sing, leave me alone...'. This track features the jazz-musician Leonardo Sbaffi as a special guest on saxophone who adds a touch of colour.

'Fa# come Fard' (F# as blush) is a lively ballad that was already present on Oloferne's debut album. Here we find a new arrangement with violin and flute in the forefront... 'If the hell does exist / It's just an impression or a moment...'.

Last track 'Il segno d'acqua' (Water sign) is another beautiful acoustic ballad. It's about the wish to set off on a journey across the sea running after the dreams. But this wish is counter-balanced by the fear of the waves... 'My tattooed anchors are sinking into the wine / Today I missed one more time the train leading to my destiny...'. After a pause appears, as a ghost track, a short recitative passage, a tribute to Hermann Melville's novel 'Moby Dick' that concludes this album dedicated to water.

Well, on the whole this is a very good work!

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 Segno d'acqua by OLOFERNE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.50 | 2 ratings

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Segno d'acqua
Oloferne Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars OLOFERNE's third disc is their most modern and polished, with an energy hitherto only hinted at. While the mystical and ritualistic mood of their debut is long past, the group seems to have achieved a better balance than on their sophomore effort. In fact there is a bit of a retrenchment towards their folk roots albeit at a higher octane level. The sound remains highly informed by the increasingly confident vocals of Alessandro Piccioni and Giacomo Medici , and the delightful celtic meets classical violin of Giuseppe Cardamone.

The album opens very strongly with adaptations of various world rhythms to rock in "L'argonauta" and especially "Volver", which, along with the absolutely cracking "Controcanto", continue to conjure the landmark "Verita Nascoste" of LE ORME, proposing a dialectic cross between the vivacious alternative rock and somewhat lethargic prog. While here the base is decidedly more folky, "Il Segno D'Acqua" is definitely the preferred access to to the house of OLOFERNE for RPI fans. The mini suite of "Byzantium" followed by "Oggi I Pensieri Sono Alberi" might be especially noteworthy although I find it somewhat pedestrian and lacking in mission and development. The gorgeous ballad "La Piedra del Paranà" wraps up its 5 minutes with a frantic spoken word passage, a risky shift that pays dividends, in part because the violin regifts the original tune throughout.

When the menu in strictly rock, OLOFERNE doesn't fare so well, and "A Largo Di Punta Stilo" with, sadly, the plodding and unevolved title cut mar a disc which is nonetheless an improvement on its predecessor, and hopefully a signal of continued evolution. A strong 3 stars.

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 Le parole del vento by OLOFERNE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Le parole del vento
Oloferne Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars For OLOFERNE's sophomore offering, they added electric guitars and drums, offered up a veritable smorgasbord of modern and ancient styles, and displayed a versatility hitherto untapped. While the breath and quality remain impressive, it fails to set much of a mood in the manner in which their debut excelled.

The highlights continue to be in their ability to make the modern sound ancient, the best example being "Cristallo di Boemia", which recalls the atmospheres of the prior release.. Similarly, "Vergine d'acetilene" blends the folk epochs and winds up being a fair Italian approximation of England's OYSTERBAND. Among the more pleasant surprises are the jangly alterna pop of "Colore ora c'è" and "L'albero di Alluminio". But alternative pop from Oloferne? That's almost as crazy as folk metal, which we get in "Capaneo", but Oloferne is not MAGO DE OZ by any stretch, so the attempts are ill advised.

The group's prog aspirations have never been clearer than on the finale "Habiba", which proposes a 10 minute middle eastern meets hard rock epic. Admirably ambitious, it's a must for prog folk fans. The group has never sounded more menacing, but the messages are a little too direct, while I preferred the equally dark but subtle inflections of their earlier work.

Initial disappointment aside, "Le parole del vento" carries a new respectable version of Oloferne, and is worthy of further exploration.

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 Oloferne by OLOFERNE album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Oloferne
Oloferne Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars I'm always intrigued when groups from outside the traditional Celtic diaspora play in that style. In the best cases, they inject their own local flavour into the mix, and beget a singular achievement, and this is the case with the debut of Italy's OLOFERNE.

The album opener stays close to tradition with the instrumental "Toss the Feathers", but from there an ancient, dark, almost ritualistic vibe infuses the work. The entirely acoustic mix of generally strummed and occasionally plucked acoustic guitar, soft mystery-laden vocals, alternately cheery and plaintive fiddles courtesy of Giuseppe Cardamone, occasional flutes, and very occasional percussion belies the masterful mood setting. This is a uniformly consistent work that is hard to compare to anything else, but openly challenges the best in our little genre.

In a complete effort such as this, it's not so much about the individual songs and tunes but about the overall effect of juxtaposition and flow, but I would be remiss not to point out a few of the blatant highlights. "Elfish Tee" establishes the medieval tone and the emphasis on violin, and is one of only several tracks sung in English. "Marcia della vita passata" begins as a soothing ballad before the tempo takes off on soaring strings. "Fa# come fard" places the spotlight on Alessandro Piccioni's flute as the fiddles are employed more for ambiance. "Nel Fiume Dentro Di Me" is an emotional tour de force with its unassuming buildup and simple yet profound chorus, and my personal favourite. "Medievale D451" beings the flutes back and lives up to its name. "Horus Eye" with its multipart harmonies and slightly ominous mood is as haunting as anything here, and that's saying alot. That so many of these dense and rich arrangements are in the 3 to 4 minute range only serves to add to their credentials.

A couple of small complaints: "Garrucha" reminds me a but too much of lame mid 70s Quebecois artists, even to the point where I think I hear the French word for "damn" ("maudit") in the chorus. The beautiful closer "Ludd di Wittelsbach" is a little too similar to a Neil Young tune, but inexplicably includes a lengtthy almost silent middle section before odd sound effects are mixed in. Perhaps it is a musical reference to the increased technology that OLOFERNE will come to employ on the successor, making this album one of a kind.

Last I looked, this whole little gem could be legally downloaded for free on last.fm, which I probably don't need to tell you is a VERY good deal! 4.5 stars

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Thanks to Andrea Parentin for the artist addition.

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