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CORDE OBLIQUE

Prog Folk • Italy


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Corde Oblique biography
Borne out of his earlier work LUPERCALIA, Riccardo Prencipe formed CORDE OBLIQUE in the mid-2000s as primarily his a solo effort. However, he employs numerous supporting artists in his studio creations, primarily orchestral instrumentation and strong female lead vocalists. Musicians from groups such as ANATHEMA, SYNAULIA, ION and DAEMONIA NYMPHE have appeared on CORDE OBLIQUE albums.

The project's music blends ambient, classical, rock, folk and operatic sounds into a unique experience that is rooted in Mediterranean folk.

>> Bio by Bob Moore (aka ClemofNazareth) <<

Corde Oblique official website

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Buy CORDE OBLIQUE Music


Hail of Bitter AlmondHail of Bitter Almond
Import
Prikosnovenie 2011
Audio CD$25.35
Per Le Strade RipetutePer Le Strade Ripetute
The Stones Of Naples
Audio CD$18.17

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CORDE OBLIQUE discography


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

4.00 | 3 ratings
Respiri
2005
4.04 | 4 ratings
Volontā D'Arte
2007
4.00 | 4 ratings
The Stones of Naples
2009
4.84 | 6 ratings
A Hail of Bitter Almonds
2011
3.05 | 2 ratings
Per Le Strade Ripetute
2013

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

CORDE OBLIQUE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

CORDE OBLIQUE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Per Le Strade Ripetute by CORDE OBLIQUE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Per Le Strade Ripetute
Corde Oblique Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars Riccardo Prencipe is to be commended for diligently performing and recording for the last 8 years as the leader of ethereal folk group CORDE OBLIQUE. Every other year he offers a meticulously and lovingly prepared disk of finely aged yet ageless beauty. "Per La Strade Ripetute" is no exception, yet it is not necessarily what I would have expected after 2011's "Hail of Bitter Almonds".

Indeed the group had been slowly, steadily and classily incorporating pop elements ever since their 2nd release, yet here we find a retrenchment of sorts into the more downbeat gothic sentiments and tempos of their debut. One of the aspects I really enjoy is the greater variety of violin phrasings, which is notable from the very first note of the first track, and carried to its fitting climax on the stunning instrumental "Uroboro". Conversely, Prencipe has entirely retreated from the lead microphone, which is disappointing given his hypnotic performances on tracks like "Together Alone" and "My Harbour", among others, on prior collections. Some other highlights are "My Pure Amethyst", where I continue to discern a ponderously strummed CRANBERRIES influence, and a grand guitar instrumental "Requiem for a Dream".

While the resplendent sound is intact, "Per La Strade Ripetute" generally lacks the excitement of prior works by CORDE OBLIQUE. The project synergy, in which one's listening pleasure is enhanced from tune to tune and peaks from the cumulative effects, is not reaching me. While it's lovely background music this time around, I crave a bit more from even my mellow prog. 3.5 stars rounded down.

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 Respiri by CORDE OBLIQUE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.00 | 3 ratings

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Respiri
Corde Oblique Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars On the eve of CORDE OBLIQUE's 5th release, conforming to an implicit biannual schedule, it seems fitting to tie up loose ends, the most glaring among these being an overdue look at their debut album from 2005.

Other than a few interspersed spoken segments, this album does not express any traits dispensed with in subsequent releases. The classical guitar of Riccard Prencipe, the violin of Alfredo Notarloberti, and the cadre of self possessed female vocalists collaborate in a vaguely familiar yet singular Celtic inflected Mediterranean folk rock which passes for both modern and ancient. A subtle sense of foreboding is also imparted, and relatively few pop oriented inflections are extant at this time.

As in most of the catalog, the listener is drawn in immediately with "Intro (Captatio Benevolentiae)", a brief spoke portion rapidly supplanted with a blistering violin solo backed by chasmic percussion. The first part of "My Promise" maintains that energy with wordless vocal chants while the second is perhaps a more typically sweet violin and guitar oriented tune. "Eventi" is the only track sung by male lead, and is one of my favourites with its multitracked half spoken vocals, which bust out later a la FRANCO BATTIATIO. "Waves" features English vocals both sung and spoken and also varies the tempos as consistent throughout the disk. "Ascesi" and "Fantasia Sui Tasti Bianchi" offer welcome variety, the former with its use of clarinet and the latter as largely a solo piano piece by Francesco Villani, and a consummate one at that. "Orme" is notable for sounding like CLANNAD and ARES, but is more effective than either because it represents a facet rather than an an immutable identity. "Dentro's" operatic vocals would be adapted on "Cuma" on the subsequent offering, but they are no less effective here.

The last 3 tracks suffer somewhat from a sense of spent energy, and the 10+ minute length of the closer is misleading as it includes several moments of apparent silence followed by a reprise of "orme". Still, if "Volonta D'Arte" was a mature sophomore effort, "Respiri" demonstrates that Mr Prencipe was more than ready to go solo by 2005 and represents a deep first breath from CORDE OBLIQUE.

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 Volontā D'Arte by CORDE OBLIQUE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.04 | 4 ratings

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Volontā D'Arte
Corde Oblique Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars The unique voice in rock that is CORDE OBLIQUE is already well primed by the time of this mature second effort. Riccardo Prencipe, skilled composer and guitarist, surrounds himself with fully engaged hired singers and musicians for this entrancing blend of classical, medieval/mediterranean folk, and rock. It's worth having a look at the numerous you tube clips of this "group" to gain insight into the synergy which upon which he insists and depends.

Of the thirteen tracks herein only 2 or 3 fail to be both interesting and entertaining. For the rest, the surprisingly hook-laden and vibrant opener "Cantastoria" counts as one of the most resounding. "Amphitheatrum Puteolanum" is equally arresting and is somewhat suggestive of the German pagan group "Faun", but much more daring with its blend of plaintive chant, guitar, and a hurdy gurdy or bagpipe like instrument. "Casa Hirta" is a gentle ballad that picks up the pace and is one of the many tunes with gorgeous violin by Alfredo Notarloberti from ASHRAM, a group from whom various members contribute to "Volonta D'Arte". "Kuntswollen" is similarly of the highest melodic caliber . Then there is the urgency of "Cuma", part opera and part folk from its unassuming yet portentous guitar opening to its near histrionic end. Claudia Florio as soprano should appeal to fans of Annie Haslam's wide range at her peak. The weakest vocal track is probably the less varied "Olhos cincentos" which is just as beautiful sounding and could be easily accepted if it were not overly long.

The two tracks sung in English, by different male vocalist are the narrative styled "Atheist Woman" that is lulling and subduing until another gear is added towards the end; and the wholly transcendent "My Harbour" which seems to bridge nostalgic pop and a bit of REM- esque songwriting with the group's trademark delicacy.

Of the instrumentals "Before Utrecht"'s guitar figures and the skillfully compiled mini piano suite "La Pioggia Sui Tasti" are especially worthy of attention. But ANATHEMA's "Kaiowas" and the oddly MABSANT sounding closer "Piazza Armerina" with its stilted clarinet phrasings, both lack the excitement of most of the rest of the album.

The album title translates to "The Will of Art" and "Volunta D'Arte" fulfills the promise of this intriguing moniker. 4.5 stars rounded down.

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 A Hail of Bitter Almonds by CORDE OBLIQUE album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.84 | 6 ratings

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A Hail of Bitter Almonds
Corde Oblique Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

5 stars Riccardo Prencipe and his hand-picked and plucked entourage succeed even better this time around in producing the truly modern equivalent of middle ages troubadour music Italian style. The improvement is principally in the wholeness of this entity, as songs and courtly dances merge into one like predestined partners.

Prencipe's dedication to classical and acoustic guitar ensures the decidedly unplugged aspect of "Almonds", but the deliberately ancient sounding melodies soar atop stellar production that miraculously preserves their fragility. The title cut and opener initially appears as little more than throwaway until the 3rd or 4th listen when the urgency of Floriana Cangiano's voice and and the piano rolls of Luigi Rubino portend the coming delights. "Together Alone" is one of only 2 tracks sung in the masculine, by Sergio Panarella, although he has plenty of help. Here is the song which won't leave my head for hours if not days, an utter delight of transcendent romance with an unfailing chorus and Spanish styled guitar fills. From here the remaining beauties come as no surprise, although many listens are required for full osmosis. "Paestum" is in two parts, the first somewhat poppy, the second a tongue dropping wordless delight. "La madre che non c'e" follows a similar pattern, but with an instrumental first half and more sublime vocals and violin on the home stretch. "Slide" is one of only a couple of instrumentals and is also among the tunes that can't help recalling ERIS PLUVIA.

You might ask if there is any edge here at all. Well, not much in the conventional sense, but the reworking of RADIOHEAD's "Jigsaw Falling into Place" is quite a revelation, and probably the closest to raucous. "Crypta Neapolitana" is quite spooky as implies its title, and where CORDE OBLIQUE earns some of its dark wave credentials. "Goia di vivere" is more subdued than might be expected given its translation as "joy of living". Conversely, even the saddest themes here are somehow uplifting. One of my favourites is "The Man of Wood", the other tune sung by Panarello, coincidentally both being among the few on the disk sung in English. Here is approach is phonetically based, but the emphatic afterthoughts in his style work wonders in creating a solemn masterpiece. Halfway through is a shift to a somewhat more indie rock anthem, naturally understated. "Piccolo rose" is a sweet ballad that accomplishes much in barely two and half minutes in terms of solidifying the atmospheres aimed for and achieved.

If the last couple of tracks slow down the momentum a tad, I do have to point out that the vocal style in "Pietra Bianca" owes a debt of gratitude to the CRANBERRIES Dolores O'Riordan. At the same time, while less blatant, the group clearly benefits from past excercises by both versions of RENAISSANCE, CLANNAD, and KATE BUSH, while references to OLOFERNE are not out of place.

My initial intent was to award another easy 4 stars, but there is nothing here that, taken in the context of its surroundings, detracts in the least from a perfect work, even if the first half dozen listens might suggest otherwise. From that point on, these bitter almonds leave a sweet aftertaste to the palate starved for grace.

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 The Stones of Naples by CORDE OBLIQUE album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.00 | 4 ratings

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The Stones of Naples
Corde Oblique Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars Plenty of progressive folk has emerged from Italy over the years, whether under the rubric of RPI or not.. Recently a new wave seems to be breaking, with groups drawing more on their own roots in the Renaissance period and tempering it with allusions to the much more recent psych period. For me the tip of the iceberg was OLOFERNE, whom I have examined earlier. CORDE OBLIQUE, at least here on their third release, remain in a consistently romantic folky mood. If you have heard MIA, this is like a downbeat more melodic version. A better reference might be the obscure MAGMA from Argentina, but in a medieval mood. But I'm sure a few Italian groups unbeknownst to me might have been required listening. Well, gotta start somewhere.

And wow what a start. Riccardo Prencipe has assembled a compatible group of skilled musicians and ethereal female vocalists for this "project", and, considering he is the only glue holding it all together, he really knows how to make it stick. This is luscious ancient sounding music with plenty of plucked acoustic instruments and violin. No electric guitar and it is not missed. The vocals are mostly in Italian (presumably), but the occasional English ones and wordless workouts are no less impressive. Several tracks are longer, and these are among the highlights, which to me marks a litmus test of sorts as to the prog credentials of a band, especially since they betray nary a hint of ambitions in that realm.

"Flower Bud" and "Barrio Gotico" top the list for their effortless development, shifts of mood, sultry vocal sections and instrumental virtuosity, but "Nostalgia avanguardia", if not living up to expectations that RIO fans might set, and "La citta" are also triumphs of nostalgic provocation even among those who weren't alive 500 years ago, or at least don't remember it. This is stirring stuff. A few more sedate mainstream tracks (like "Flying"), and a general lack of hard hitting material are among the factors staving off perfection this time around.

All points of comparison would be mere oblique references and unfitting substitutes for the real thing, so I recommend you find this posthaste, godspeed, and affrettatevi!!

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Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the artist addition.

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