Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

UNREAL CITY

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Unreal City picture
Unreal City biography
Founded in Parma, Italy in 2008

The idea for UNREAL CITY was hatched by keyboardist/vocalist Emanuele TARASCONI and guitarist Francesca ZANETTA, the line-up later completed with the arrival of Francesco OREFICE (bass) in 2010 and Federico BEDOSTRI (drums) a further two years after that. A self-released EP by the Parma-based outfit in 2012 brought them to the attention of Italian prog lord Fabio ZUFFANTI who was subsequently involved in the production of the band's recent debut album ''La Crudeltà Di Aprile'' (2013) for Mirror Records.

The young members of UNREAL CITY project something of a retro-modern image and their music also enjoys the best of both old and new. The tracks on ''La Crudeltà Di Aprile'' display a similar present day consciousness but they do so with reference to the traditional RPI creed. That epic tradition manifests itself through typical Italian lyricism and the unrestrained expansion of lavish arrangements adorned with Mellotron, Moog, church organ, violin and lute. The texts scrutinize dark themes of psychological conflict (the trauma of Oedipal separation, corruption, the mediation between the conscious and unconscious realms) and draw inspiration from encounters with shadow forces (Faust, primitive deities, witches' Sabbaths) although these related stories ultimately present a narrative of personal growth. The lyrical themes also seem to release the collective imagination of the band and the end result is a phantasmagoric Italian Symphonic Prog with a dark gothic bias.

Looking at UNREAL CITY in the context of new Italian groups it might not be too much of a stretch to describe them as the archetypal modern RPI band, and ''La Crudeltà Di Aprile'' is an absolute must-have for fans of the genre. Currently available in CD format and to download/stream via their bandcamp.

- seventhsojourn

UNREAL CITY forum topics / tours, shows & news


UNREAL CITY forum topics Create a topic now
UNREAL CITY tours, shows & news Post an entries now

UNREAL CITY Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Show all UNREAL CITY videos (2) | Search and add more videos to UNREAL CITY

Buy UNREAL CITY Music



More places to buy UNREAL CITY music online

UNREAL CITY discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

4.15 | 392 ratings
La Crudeltà di Aprile
2013
4.06 | 387 ratings
Il Paese del Tramonto
2015
3.82 | 136 ratings
Frammenti Notturni
2017

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

UNREAL CITY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

UNREAL CITY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Frammenti Notturni by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.82 | 136 ratings

BUY
Frammenti Notturni
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nº 482

The prog rock scene in Italy must be one of the most prolifics. Far from the mainstream visibility of the 70's, the prog rock in Italy is full with bands meeting the expectations of connoisseurs, who, if not very numerous, have efficient communication channels especialized record labels and circuit shows. One of these exponents is Unreal City of Parma. Created in 2008 by Emanuele Tarasconi and Francesca Zanetta, the band captured the attention of Fabio Zuffanti, a very influential character in the Italian prog scene, which became involved in the production of the debut album of the band.

Managing to the release of the first EP in 2012, Unreal City took part in several musical contests. In 2013 the band released their debut studio album, recorded with the artistic direction of Fabio Zuffanti, "La Crudeltà Di Aprile". After its release, "La Crudeltà Di Aprile" went at the top of many Italian prog rock albums charts. In 2015, Unreal City released their second studio album "Il Paese Del Tramonto". In the same year the band joined in a European tour, which took Unreal City by several European countries. In 2017, Unreal City released their third studio album "Frammenti Notturni".

So, one of the the most important names in the new Italian prog rock scene is back with this new work "Frammenti Notturni". In addition to the vocalist/keyboardist Tarasconi and guitarist Zanetta, bass player Dario Pessina remained in the original quartet but the drums and percussion were taken over by Marco Garbin who substituted Frederico Bedostri.

Thus, the line up on "Frammenti Notturni" is Francesca Zanetta (electric and acoustic guitars and Mellotron), Emanuele Tarasconi (lead and backing vocals, piano, synthesizer, Mellotron, clavinet, theremin and acoustic guitar), Dario Pessina (backing vocals, bass and bass pedals) and Marco Garbin (drums and percussion). The album had also the participation of Camilla Pozzi (backing vocals) and Matteo Bertani (violin), both as guest artists. Unreal City and "Frammenti Notturni" are suitable for the fans of the dramatic Italian symphonic progressive rock scene from the 70's. The five long tracks are, as is usual, characterized by the dark atmospheres that we already encountered in the band's first two previous albums. Even the production sounds a bit like the time, although it maintains the high standard available today. However, the sound and the production are far more modern than the past ones, but the echoes of the 70's progressive rock music are still very present, as they have always been a trademark for Unreal City.

Not a conceptual album in the true sense of the word, the lyrics on "Frammenti Notturni" have some common themes, such as the urban setting and the obstacles that interfere with communication among humans. Although Tarasconi be always the most cited and the band is even more focused on the most diverse types of analog keyboards, Zanetta's guitar carves beautiful solos all over several tracks and sews by outside and beneath the layers of keyboard, bass and percussion created by this great quartet, always interested in melodies, in the style and taste of the classic 70's Italian progressive bands, like Premiata Forneria Marconi, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, Locanda Delle Fate and many others.

"La Grande Festa In Maschera" is a suite with five parts: "Désir", "Exitacion", "Plateau", "Orgasme" and "Résolution". It has some of the most virtuous and complex moments on the album combining the classical music and prog tradition. It has rhythm changes, violins, alternating singing by Tarasconi and the guest Camilla, great keyboards, a frantic bass rhythm and a mighty Mellotron. All the elements that laid the foundations for their success are present here, from the technique to a certain degree of cheekiness. The ten minutes of "Le Luci Delle Case (Spente)" refer to the phenomenal debut album of Museo Rosenbach. This piece has a slow opening with violin, organ and electric guitar and it includes some nice bass lines and piano work. It has a passionate vocal work and a great instrumental in the ending of the piece. The five minutes of "Barricate" song, chosen as a single, is divided between the pop songwriting and a typically prog virtuoso ending. "Il Nido Delle Succubi" is a daring set of different rhythms and styles that chase and overlap, a sort of short suite with nine minutes. This is another godsend for progressive fans. Classical piano and melancholy are found in "Arrivi All'Aurora". This is the piece with the most beautiful melodies on the album, closing it in a very beautiful way.

Conclusion: This is the first album that seems to convey some of the energy that is prevalent in their live shows. Each song is filled with intrigue and drama. The subject matter of this album is different as well. The lyrics are more related to common people problems such as inability to communicate while the other two albums were more about philosophical issues. Unreal City continues to deliver complex, sometimes dark and definitely symphonic classic prog impressive and rich arrangements. The center still is the multiple keyboard attacks of Tarasconi, the nice guitar leads of Francesca and the beautiful violin themes of guest Bertani. Unreal City with "Frammenti Notturni" keeps following in the best 70's Italian prog tradition with the lengthy tracks and an amazing musicianship that is very appreciated by many prog fans.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Il Paese del Tramonto by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.06 | 387 ratings

BUY
Il Paese del Tramonto
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 479

In 2008, the Italian progressive rock band Unreal City was founded by Emanuele Tarasconi and Francesca Zanetta in Parma. In these days, Unreal City was composed by Emanuele Tarasconi, Matteo Bertani, Dario Pessina and Andrea Gardani. For personal reasons, the founder Francesca Zanetta left Unreal City as was announced by the band in 2018.

Managing to the release of the first EP in 2012, Unreal City took part in several music contests. In 2013 the band released their debut studio album, recorded with the artistic direction of Fabio Zuffanti, titled "La Crudeltà Di Aprile". After its release, "La Crudeltà Di Aprile" went at the top of many Italian progressive rock albums charts, and many positive reviews were published. During the promotional tour of the album, Unreal City played on some important Italian and international stages. In 2015 the band released their second studio album "Il Paese Del Tramonto". In the same year the band joined in a European tour. In 2017, Unreal City released their third studio album, "Frammenti Notturni".

The line up on "Il Paese Del Tramonto" is Francesca Zanetta (electric and acoustic guitars and Mellotron), Emanuele Tarasconi (lead and backing vocals, piano, Hammond, synth, Mellotron, harpsichord, Theremin and clavinet), Dario Pessina (backing vocals and spoken voice, bass and bass pedals) and Federico Bedostri (drums and percussion). The album had also the participation of Fabio Biale (violin) and Rossano Villa (trombone and accordion).

With their debut album, Unreal City made that immediately the world speak of them in very positive terms. "La Crudeltà Di Aprile" indicates the proposal of revival the Italian symphonic prog of the 70's. The sequel released in 2015, which begins exactly where its predecessor had stopped, is a clear evidence of that. The ability of having chosen the leitmotif of the concept, which leads to various dream experiences in a kind of delusion with unreal contours typical of the hour of the twilight, is a proof of that. The themes will also be gloomy, fragmentary and dramatic, but the notes flow full of enthusiasm, giving the whole image of an "adventurous journey", thanks also to the analog recordings. Even the lyrics are based in the Italian 70's style. They are well blended and even Tarasconi not having a powerful voice, his timbre appears appropriate. The classical and brainy references are numerous, all over the album both, lyrically and musically.

"Overture: Obscurus Fio" is an instrumental with great changes. Some voices or noises at the beginning, later piano in a classical way and then the other instruments enter and begin to create a structure. The closing word is for keyboards. "Oniromanzia" starts with keyboards only. Unreal City has the real ability to compose beautiful melodies. Tarasconi has a nice voice where you can notice the 70's resemblance. They are young musicians tremendously talented. The track is diverse but the music is dominated by keyboards. "Caligari" opens slow and mysterious. The track brings the modern sound of RPI, though of course, the retro elements prevail here. All musicians are equally important. The quality they created is really impressive. Their talent is evident in both, composition and performance. You can find some jazzy parts here too. "La Meccanica Dell'Ombra" shows the band's changing direction. It comes to my mind the folk eastern influences, so dear to their compatriots Area. The composition is well crafted, nice tense atmospheres, fast passages contrasting with faster moments. It's impossible not to be surprised by changes in time and mood. "Il Nome Di Lei", the musicianship floats, and no matter how many retro prog elements, the sound is modern. The keyboards give way for a bit, letting the guitar take the lead on two beautiful, slow and melancholic solos. Here, the keyboards and the piano lay down a soft melodic foundation. "Lo Schermo Di Pietra (Kenosis)" brings even more energy and power than the previous tracks. The rock is evident here, perfectly suited by keyboards, strings and drums. The vocal melodies are beautiful and are sung with great passion. "Ex Tenebrae Lux" is divided into several parts. To prove their composition skills, the band ends the album with this 20 minute epic. It's a diverse piece of epic proportions. This epic combines space rock with a gothic sound, with even funk in some brief passages, with jazzy tunes and of course, with splendid progressive rock predominance. This is a magnificent salad of progressive sounds that close the album amazingly.

Conclusion: With "La Crudeltà Di Aprile" and "Il Paese Del Tramonto", Unreal City proves to be a band, to take note, in the modern prog rock scene. Their music is heavily instrumental and gloriously bombastic. The music of Unreal City is keyboard dominated. And despite their music be influenced by the music of the great Italian prog bands of the 70's, the band sounds new and fresh, in spite of their retro prog sound. You won't find weak points on this great album, really. And of course there is an epic lengthy track divided into several parts at the end. With these two albums, Unreal City thus continues the Italian progressive rock tradition, fully aware of the classic role models, with a successful mixture of orchestral symphony, devoted vocals and hard rock sprinkles. These are two albums not to be missed, by any way.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 La Crudeltà di Aprile by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.15 | 392 ratings

BUY
La Crudeltà di Aprile
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 475

Unreal City was born in Parma in 2008. The two founders, Emanuele Tarasconi and Francesca Zanetta, met to create a complex and challenging project with the classic sound of the prog of the 70's in a modern mood, trying not to simulate but to magnify the vintage and typical side of that period. The band, which their name comes from founders' common passion for "The Waste Land" of T.S. Eliot, began to play live. In 2012 the band published their first EP, "Unreal City", with three songs with lyrics in English. In 2013 Unreal City released their first studio album, "La Crudeltà Di Aprile".

The first EP of Unreal City called the attention of Fabio Zuffanti. Due to that, Fabio decided to produce "La Crudeltà Di Aprile". As many of we know, Zuffanti is a name very well known in the Italian prog scene. He created many several Italian progressive rock projects like Finisterre, Hostsonaten, IaZona, La Maschera Di Cera, Quadrophonic, Rohmer, Aries, Buc-Ur and R.u.g.h.e, besides his musical career as a solo artist and other participations in some other projects.

So, "La Crudeltà Di Aprile" is the debut studio album of Unreal City and was released in 2013. It became one of the best prog rock albums of 2013. Unreal City performed on many great stages. In 2015 Unreal City's second album "Il Paese Del Tramonto" has been released and the band spent 2015 and 2016 touring across Europe and Canada to promote their album. In 2017, Unreal City released their third and last studio album, till now, with the title "Frammenti Notturni".

The line up on the album is Francesca Zanetta (electric and acoustic guitars and Renaissance lute), Emanuele Tarasconi (lead and backing vocals, piano, Hammond, Moog, Mellotron, Birotron, Chamberlain, Fender Rhodes, clavinet, harpsichord, church organ and Theremin), Francesco Orefice (lead and backing vocals, fretted and fretless bass) and Federico Bedostri (narration, drums, timpani and percussion). Fabio Biale (violin) appears as a guest artist.

Unreal City is above an average band, not only for the articulated plots created, but also for the attention paid to the lyrics of intense depth. A proposal that has its roots in the past but at the same time knows how to make current in numerous passages. The four members have their musical heroes of reference but the lesson has been reworked with a strong personality. The result is a direct consequence of the attention paid to the lyrics, with the predominance of keyboards of all kinds that know how to create the atmosphere more suited to what is described by the singing, really.

"La Crudeltà Di Aprile" highlights the undoubted talent of Unreal City, a band that promises a lot for the future. The album faithfully follows the atmospheres, albeit filtered with modern sensitivity, of some mythical Italian prog bands such as La Locanda Delle Fate, Quella Vecchia Locanda and Il Balletto Di Bronze. The Unreal City shows that they have an excellent feeling with the genre by creating an impressive and emphatic symphonic prog with great instrumentation.

"Dell'Innocenza Perduta" has a rhythm tight, fanned by Hammond and Moog and only when Tarasconi's subtle singing takes over, does the music calm down, emphasizing the piano. There is also room for a short guitar solo and a beautiful violin insert. "Atlantis (Conferendis Pecuniis)" starts with vintage keyboards, including the harpsichord. Also excellent here is the ending with the bass to mark the drama of the fall of the great civilization of Atlantis. "Catabasi (Descensio Ad Inferos)" has a Gothic introduction with a declamatory voice, blood riffs, pressing and slightly disturbing rhythms and a fine lyricism in the last verses. "Dove La Luce È Più Intensa" benefits from a long instrumental digression that allows us to appreciate also the important rhythmic work in the economy of the piece. "Ecate (Walpurgisnacht)" continues with the golden dark feel which is another of the common threads of "La Crudeltà Di Aprile", which the valuable lyrics remind us once again. The album ends with "Horror Vacui", a suite with over 17 minutes. The suite is divided into four sections, two of which are instrumental. Once again the keyboards reign, with ever-changing sounds. Tarasconi's singing also fully convinces, even if it's probably in the third instrumental part of the suite, "Nel Sonno Della Ragione" that the suite reaches the real climax of pathos and drama with great quality of the solo interventions.

Conclusion: "La Crudeltà Di Aprile" is a superb high-end symphonic progressive rock album that combines power, melody and liveliness in an endless farandole. The very diverse and analog keyboards lead the dance and the bass gives roundness and mellowness to the whole for an Italian progressive worthy of the great alumni of the 70's. The compositions are excellent, very full with intelligent and surprising breaks which keep the interest as the jazzy or hard rock forays which spice up the whole. The album has also an originality, their guitarist, Francesca Zanetta, a musician who delivers us beautiful guitar parts, a female presence that I would like to have more frequently in other bands in the next future. So, Unreal City can rival with the bigest names in the Italian progressive rock scene, past and present. They have a haunting quality in their music, filled with melancholy, sorrow and hope. This is another great Italian prog work.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Frammenti Notturni by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.82 | 136 ratings

BUY
Frammenti Notturni
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Lost another review so here's the short version. This is UNREAl CITY's third studio album and I found the first two studio albums to be very solid 4 star albums slightly preferring the second one. While there has been some glowing reviews for this one it's still rated lower than the first two on this site(before I submitted this review) and I agree with that. I found this a little disappointing despite that over 13 minute opener that to me stands out as the best song on here. The mellotron is sampled like on the first two albums but I still like it, just wish there was more.

"La Grande Festa In Maschera" is my favourite as I just mentioned. Check out the nasty opening, more please! Unfortunately that intensity is missing on this record. Lots of tempo shifts on this one and I like that it's heavier later on.

"Le Luci Delle Case(Spente)" doesn't do much for me until 4 minutes in when it sounds much better as the violin steps aside and a calm follows. Reserved vocals join in as well. It kicks in again as contrasts continue. A change 7 minutes in as the synths come to the fore, not really into this but I do like when it turns fuller including the vocals late.

"Barricate" is more of the same really with the contrasts between the laid back and more fuller sections. I do like the organ led section 4 minutes in which is followed by a guitar solo.

"Il Nido Delle Succubi" has this bouncy start that will come and go. Check out the mellotron though just before 30 seconds. It's so brief but it's the best part of the album for me which says a lot. I don't like that passage that starts before 4 minutes. Is that harpsichord? A sample from a James Stewart movie I believe can be heard as James gets emotional and when that sample stops the music kicks in with power. Nice.

"Arrivi All'Aurora" ends it and it begins with fragile vocals and piano. Piano only after 2 minutes then it turns fuller with bass then more as it builds. Synths lead after 3 minutes then it settles back with mellotron and drums standing out. It starts to wind down late.

For me this is a clear step down from the first two albums but not everyone agrees apparently(haha). Just my two cents worth but I'll stick with their first two albums thankyou!

 Frammenti Notturni by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.82 | 136 ratings

BUY
Frammenti Notturni
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by omphaloskepsis

5 stars 93/100 At first I thought "Fammenti Notturni" translated to " Night Families". However Francesca Zanetta (Unreal City's guitarist) corrected my faux pas and provided an explanation for the title Fammenti Notturni,

"Night Fragments. This is not a concept album, so there not a common theme for the entire album but every song is a sort of fleeting glimpse whose object is the darkness, the nocturnal darkness which lives in men, relationships, societies and cities."

Dark shadows abound down the wet unlit backstreets of Unreal City. Unreal City must have made a deal with the devil to deliver this beauty. Hope it's a 10 album deal. Unreal City pushed previous boundaries, evolved, and basically did what all great prog bands do. They moved on. Unwilling to sit upon their laurels, Unreal City progressed, delved far, deep and wide, fermenting into a fine vintage wine.

"Fammenti Notturni finds Unreal City charting virgin territory while retaining the signature sound which originally attracted me to Unreal City's world. "One for all and all for one" rings pure and drives the Unreal City train. The musician set an Italian table of delights for lead vocalist Emanuele Tarasconi passionate romantic vocals. Eamanuele also contributes piano, synth, Mellotron, clavinet, theremin, acoustatic guitar. Dario Pessina bass and backing vocals are as crucial to the Unreal City sound as the Mike Mill's bass and harmonies to REM'.

I wish I could describe "Frammenti Notturni" as well as Progachive Collaborator "Aussie-Byrd-Brother's" prose poem review of "Frammenti Notturni" fleshes out each section with razor sharp incites revealing vivid cathedral aural frescos plastered across the album that is "Frmmenti Notturni". I'll stick to my stick figure cave drawn review. I recommend you peruse Aussie-Byrd-Brothers most illuminating resplendent descriptions, historical background, and insightful observations on Unreal City and "Fammenti Notturni."

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. In the best of times we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a golden era of modern prog. Admit it! We're living thru a glorious prog revival! For sure the subgenre of RPI is experiencing a lovely renaissance. Led by three bands of youngsters... Unreal City, Ingranaggi Della Valle, and IL Tempio Delle Clessidre. Three ambitious Italian bands like Jason and the Argonauts before them, slay the hydra, fleece the golden fleece and tame the three headed hell hound of Hades, as Cyerbus nuzzles Persephone's pomegranate cheeks and lips. Inspired, Pluto's concubine composes epic poetry and the members of Unreal City snatch out of the ether. It's magic! "Fammenti Notturni" bubbles and boils melodic riffs, proggy woodpecker reincarnated into powerful percussion , snappy bass basted in velvety vestal vocal sause. So happy to taste the newest addition to mega talented RPI bands leading the electric charge into a breathtaking Italian renaissance Shangri-La .

Someday, many years from now, music critics will point to this vintage Italian revival and Unreal City as the "good old days." On a more personal note, my wife and I are obsessive RPI buffs. Guided by progachive reviews, we've purchased over 70 RPI albums in the last 8 years. I may not be an expert, however fancy myself as a RPI connoisseur, I can claim with confidence the Italian renaissance is upon us. Enjoy it while you can! Smoke 'em while you got 'em!

Since the postman delivered my copy of "Fammenti Notturni" I've spun the vinyl at least 15 times. It's a rare prog album I immediately liked and yet "Fammenti Notturni" grows on me too. Like all primo prog albums, each listen reveals secret treaties, deeper depth, hidden jewels, shivers down the spine, and "Ah-ha" epiphanies missed the first time around.

I rank "Fammenti Notturni" as Unreal Cities 2nd best album, barely behind their debut Masterpiece- "La Crudelta Di Arprile" However, all three Unreal City albums weave intricate dazzling tapestries threading the needle, splintering the sweet spot, mysterious luxurious keyboards, juicy yet eclectic drumming of Marco Garbin. Marco adds tone and groovy flourishes that surprise and make me smile. Francesca Zanetta's guitar licks adorn songs beauteously without overpowering the core composition and I got to say- Francesca is my new mellotron muse! Emanuele Tarasconi's vocals are romantically divine and to die for. The members of Unreal City are an aural stream of consciousness that seeps, runs, finally rapidly bursts into brooks and silvery streams feeding a riotous river of red wine and honey. Speaking of red wine music...

I'm tempted to splurge on a bottles of deep dry red vintage Italian vinos, when immersing myself into "Fammenti Notturni". Pardon my boldness but may I take the liberty to recommend 5 delicious Italian Vino Rossos corresponding to "Fammenti Notturni's" 5 compositions? In order: Barolo, Barbaresco, Amarone, Gattinara, and Brunello.

Women? My wife and other women friends find themselves swooning into Francesca's licks and Unreal City's melodic, hypnotic romanticism. Not something you see often in prog circles.

In my opinion "Fammenti Notturni" = Best RPI album of 2017 ...so far! Don't be surprised if Unreal City continues to top themselves album after album after album. 5 out of 5 spicy, wooden, oaken vintage Italian Profundo Rosso Vinos. Essential addition to Italian Prog Collectors!

 Frammenti Notturni by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.82 | 136 ratings

BUY
Frammenti Notturni
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars RPI band Unreal City made an instant splash in modern progressive rock circles when their debut `La Crudeltà Di Aprile' arrived back in 2013, an energetic and confident first work given a profile boost by the backing of modern Italian prog icon Fabio Zuffanti. The young and talented-beyond-their-years group followed it up two years later with the possibly even superior `Il Paese del Tramonto', and a further two on from that brings us to the crucial third album, `Frammenti Notturi'. It's wonderful to discover that it maintains the exact same quality of their first two discs, as well as frequently introducing a new and fresh approach that ensures the band confirms they have plenty of fiery inspiration and ideas left to be realised in the future!

`Frammenti Notturi' may hold plenty of the usual Unreal City characteristics - doomed symphonic and romantic moods blasted with constant instrumental flights-of-fancy delivered with a youthful zest - check! But this time, the band have frequently given their music a heavier grunt as well as a wickedly addictive dirtier (and more dangerous!) instrumental backing, they've placed a lot of prominence on the addition of violin in the first half to further acknowledge their vintage Italian prog heritage, they've incorporated some subtle and unexpected electronics, and they've even dialled back on the more overly swooning catchier vocal moments of the first two discs. But most importantly, `Frammenti Notturi' also proves to be their most grandiose and often equally (and very importantly) subtle and richly detailed artistic musical statement to date, even more evidence of their growing maturity and surety as a group.

Of the five pieces on offer, the band open with the five-part suite `La Grande Festa In Maschera', and a boisterous, aggressive and tasty behemoth it is, with three of the core founding line-up, joined by new drummer Marco Garbin, battering through a range of loopy and high-energy instrumental symphonic themes. But this time around, there's plenty of distortion and wilder noise throughout to a heavier guitar approach and jazzier touches, and guest violinist Matteo Bertani is given free reign to weave through the bluster and stormy attack with searing feeling. The standouts are Dario Pessina's upfront thick bass bouncing with ferocious purpose around Marco's versatile and peppy drumming, Francesca Zanetta's maddening King Crimson-like guitar splinters and vocalist Emanuele Tarasconi's jagged piano stabbings, and his fuzzed-up noisy Fender Rhodes-like soloing in the climax gives the Italian Canterbury sound band The Winstons a run for their money! Play this piece loud, and especially listen out for the deeply sexy distortion rumbles that start at about the 9:55 mark!

`Le Luci delle Case (Spente)' is dramatic and...even a little playful! Francesca's guitars melt into erupting molten electric distortion and slick electric piano glistenings have the piece taking on a seductive heavy groove early on, and Emanuele's charismatic voice purrs with charm and roars with chest-beating pride in the finale. In it's upbeat jovial moments with rollicking synths and scratchy violin, the track actually almost embraces a fancier and whimsical quality that may remind some listeners of seminal Italian prog band Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM).

The shortest piece at just under six minutes, `Barricate' is perhaps the closest to a `traditional' lovingly melancholic and romantic Unreal City tune, but teasing a low-key jazzy buoyancy from electric piano tiptoes. It then proceeds to gently introduce spacey fizzing electronics and diverts into an aggressive solo spot in the middle highlighted by supremely dirty Hammond organ and grumbling bass, and the ringing guitar shimmers sound like they've wandered off a modern Marillion album. The stuttering bass stabs, whirring keyboards and snappy drumming of horror tale `Il Nido delle Succubi' suggest the musical approach of Unreal City's current touring friends, fellow young Italian band Kalisantrope, might be rubbing off on them, but the piece eventually comes to resemble a captivating spectral pantomime laced with prancing harpsichord, ghostly Mellotron choirs and eclectic Steve Hackett/Genesis-flavoured regal synths.

But what a closer `Arrivi all'Aurora' turns out to be...where in some moments on the earlier discs the band have giddily raced off into delirious extended keyboard soloing and busy instrumental interplay at many opportunities, here they strip things back for a sombre and elegant piano-driven ballad that eventually takes flight into joyful skies. Emanuele's weary voice moves between wounded romance and eerie treated moments, and the more slower-paced, restrained soloing from the whole band in the second half shows great poise and genuine emotion, making this finale come across as a very important piece in the continuing development of the group.

`Frammenti Notturi' is everything a third album should be - not a band merely coasting on past successes, but taking their recognisable sound and fusing it with dynamic new ideas as well as only beginning to hint at possible new directions and fresh sounds to be explored on albums to come. It's also admirable that the group, despite their much-loved status in the current Italian Prog community, have defiantly refused to not only streamline their music into overtly melodic and catchier shorter pieces to try and lure in more commercial audiences, but resisted the urge to sing in English, and if anything, this disc seems designed to appeal much more to long-term fans of the group than newcomers (who might be better off checking out the previous two albums to start off with).

This is classic Italian symphonic music given a proudly `pure prog' bombastic approach with a modern sensibility delivered by an impeccably skilled young band in Unreal City, who've not only released their third exceptional disc in a row, but have absolutely delivered one of the standout Italian prog works of 2017 that will be greatly loved by their fans.

Five stars.

 Il Paese del Tramonto by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.06 | 387 ratings

BUY
Il Paese del Tramonto
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Representing a fresh new generation of Italian prog musicians, the members of Unreal City take the group's sound from strength to strength on this second album. No sophomore slump for this talented group - if anything, tighter production and some absolutely gorgeous compositions helps refined the style of La Crudeltà di Aprile, as well as prompting them to dip into some unexpected stylistic detours along the way - the intro to La Meccanica Dell'Ombra, for instance, takes in a range of Middle Eastern musical styles and gives a spacey enough twist to them to resemble something that Ozric Tentacles might belt out. Unreal City are at the top of their game here, and I'm eager to see where they go next.
 Il Paese del Tramonto by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.06 | 387 ratings

BUY
Il Paese del Tramonto
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars While I really enjoyed this young band's debut it didn't blow me away like it seemed to do to so many. And unlike most I'm more impressed with this the followup which just connects with me a lot more. Love both of their album covers by the way. This is rather long at over 70 minutes and it includes an over 20 minute closing suite. This was the highest placing RPI album in the "Album of the Year" voting for 2015.

"Ouverture: Obscurus Fio" has this surprising psychedelic intro that really impresses me before piano only takes over. It kicks into gear before 1 1/2 minutes as vocal melodies then synths lead the way. This is amazing. Emotion 4 1/2 minutes in as the guitar joins in. "Oniromanzia" sounds incredible as well to start with those keyboards then it turns powerful rather quickly. It mellows out with synths out front before 1 1/2 minutes then we get some nice guitar which ends when the vocals arrive for the first time on this album. Some cool instrumental work 4 minutes in including the bass work. The organ follows as it stays all instrumental. The vocals return briefly and we get lots of synths late.

"Caligari" opens with atmosphere and samples as picked guitar and bass join in. Higher pitched synths start to lead. The guitar replaces the synths before 2 minutes but the synths return followed by organ as the drums pound. A change before 3 minutes as it turns brighter and the vocals join in. Catchy stuff with background synths, piano and more. Lots of piano during an instrumental break. Melancholic synths follow then vocal melodies replace the synths. Some cool vocal arrangements follow then it kicks in hard at 8 1/2 minutes. So good! "La Meccanica Dell'ombra" has a very AREA-like start which is fantastic to say the least. Love this stuff! Violin before 2 minutes then prominent bass before that AREA-like flavour returns. A calm with piano follows then it starts to build. Nice guitar here then another calm as themes are repeated. There's that AREA sound before 6 1/2 minutes then the organ leads the way.

"Il Nome Di Lei" sounds really to start with plenty of depth then it lightens quickly. Back to that more fuller sound and this is all so interesting the way it changes and developes. Piano only 3 minutes in as reserved vocals join in. An instrumental break with relaxed guitar follows. Nice. The vocals are back 5 12 minutes in. This is such an uplifting track. "Lo Schermo Di Pietra(Kenosis)" is uptempo to begin with including lots of keyboards. The bass is excellent then it settles back with piano and vocals. Mellotron before 2 minutes. The guitar follows as the vocals stop then it picks up with organ after 3 minutes. The vocals are back then we get a calm after 5 minutes. Check out the organ before 6 minutes. Killer!

"Ex Tenebrae Lux" is the closing suite and it's worth over 20 minutes of music. I really like the melancholy to start in the form of keyboards and synths. It kicks in hard around 3 minutes and it sounds like clavinet before 4 minutes. Great sound. A CAMEL vibe around 5 1/2 minutes but it's brief. Violin after 6 minutes followed by a calm as the vocals join in. Piano leads after 8 minutes as the vocals stop. The vocals are back quickly as the tempo picks up. Another calm 9 1/2 minutes in and check out the bass before 10 minutes! Love the keyboards that join in here. Guitar as well as it turns powerful. The vocals are back before 12 minutes. Lots of synths too trading off with the vocals. A calm with piano after 13 minutes then mellotron a minute later followed by laid back guitar then synths. The tempo continues to change then we get these theatrical spoken words. The vocals late sound incredible.

A must for RPI fans out there and thank God for these talented young Italian bands making the kind of music that the seventies RPI bands would be proud of.

 Il Paese del Tramonto by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.06 | 387 ratings

BUY
Il Paese del Tramonto
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Prog Maniack

5 stars I wanted to do another review, but I hear this superb album and I postponed the other review to do this one instead. My reason to do that was a simple one: this album is just fantastic in my opinion. Is dark, dramatic and mysterious and of course, is prog. I cannot stop from listening to this treasure.

Old is blending with new in a beautiful musical landscape. I hear symphonic, neo prog, Canterbury, space rock, some Pink Floyd guitar solos, some Genesis moments combined with new prog rock sounds. Just beautiful! Love it!

The music is very complex with many rhythm and tempo changes and you hear this from the very beginning. I'm amazed that one song can contain so many beautiful ideas. All that is a result of band's high musicianship.

My surprise was even bigger when I saw that the band members are very young. Is a good thing that a new generation is coming with new ideas, but in the same time take best from prog rock heritage which is so vast and complex.

I don't know if these songs were sung in English were exposed to a larger audience. I suppose they lose some of the dark and mystery feeling, that is so present in this band music. I, for one, don't want that.

This is by far no.1 album for me this year. So far. But is hard to compete with that, even for the band itself. We'll see. Time will tell. My sole regret is that I'll have to wait for another album of this band. I hope my wait will be a short one.

Best songs: ALL, no weak moments here, in my opinion.

 Il Paese del Tramonto by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.06 | 387 ratings

BUY
Il Paese del Tramonto
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars Two years ago, a young Italian group based in Parma, under the guidance of modern RPI notable Fabio Zuffanti, released an incredibly vibrant and confident debut album `La Crudelta di Aprile'. That band was Unreal City, and it ended up being one of the Italian Prog highlights of 2013, as well as a thrilling progressive rock work in general. Full of a dazzling variety of instrumental flair, charismatic vocals, winning melodies and ambitious symphonic arrangements, thankfully the band have delivered another winner of an album with their follow-up `Il Paese del Tramonto' (The Country of Sunset). While it holds to some of the format of the first album, this time around the band adds even more theatrical moments, longer jazzier passages and carefully cultured qualities that brings it closer to the rich history of music from their home country. Considering their young age, the band show a complete devouring and knowledge of vintage RPI bands both popular and more obscure, virtually overdosing on those sounds and applying it to their own contemporary style. It's retro by way of a sleek modern sound, all played with youthful vigour and presented in an attractive package that will likely instantly appeal to both a younger audience and established veteran prog rock and RPI listeners.

Right from the opening instrumental `Ouverture - Obscuris Fio', frontman and keyboard player Emanuele Tarasconi is front and center, covering the piece with his swooning yet sombre classical piano, spinning Moog dashes, Fender Rhodes splinters and orchestral Mellotron blasts. Federico Bedostri's drums skitter with driving purpose once the piece jumps up in buoyant tempo, and female player Francesca Zanetta offers a tease of the symphonic guitar greatness to come. With a case of Banco-like schizophrenic musical multiple-personality, `Oniromanzia' may open as a gutsier tune with initially bluesy guitar soloing, electric piano and a reflective lead vocal from Emanuele, but it quickly diverts into energetic jazzy drumming and fiery Hammond organ runs, early King Crimson-esque regal fanfares and all manner of whirring synth goodness. Darker gothic moods permeate `Caligari', Dario Pessina's bass creeping and lurking, eerie Antonia Rex/Goblin- like synth weirdness playfully trilling and imposing organ booming. Stately flights of fancy in the manner of early Genesis rise around a prancing theatrical vocal purr and Francesca's guitar whimsy before the piece careens away into nimble piano runs and a snarling heavy finale.

Violin and accordion strains bring echoes of more folky Italian music of old throughout `La Meccanica dell'ombra', with creeping bass strolling around the background, sitar-like echoing guitar strains, thoughtful delicate classical piano and no shortage of schizophrenic synth delirium! The band don't always feel the need to dial the instrumental prog-outs up to 11, and the dreamy vibes that float through `Il Nome di Lei' show just how well the band do calmer and more direct tunes, with gorgeous ringing electric and soothing acoustic guitar soloing and some prancing harpsichord prettiness that tickles of classic RPI. The deranged `Lo Schermo di Pietra (Kenosis)' is full of hyperactive instrumental explosions, break-neck tempo changes and punky boisterous vocals, and the orgy of keyboard orgasm all over it makes it the `adult movie' of modern RPI by way of hyperactive good-looking youngsters overdosing on filthy battery-acid energy drinks!

But once again, just like on the first disc, the group save the best until last, and the twenty-plus minute four part suite `Ex Tenebrae Lux' is the highlight of the album. Dynamic and daring, playful and determined to impress, the longer running time allows the band to more calmly explore new directions without trying to cram in quite so many quicker racing passages and shorter pieces. Everything from malevolent spectral piano tiptoes, easy-going breezy jazzy electric piano and light jazz/fusion bass grooves, fiery guitar and rippling Fender Rhodes duelling back and forth are included, and some drifting electronic drones hint at new and daring directions the band should consider exploring more in the future. With a greater sense of build, atmosphere and emotion, the music here is truly joyful, and this epic is a big step up in maturity and sophistication for the band while also showing greater subtlety.

Some listeners may find it a little disappointing that, considering Emanuele is an impressive vocalist full of flair, there's more emphasis placed on longer instrumental sections. But this is a case of band really showing what they can do musically as a proper group, giving attention to all the players and letting their abilities shine through. Considering there's a great buzz around the band, they could have focussed more on shorter, more simplistic vocal pieces, or (even worse) chosen to sing in English in a misguided attempt to appeal to a wider audience. But instead, they've delved even further into more ballistic, self-indulgent and pompous Italian prog rock than ever before, and progressive listeners will be in absolute heaven! The first album might just have the edge with stronger tunes, and this one may lack the initial surprise that hit when their debut first arrived, but `Il Paese del Tramonto' is a gifted band taking their own sound, influences and supreme musical talent even further, and it's just as good as the debut while promising so much more exciting music to come in the future.

Another five stars for a shining light in the modern RPI world!

Thanks to seventhsojourn for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.