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BANAAU / HOLLOWSCENE

Symphonic Prog • Italy


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Banaau / Hollowscene biography
Founded in 1990 as Banaau - Reformed in 2016 as Hollowscene

The band was formed in 1990 by guitar player Andrea MASSIMO and keyboard player Lino CICALA. The music was inspired by texts of T.S. Elliot's poem for the 25 minutes song "The Hollow Men" and for the 40 minutes song "Love Song". "The Worm" is inspired by E.A. Poe and his a 10 minutes song, but with more complex harmonies to show the drama of the text. The following years the band played this project live but despite the great success of that song it has never been distributed. And making those songs were a difficult task for the band which results in the departure in 1992 of the drummer Davide QUACQUARELLA and shortly after the bass player Dino PANTALEO The duo went on to play with other artists. In 2011, the duo met again after 20 years and decided to continue working on songs written by Andrea in the past years and this project made possible the release in 2015 of the EP "The Burial" who is again one twenty minutes songs inspired by texts of T.S. Eliot and divided in 5 tracks. This album is influenced by their love for the modern music and their study of old instruments and knowledge of different music genres. The music is Symphonic Prog with influences from GENESIS and STEVE HACKETT. The band is working on new songs and on the old songs to be released in the future, they will attend The FIM festival in Italy, September 11. The duo are hired some other artists for the recordings and the live shows until they find a permanent line-up.

Bio by rdtprog

Note: In 2016 the band has changed their name to Hollowscene.

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BANAAU / HOLLOWSCENE discography


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3.80 | 32 ratings
Hollowscene
2018

BANAAU / HOLLOWSCENE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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

4.83 | 6 ratings
The Burial
2015

BANAAU / HOLLOWSCENE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hollowscene by BANAAU / HOLLOWSCENE album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.80 | 32 ratings

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Hollowscene
Banaau / Hollowscene Symphonic Prog

Review by Agnenrecords

4 stars Hollowscene began life in 1990 as a duo called Banaau formed of guitar player Andrea Massimo and keyboard player Lino Cicala. They recruited drummer Davide Quacquarella and bassist player Dino Pantaleo to perform long-form suites inspired by T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men and The Love Story of J Alfred Prufrock, and Edgar Allan Poe's The Conqueror Worm, but didn't spend any time recording the material. There was a hiatus following the departures of Quacquarella and Pantaleo lasting from the early 90s until 2011 when the pair met again and agreed to continue working on songs written by Massimo during that almost 20 year gap.

In 2015 they officially re-emerged as a septet, augmented by Andrea Zani on keyboards, Elton Novara on guitar, Tony Alemanno on bass guitar and bass pedals, Matteo Paparazzo on drums and Demetra Fogazza playing flute and adding vocals, and released a highly-acclaimed 20 minute-long EP The Burial inspired by The Burial of the Dead, the first of five sections of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land (1922). For their first full-length album, Massimo and Cicala changed the band name to Hollowscene and replaced Novara with guitarist Walter Kesten. The new moniker recalls T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men but is also a play on the current geological era, the Holocene, and could even allude to the general state of music, a hollow scene. Once again, this features a lengthy concept, a five-part suite Broken Coriolanus plus a reworked version of The Worm, one of their original compositions, anda cover version of The Moon is Down, a 1971 Gentle Giant song taken from Acquiring the Taste.

'Broken Coriolanus' is another T.S. Eliot reference, appearing in line 215 of The Waste Land:

Only at nightfall, aethereal rumours

Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus

This is itself a reference to Shakespeare's tragedy Coriolanus, based on the life of the legendary Roman general Caius Marcius Coriolanus who, following military success against uprisings challenging the government of Rome becomes active in politics. A proud, rude but genuine character whose nature, according to Menenius in the play

...is too noble for the world:

He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,

Or Jove for's power to thunder. His heart's his mouth:

What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent

Such a temperament made him unsuited to popular leadership and he is quickly deposed but, being true, he sets about trying to right wrongs in his own way and is forced to choose between his pride and his love for his family, ultimately bringing about his sad death.

I picked up the CD following Hollowscene's performance in Milan in 2018 ? the live sound was first-class symphonic prog that reminded me alternately of Tony Bank's keyboard work for Genesis and, perhaps because of the double keyboards, occasional jazz phrasing of the guitar and the flute, National Health circa 1978. The moment I clicked play on the CD it was immediately obvious that Hollowscene is a very fine piece of rock progressivo Italiano.

First track Welcome to Rome is simultaneously a modern-sounding and classic prog piece. It begins with a fairly brief sinuous synthesizer and guitar line in an uncompromising time signature and gives way to a military rhythm which is very fitting with the theme, just before the vocals begin over harmonic flute lines. You get the immediate impression that it's an uplifting (welcoming!) song, aided by fluent synth parts, though there's a rhythmical complexity underlying the entire piece. All the singing on the album is in well-delivered English. Massimo has a good voice that suits the story-telling requirements of the music; he's not over-flashy and confines himself to a fairly narrow range, but he sings with a studied confidence. The group have a full, well-balanced sound and it's clear that Genesis, Steve Hackett and Banks in particular, are a major influence.

A Brave Fellow follows in much the same vein; highly melodic, again with the same clean lead guitar which gives way to some excellent synth. A flute passage gives way to emotive piano and vocals, with constantly changing instrumentation and sounds. When the second set of vocals finish, they're followed by an eerie synth with a staccato rhythm, replaced by organ that harks back to classic 70's progressivo Italiano; slightly threatening, building gradually towards the denouement.

Traitor is played with a slightly increased tempo. It's a predominantly vocal piece punctuated by relatively short but really tasteful guitar breaks, the second, soaring, more lengthy than the first. That's not to say there isn't a great deal going on underneath the singing; there are busy keyboard parts, some strong melodic flute and the contrast of a short burst of more breathy flute.

Slippery Turns is more sedate than the previous track, beginning with more of the emotive piano and vocals before being joined by flute. It takes an unexpected departure with a passage in Japanese from Atsumori, a classical musical drama by Zeami Motokiyo who lived from around the late 14th century to the mid 15th century, narrated by Takehiro Ueki; Atsumori was a 16 year-old killed in the battle of Ichi-no-Tani in 1184 who is said to have carried a flute into battle, evidence of his peaceful, courtly nature as well as his youth and naïveté. Eliot is believed to have invoked Coriolanus for The Waste Land as an allusion to death in battle:

Human life lasts only 50 years, Contrast human life with life of Geten, It is but a very dream and illusion. Once they are given life from god, there is no such thing don't perish

The tone on the Japanese-spoken section is solemn but gives way to one of Hollowscene's trademark guitar breaks. Massimo speaks the last section over another staccato rhythm that reminds me of Watcher of the Skies, without the Mellotron, but with some bright synth.

Rage and Sorrow is a mini-epic and at a little over 13 minutes, the longest track on the CD. The development of the composition takes in the full range of keyboard sounds you'd associate with prog and there's a really good balance between vocal and instrumental passages. Fogazza takes on shared lead vocal duties at the beginning of the piece, which I thought were reminiscent of Amanda Parsons singing on National Health; a strong, clear, unaffected voice. A truly dynamic conclusion to the concept, one of the sections that most move me is an emotive 12 string guitar accompanied by highly melodic flute akin to the classic Genesis sound on Foxtrot or Selling England by the Pound but throughout the track the twin guitars really work well, with nice angular riffs providing a framework for the vocal melody lines.

The Worm commences with an extended passage of gorgeous early Crimson-like flute, floating above picked guitar chords and keyboard washes which I think best represents progressive rock. The keyboard line which is introduced prior to the vocals is closer to neo-prog, perhaps reflecting the era in which the song was originally written, demonstrating that Hollowscene aren't simply attempting to recreate a 70's vibe but selecting suitable references to make some outstanding modern symphonic prog. The song undergoes a number of tempo changes, injecting a sense of urgency with the use of triplets and even gets quite dark.

Gentle Giant's original The Moon is Down is relatively sparse, containing brief flashes of texture, with phased clarinet, sax and multi-tracked vocals and a relatively urgent instrumental middle section which could be seen as a template for the GG medieval sound; Hollowscene stamp their own form on the song with different instrumentation, beginning the piece with piano and flute but using fuzzed guitar behind the vocals, adding lead synthesizer to their middle section. It's a nice nod to one of the classic 70s progressive rock bands.

The band have used the same image for the Burial EP and Hollowscene, taken by acknowledged master photographer Ernesto Fantozzi in 1961. The photo appears to be a view towards the Via Biscegli in Milan from the west or south west where the frozen ground fits the imagery of Eliot's opening lines for The Waste Land. This attention to detail reflects the care in which the album has been put together. It's altogether a satisfying and very fine piece of work. I really hope we hear a lot more from them.

An excellent piece of work and an easy 4.5 stars

 Hollowscene by BANAAU / HOLLOWSCENE album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.80 | 32 ratings

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Hollowscene
Banaau / Hollowscene Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars This Italian project was founded in 1990 as Banaau by the duo Andrea Massimo (guitar) and Lino Cicala (keyboards), their work was inspired by literature from T.S. Elliot and E.A.Poe. The following years the band alternated between success and disappointments and finally disbanded. But in 2011 Andrea and Lino reunited and released the EP The Burial in 2015. Then they changed their name into Hollowscene and released the eponymous debut album on the known Italian prog label Black Widow Records in 2018. As a 7-piece formation, including two players on guitar, two on keyboard, a flute player, a drummer and a bass player with bass pedals.

After a few listening sessions I conclude that Hollowscene makes wonderful music, obviously Seventies Genesis inspired (especially the SEBTP and W&W albums) but also with hints from IQ (bombastic parts with howling electric guitar). The six own very melodic and harmonic compositions (ranging from 5.58 to 13.13) alternate between dreamy with soaring flute, tender piano and warm twanging acoustic guitars and bombastic with flashy synthesizer flights, lots of angelic Mellotron choirs and powerful Hammond organ . This is topped by many moving and sensitive electric guitar soli, often evoking Steve Hackett but also Mike Holmes. The compositions sound very pleasant with a tasteful colouring by guitars, keyboards and flutes.

The final track is the Gentle Giant cover The Moon Is Down (from the 1971 album Acquiring The Taste), Hollowscene has succeeded to give this song a beautiful own flavour, no brass but the emphasis on piano and flute. But now to the vocals: the English is decent but not only in this track but also in the other six compositions his voice lacks power, intensity and passion. As an instrument the vocals don't sound at the level of the other instruments, in a negative way. I wish he had sung in his native language, this would have matched way better with the wonderful and varied symphonic rock on this album.

My rating: 3,5 star.

The first edition of this review was recently published on Dutch prog website Background Magazine.

For more information about other, very interesting Italian prog band O.A.K. (not on PA) their splendid album Giordano Bruno (2018), see my social comment.

 Hollowscene by BANAAU / HOLLOWSCENE album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.80 | 32 ratings

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Hollowscene
Banaau / Hollowscene Symphonic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This Italian band started in 1990 but didn't release anything until the EP The Burial in 2015. Since that they have changed the band name from Banaau to Hollowscene. They seem to be strongly inspired by classic literature: the early, unreleased compositions were based on the poems of T. S. Eliot. This new release contains 'The Worm', based on E. A. Poe's poem "The Conqueror Worm", which was composed in the early nineties as well. The main thing here is the five-part, roughly 42-minute epic 'Broken Coriolanus' based on the tragedy by William Shakespeare. Respect for that! To think of all childish, fantasy-oriented stories that the history of prog is so full of... Well, maybe I was carried away a little, as I'm a lover of literature, and anyway I'm not familiar with Coriolanus (the play).

Onto the music. It is very symphonically structured. 70's Genesis is mentioned in the artist bio as a reference, and indeed up to the point. The sound is somewhere between the golden era of prog (especially for the analog-sounding keyboards) and the Neo Prog of this Millennium. The vocals are rather clean and technically convincing, but perhaps slightly lacking of passion and personality. Although the line-up consists of seven musicians - guitars and keyboards are doubled - the sound never gets too thick. There's an airiness I'd compare to WILLOWGLASS. The most notable difference between Willowglass and Hollowscene is that the latter has vocals. Flautist Demetra Fogazza also adds her vocals in the final part of the epic; a pity she's not singing at least to the equal measure with the guys. The epic is very solid and dynamic. Some more instrumental approach would have been great, but the lyrics seem quite good and perhaps in time I'll get some hold of the story too (for me the music always comes first, in all music).

'The Worm' (7:54) starts in a peaceful tempo starring flute and guitar, before the whole band and the vocals arrive. Again the structure of the composition is very symphonic; it's such a rollercoaster ride within the limited length. The CD ends with a nice cover version of GENTLE GIANT's 'The Moon Is Down'. However I clearly prefer the original: this one's technically excellent, but it doesn't reach the magical, nocturnal atmosphere.

All in all, this album is excellent work of melodic, classic-style symphonic prog with modern flavours to the sound. In theory, this could be a five-star masterpiece, but somehow the emotional side of my reception never reaches to heavens. Maybe it's mainly the vocals, but there's a slight clinical feel to this marvelous music. A strong four stars, without a question!

 Hollowscene by BANAAU / HOLLOWSCENE album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.80 | 32 ratings

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Hollowscene
Banaau / Hollowscene Symphonic Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team

4 stars The band has a new name and a new line-up but continue to make concept albums, this time about Shakespeare's tragedy "Coriolanus". The band added to their line-up Demetra Fogazza who plays an important role on this album with the flute, but was already working as a session musician in 2017. The music of Hollowscene is inspired by the 70's symphonic Progressive rock, mostly Genesis and Steve Hackett, but the influences of Versus-X, the singer and leader of this band Arne Shaëfer is even more obvious. The songs have that dramatic beauty of the symphonic prog rock music that is based on extended passages, where every instrument shine through some sumptuous melodies. The atmosphere of the music covers different tempos and moods rarely boring. The playing of two members on the guitar, two others members on the keyboards and the addition of plenty of flutes gives to the music that rich sound. Some of the guitar and keyboards parts are breathtaking in some long instrumental break. The album ends with a cover of Gentle Giant, a little surprise here! Recommended to your Prog collection...
Thanks to rdtprog for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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