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Finisterre - Finisterre CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.70 | 71 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars The Nineties was hardly the most fertile time for Italian prog and RPI flavoured bands, but one of them that instantly stood out and are still very highly spoken about are the mighty Finisterre, formed in Genoa in 1993. The group is sometimes a little unfairly thought of these days as `That group Fabio Zuffanti used to play in (Zuffanti, for those not in the know, is perhaps the closest Italian equivalent to someone like Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson, a modern progressive music icon of great status, talent and knowledge in the progressive music community)', but they were so much more than that, with that evidence rife throughout their dynamic self-titled debut from 1995. It may offer all the classical and theatrical bombast that many Italian groups do, but `Finisterre' also manages to capture the tough danger that permeated many of those best-kept-secret RPI discs a world away from the polish of many of the more widely known classics, and it delivers plenty of the ravishing playing, raw unpredictability and daring experimentation of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso.

Predominantly (perhaps surprisingly) instrumental, sure enough the disc even opens with two of them, `Aqua' a low-key ambient introduction, but `Asia' is a classic RPI blast of skittering drums, searing heavy keyboards and coarse guitar blasts, where Sergio Grazia's dirty huffing flute calls to mind Biglietto per L'Inferno's classic debut and the crisp guitar solo in the finale contains a distinctly 80's icy Marillion tone. Once the disc settles into its first longer vocal piece,`Macinaaqua, Macinaluna', it reveals sweeping fanciful themes with little traces of whimsy and playfulness, even finding time to playfully flit in and out of popular classical themes. Fabio's bass is proudly thick and slinking, Boris Valle's keys offer everything from whirring electronics, upfront synth noodling and doomed romantic piano, and not only do Stefano Marelli's guitars weave seductively in a Pink Floyd-by-way-of-the-blues manner, but he also delivers a wounded and melancholic vocal with a tasty hint of pleading madness!

The snaking guitars, sparkling early a.m hours piano, murky slithering bass and sharp rattling snap to Marco Cavani's jazzy drums of improvised instrumental `...Dal Caos...' creep with the same strangled tension of early King Crimson, but it's a mere tease at only just over three minutes and clearly truncated from a longer jam before its proper end. The fifteen minute instrumental `Συν' is another of the longer pieces, a highly emotional epic of contrasting moods and schizophrenic direction changes, full of whimsical and spirited up-tempo runs and big symphonic moments. Much attention is given to sparkling classical piano and Sergio's sublime flute, but it also seductively works in reflective violin, looping electronics, strangled sax, and a haunting male/female operatic choir.

`Isis' turns stormy and tough in between washes of ambient electronics, droning treated faraway multi-tracked vocals and unhurried mysterious improvised drifts in the manner of King Crimson's `Moonchild' and a stark but ultimately hopeful acoustic finale, and Fabio takes the lead vocal for the surprisingly pretty and pleasing nearly twelve-minute `Cantoantico', with plenty of chiming guitars (the mix of acoustic guitars even briefly remind of Porcupine Tree), a spotlight again placed on Sergio's spiralling flute and a stirring choir in the finale. The up-tempo instrumental closer `Phaedra' is a culmination of everything the band have delivered throughout the disc, with plenty of runaway drums, furious electric guitar blasts and breakneck keyboard pomp, taking brief pauses time for pristine piano reflections and intimidating spacey diversions.

Perhaps the album is just a little too long (damn that CD ability to squeeze in more music than vinyl LP's!), but there's no denying the sheer talent on display and the endless high quality of the material. Parts of this version of the band would split following the release of this album, but the remaining members would regroup with additional players to release another landmark Nineties RPI stunner `In Liminie' only a year later, and the jury is still out on which is the better of these two! But `Finisterre', hailing from a pretty lean decade for RPI, is a thrilling and unique work that deserves to be treasured and still investigated today, and it truly might be something of a `modern' Italian Prog classic.

Four and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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