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NotaBene - Sei Lacrime d'Ambra CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.99 | 49 ratings

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4 stars Notabene's second effort is a quantum leap forward (guess that's what is meant by "progression") after some manpower changes, namely a new guitarist and the disappearance of the violin/trumpet element that made the debut so unique. The sophomore release wastes little time in boldly stating its colors, "La Revolution Bourgeoise Parte1" instills a raucous and hard-edged classic RPI ride with ballsy guitar musings that recalls the mythical Foglie di Vetro , operatic Italian language vocals and mounds of dense atmosphere. The 11 minute "Le Mistificazioni dell'Ombra" keeps the pace hectic, with heady doses of raging and passionate vocals, including some satanic/sardonic laughter , variances in mood and textures , at times dreamy and then subtly grimy and sweaty, where Giampietro Maccabiani's manic riffing keeps the pace ablaze with the keyboard complicity of the effusive Daniele Manerba. Drummer Gus Pasini is a stalwart drummer (who also chairs the more pastoral Corte Aulica) who can rock, jazz and roll with great skill, especially in a duet with Manerba's piano. Gianluca Avanzati shows considerable dexterity in handling the bass and never disappoints even on the Stick. This piece epitomizes the continuing legacy of the hard-edge faction within RPI's new bands that openly favors harsher climates instead of the Celeste/Höstsonaten pastoral symphonics. In that sense, Notabene is closer to Il Bacio della Medusa, at least in style and spirit. "Maschera di Cera" is a more traditional RPI piece that broods within the confines of Italian folk, loaded with acoustic guitars and tons of spirited singing that takes center stage with unbridled eloquence. The title track is yet another winner, again espousing burly vocal tendencies, this time with rather palpable Jethro Tull influences (the inveterate main guitar-led theme for one), the playing relying on some overt classicisms in terms of intricacy, where the piano and mandolin take turns at shining through the opaque electric guitar clouds that permeate the arrangement. Maccabiani's screaming guitar solo is a treat as well as the immediately thereafter jazzy romp. Andrea Alberici has a pleasant and powerful voice that complements the music tremendously. The surprising accordion makes an impromptu cameo appearance at the very end that is quite stunning. The next masterful 16 minute epic , "Il Treno di Obuda" (which I presume recalls the impressions of a train ride in a section of Budapest -Obuda means "old Buda"- a city composed of the hilly Buda and the flat Pest , both partitioned by the mighty Danube). The music combines the tension of hard-rock gymnastics, the playfulness of typical RPI and some amusing jazz leanings that provide candor, contrast and a hint of welcome rebellion. This piece is also a definite highlight, constantly stretched by assorted pressures and directions, truly breaking the standard and daring to voyage into exhilarating soundscapes (such as the African percussion motifs midway through). A wonderful ride full of unexpected triumphs and tribulations, what prog was really meant to be in terms of experimentation! The final English vocal part is really quite clever, thick Italian accent and all! BTW, that was the idea! Knowing that they are on momentum's favorite track, the band closes out with a extended 17 minute reprise of the opening salvo, " La Revolution Bourgeoise Parte 2" , a severely developed musical adventure that searches out pitilessly the very far reaches of expression. A true modern masterpiece of unmitigated proportions . The raunchy guitar riff introduces wobbly synth motifs, vigorous drumming, some sexy bass and a fantastic atmosphere laden with expressive creativity. The guitar really shines brightly as if wired to explode, gloomy little snippets aimed at inducing even more angst, Alberici's vocals growing in zeal as if hypnotized by the entire concept, a true talent . Maccabiani solos forcefully again, showing that he is a force to be reckoned with. There is very little to express negative comments about in this fine release, perhaps a little more overt soloing would help but these are team players of the first order and they stick to playing it their way. While perhaps as good as Bacio della Medusa second effort, the true essence of this band's future will appear with the next one, creating a dud or an outright masterpiece. This is close to that perfect mark but not quite yet. Certainly a recent RPI group that needs to be followed closely and an excellent addition to any Italo-Prog collection. 4.5 amber tears.
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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