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RanestRane - A Space Odyssey, Final Part - Starchild CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.87 | 127 ratings

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4 stars Formed back in 1996, Italian project RanestRane have spent the last two-plus decades crafting ambitious concept work adaptations of legendary horror and science fiction films (`Nosferatu' and `The Shining' being two previous examples), but their latest disc from 2018 is their third and final of a trilogy based on the `2001: A Space Odyssey' movie, sub-titled `Final Part: Starchild'. While it would be preferable to have the earlier `Monolith' and `H.A.L' volumes from the past couple of years, `Starchild' still manages to stand as its own musical statement, because, despite taking inspiration from another source, the lyrics constantly convey a very surreal quality all their own. And if that wasn't intriguing enough, the band have also enlisted the aid of Marillion members Steve Rothery and Steve Hogarth to provide some quality contributions!

One thing to point out about RanestRane immediately is that the group are as far from the RPI/Rock Progressivo Italiano sound as possible, as there's none of the classical or theatrical touches that are often signature components of that tag (mind you, several members of RanestRane have also pulled double duty as members of reworked versions of legendary vintage Italian proggers Il Rovescio della Medaglia!). Instead, RanestRane have a firmly modern sound that shares much more in common with the most dramatic Pink Floyd moments, Marillion, as well as little touches of Riverside and Aryen Luccassen's Ayreon projects without merely lazily resorting to the heavier guitar riffing. RPI or not, it really makes no difference, because RanestRane are an exceptionally skilled and exciting band who deliver a first-rate album here with their latest effort.

Opener `L'insieme delle Cose' is a reflective soft rocker that grows in power as it progresses, full of icy Neo-Prog-like synths, the chiming guitars of the Hogarth-fronted era of Marillion and some frequently recurring wordless sighing harmonies. The tune, sung in Italian by drummer Daniele Pomo with a great and weary dignity, ultimately proves defiant with victoriously chest-beating moments. Instrumental `Do You Read Me H.A.L.?' is a space-rock sound collage interspersed with soundbites from the movie that borrows greatly from Pink Floyd's `One of These Days', all slide guitar and shimmering organ slivers (and the CD booklet even cheekily refers to it as the `Meddle Variation'!). `Ambasciatore delle Lacrime' is a tougher rocker with plenty of moody guitars courtesy of Steve Rothery but a more relaxed chorus, and `Sognero Mai' shakes things up with some colder electronics, gloomy organ and snarling guitars that bristle with desperation before a haunting acoustic climax.

Very few prog albums are without their longer epic, and the near-fifteen minute `Stargate' certainly delivers, with three of its four sections being fully instrumental. Combining everything from lulling piano interludes, heroic guitar passages and deep- space synth journeys, there's also breathless up-tempo sprints powered by coursing bass and touching acoustic breaks. The various segments all flow together effortlessly, and this multi-part piece is full of warmth and carries a quietly powerful beauty. `Prometeo tra le Stelle' is more of the same, perhaps just a little unengaging and probably could have been left off altogether without lessening the disc, but a fancy harpsichord-like break in the middle is likely the closest the disc comes to a teasing RPI-like moment here. The short `Abandoned' is then a pristine and sobering electric piano ballad finale given a stream-of-consciousness narration from Steve Hogarth, and the overall piece probably wouldn't have sounded out of place on any recent Marillion album.

The amount of variety and alternating vocal/instrumental passages means `Starchild' keeps constantly surprising. Just when the disc seems like it's settling into a song-driven format where the tune is the priority, the band break out a gorgeous instrumental passage, or subtly incorporate everything from electronic, spacerock and ambient styles into different corners of the album. Add in charismatic vocals that hold a very seasoned and dignified rasp, and you have a superb all-round progressive rock band making greatly inspired music, and `Starchild' is a very grand and rousing Italian highlight of 2018.

Four and a half stars.

(Note - well done to Ranestrane including English language translations in the CD booklet for all the Italian lyrics. This is something that many more bands from that country should do, as it provides a welcome entry-point for a wider range of worldwide listeners!)

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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